How to Prevent and Treat Face Mascne

You may have thought masks would soon be a thing of the past. But as the Delta and Gamma Covid-19 variants spread, it’s starting to feel like we’re back to March of 2020. With masks come something else: mascne, or mask acne, an unfortunate side effect of daily mask-wearing.

You may have noticed an uptick in red bumps in the areas of your face that your mask covers, whether you’re someone who regularly gets breakouts or if you have nearly perfect skin. Acne can literally be a pain, but that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing a mask. If you treat your skin and clean your face coverings, you should be able to get it under control and eliminate larger breakouts from happening. Everyone’s skin responds differently to products and stressors, so go slow and spot test any new, potentially irritating ingredients.

Updated September 2021: We’ve added more of our favorite mascne-fighting products.

If you buy something using links in our stories, we may earn a commission. This helps support our journalism. Learn more. Please also consider subscribing to WIRED.

What Causes Mascne?

Just like regular acne, there are multiple potential causes for mask acne: not washing your mask often enough; washing it with a harsh detergent; irritation caused by your mask materials,  or how frequently you have to wear it.

Masks help keep saliva and any other droplets—emitted from breathing, talking, coughing, or sneezing—from getting into the air and potentially transmitting Covid-19 (or other illnesses). That’s what we want them to do, but this means that they trap moisture and bacteria inside, touching your skin. “These masks create a seal that prevents moisture from escaping, resulting in a humid environment where acne-causing bacteria is able to thrive,” says Dylan Mustapich, an aesthetician at Face Haus in New York City.

Board-certified dermatologist Meghan Feely likens it to acne that athletes often struggle with. “Athletes who wear a helmet may develop acneiform breakouts as dirt, oil, and sweat are trapped in their pores, affording an environment conducive to the growth of bacteria,” she says.

The purpose of wearing a mask is to keep the virus from spreading, so if your mask has trapped some, you need to wash it. Washing it also helps prevent that bacteria from infecting your skin. On the other hand, some detergents can irritate your skin. Try a gentle, fragrance-free detergent to see if that helps.

And if you’re prone to stress-related breakouts, an international pandemic is surely something to stress about. Try your best to relax.

How to Treat Mascne

Photograph: Anna Efetova/Getty Images

We cannot emphasize this enough: You should continue wearing a mask while in public. But if you don’t have to be in public, stay home and let your skin breathe.

File source

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button