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You may have noticed a buildup of red bumps on the areas of your face where your mask covers. Even if you have acne-prone skin or have nearly perfect skin, mask acne, or maskne, is an unfortunate side effect of wearing face masks daily as you’re trying to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

While you can’t avoid wearing face masks daily to keep you protected, there are steps you can take to prevent and treat maskne to enjoy life with healthy skin.

What’s causing maskne?

Just like normal acne, various factors could be causing you to break out. For example, not washing your mask often enough, washing the mask with harsh detergents, or the mask itself could have materials that irritate your skin, and how frequently you wear your mask.

Masks help keep saliva and any other droplets from talking, coughing, or sneezing from getting into the air, but these mean that they also trap bacteria and moisture. Acne develops when dead skin cells, oil, dirt, or makeup block your pores, providing the perfect humid environment for bacteria to grow and cause acne.

How to treat maskne

It’s still essential to wear your face mask while out in public, but if you don’t have to go out, stay home and let your skin breathe.

Invest in a few masks that you can change and frequently wash with a gentle detergent that won’t irritate your skin. Choose masks that are cotton because they are breathable fabric and are easy to wash. If you’re wearing disposable masks, don’t wear the same one all day. You’ll need to change the mask, so that the bacteria that has been building up doesn’t continue to grow and affect your skin.

If you wear makeup, avoid applying it to the areas the mask is covering. Ensure that your face is cleansed and moisturized, and don’t forget to exfoliate once a week. Wash your face before wearing the face mask and after taking the mask off. You can use gentle foaming cleansers that remove all your makeup, oil, and dirt efficiently. If you have acne-prone skin, find a cleanser with salicylic acid to clear off excess oil and dead skin cells. Salicylic acid is also good for acne because it penetrates deep into your skin and unclogs pores, reducing your acne. Here are other products you can try:

  • Pimple patches: These use hydrocolloids to draw out all the oil and pus to them. Depending on the pimple’s severity and size, you can put one at night and wake up with smooth, clear skin. They will also prevent you from picking the pimples, which would make them inflamed and leave scars. You can choose to wear them under your mask, and no one would notice it. For regular breakouts, use a good acne treatment. Click here to read a review about exposed skincare acne treatment.
  • Chemical exfoliants: You wouldn’t want to over-exfoliate your skin right now when it’s breaking out, but a chemical exfoliant used a few times a week might do the trick. These go deeper than physical exfoliants and help clear up congested pores.


Photo by Bára Buri on Unsplash


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