Maskne: what is it? Who are people most likely to develop it? How to prevent it and how to treat it?

2020 has not been an easy year. Just with the coronavirus pandemic, and all the consequences in our daily lives, we can say that it is a difficult year.

And to top it off, one more side effect is added to the coronavirus long list: the "Maskne". This phenomenon is increasingly known on social networks, it has also made its official entry in the urban dictionary.

Understand the phenomenon

It is a neologism that combines the word mask and acne in reference to irritation, redness and pimples appearing in the area of ​​the chin, nose, cheeks and around the mouth due to prolonged wearing of the mask. Before the corona, we used to say "acne mechanica" to designate the acne problem of athletes wearing helmets and pads.

It became more popular with the heat wave which made the use of the mask more bulky and the acne problem exacerbated.

With the pandemic, wearing the mask daily has become a necessity. This weakens the skin below the mask, deprives it of oxygen, irritates the areas in direct contact with the mask and damages the natural skin barrier.

What are its effects

The list of effects and their intensity on the skin is quite long. It depends on different factors related to the type of skin you have, the age, the acnes that you may already have, the duration of mask wearing daily and even other more subtle factors such as what makeup and skincare you use, how active you are while wearing the mask, and if you have a lot of facial hair.

Due to the friction, humidity and perspiration of heat, we can suffer from reactive seborrhea or excess sebum, imbalanced pH of the skin, proliferation of bacteria, eczema or atopic dermatitis which lead to the onset of redness, acne, itching and the appearance of psoriasis patches.


Who are the people most likely to develop "Maskne"?

According to Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologic surgeon in New York, “Virtually all skin types will see some form of irritation from wearing a face mask if they are wearing them for an extended period of time each day”, he adds: “Many people will see irritation from the physical friction and / or pressure of the material on their skin, while others will see acne pop up. ”

Being stressed or carrying out an activity that exposes you to heat is also a cause of “Maskne”. In the medical sector, the staff who wear more airtight masks (PFF2 type) are more exposed to develop “Maskne”. Applying makeup also intensifies the acne issues, even if until then you have never had this kind of problem because of the use of your makeup.

Dr. Radostina Bachvarova, dermatologist, says: "The skin of the face is not physiologically suitable for wearing a mask. It is thin and reacts more quickly to aggressions such as friction. The skin is not the same everywhere ... The rubbing of the mask on fragile areas of the face, and on the top of the nose in particular where some masks are fitted with a steel bar rest, attacks the skin and damages the natural skin barrier. When this skin barrier is damaged, the skin problems happen. "

About the people more exposed to these effects, she affirms: "The skins of the elderly and the sensitive skins are thinner and more at risk of problems than the dark skins".

However, dark skin with its higher resistance to friction, can face a different type of problem and develop pigment spots. People with a lot of facial hair can suffer from folliculitis or inflammation of the hair follicle.


How to prevent it?

Here is a handy list of preventative measures to take:

  • Choose a breathable mask, surgical mask or if possible cotton one, soft enough for sensitive skin. Avoid neoprene masks, especially if you are allergic to latex, synthetic materials and those very colored, containing irritating components. 
  • Wash your mask in hot water to kill germs.
  • Wash the face often, but without excess. Instead, use a cleanser with Benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient that kills bacteria under the skin.
  • Avoid makeup as much as possible, even if your makeup is premium
  • Apply a thin layer of an "occlusive" moisturizer, which contains ingredients like white petroleum jelly, which is found in different types of moisturizer, shea butter, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil.
  • Avoid wearing a mask during sport exercises and when it is not necessary (when you are driving alone or riding your bike, etc.).
  • Refresh your face with thermal water or organic skincare products such as Tsuruhime by Takumi Beauty, made from pure onsen water.
  • reduce your consumption of sweets (which stimulates the production of sebum).
  • Promote vitamin C in your diet.
  • Reduce your consumption of milk (not recommended in cases of acne and eczema).


How to treat

If your acne problems become severe, the best is to consult a specialist. Do not underestimate the “Maskne” consequences, as it can really get worse.

A dermatologist will consider the specifics of your skin and your allergies, for a tailor-made treatment.