Written by Margaret Kontras Sutton, M.D. —
As if COVID has not created enough havoc, you can add another example of fallout from COVID and that is “maskne”.
This is the development or worsening of acne, caused by the frequent wearing of a mask or facial covering. Of course, wearing a mask is definitely necessary for the protection of ourselves and others. However the warm, moist environment which is created by the frequent wearing of a mask can be a factor in the exacerbation of acne.
The mechanical friction against the skin caused by the mask is also a contributing factor. We see this in football players who develop acne flares under their pads, helmets and chin straps. I have also seen these flares in dancers who wear tight fitting leotards. This phenomenon is called “acne mechanica” and is a factor in maskne.
Another reason that we may be seeing so much acne flaring these days is the well known association of acne and stress. I’m sure most of us have good reason to have added stress in our lives these days.
Enough of “why” we see maskne, how about “now what do we do?” Treating maskne would be similar to treating conventional acne. Consider an acne wash such as Sutton Ageless Acne Solution Cleanser which contains salicylic acid. Another brand we like is PanOxyl Foaming Cleanser 10% (benzoyl peroxide).
I also like Differin Gel, now over the counter, to be applied sparingly at bedtime. Do be careful not to over do it as these products may cause some skin irritation. In that event, Sutton Ageless Daily Moisturizing Sunscreen is a great, oil-free daytime moisturizer.
Do make sure you are wearing a clean mask. If you are using a cloth mask you should wash it every day. Wash your face and hands with a mild cleanser as soon as you can after removing your mask.
If you have more questions or feel you need some prescription strength medications to help with your acne, one of our providers at Sutton Dermatology + Aesthetics would be happy to help.