Prevent Skin Issues While Wearing Masks

September 8, 2020

Masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Masks can also be hard on your skin, causing problems that range from acne and peeling skin to rashes and itchiness. Gentle skin care can prevent your mask from causing skin problems. To help prevent skin problems from developing under your mask, board-board-certified dermatologists recommend:

1. Cleanse and moisturize your face daily. Gentle skin care can prevent skin problems. When washing your face, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and follow these steps:

2. Dry skin is a common face-mask skin problem. Applying moisturizer adds a protective layer that can reduce dryness. You want to apply moisturizer immediately after washing your face. To get the most benefit from a moisturizer, try using a moisturizer with one of the following ingredients: Ceramides, Hyaluronic acid, Dimethicone (which can also create a barrier that helps reduce irritated skin), or other ingredients that repair your skin barrier.

If you have acne or tend to break out with cystic acne, you can still use a gel moisturizer. Avoid popping pimples or blackheads as a general rule, but especially in areas covered by a mask. Broken skin is much more susceptible to infection if covered by a mask that is retaining breath and mouth droplets. If you are interested in acne treatment while wearing masks, please consult with your dermatologist. Also, you may qualify for one of our Acne Clinical Trials. Contact 817-795-7546 x339 or click here for more info.

3. Apply moisturizer before and after wearing a mask. Moisturizers can prevent problems, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin.

4. Protect your lips by applying petroleum jelly. Dry skin and chapped lips are common face-mask skin problems. You can prevent chapped lips by applying petroleum jelly to your lips:
● After washing your face
● Before you put on your mask
● Before bed
To prevent breakouts, take care to apply the petroleum jelly only to your lips and not to the surrounding skin.

5. Skip the makeup when wearing a mask. Beneath a mask, makeup is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts. If makeup is necessary, use only products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “oil free.”

6. Avoid trying new skin care products that can irritate your skin. Wearing a mask for even a short time can make your skin more sensitive. To reduce skin problems, avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid, for the first time, unless prescribed by your doctor. Retinoids can irritate your skin. If you must use a retinoid, apply it at bedtime and use only a very thin layer.

7. Use less of certain skin care products if your face becomes irritated. Remember that “more” is NOT better when applying acne medications and other skin care products. When you cover your face with a mask, some skin care products may irritate your skin. If this happens, use a thinner layer of products that can irritate your skin, such as leave-on salicylic acid, retinoids you apply to your face, and aftershave.

8. Wear the right mask. To reduce skin problems, look for masks that offer the following:
● A snug, but comfortable fit
● Soft, natural, and breathable fabric, such as cotton
● Fabric on the inside that feels soft if you have sensitive skin
● Cotton material inside if you have acne or oily skin

Wearing a mask that offers a snug, but comfortable fit helps to protect you and others from the coronavirus. You want a snug fit across your nose, on the sides, and under your chin. A snug, comfortable fit also reduces skin problems. If the mask feels too tight or slides around on your face, it can irritate your skin. You’re also more likely to adjust a poorly fitting mask. When you touch your mask, you can transfer germs to your mask and your face. The fabric is also important. Avoid synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester, and rayon. These are more likely to irritate your skin and cause breakouts. To stop behind-the-ear soreness, find masks with different types of ties and ear loops and wear a different type each day.

9. Take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours. Health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic have found that this helps save their skin. Of course, only remove your mask when it’s safe to do so and after washing your hands. Safe places to remove your mask include:
● Outdoors, when you can stay at least six feet away from people
● Inside your car when you’re alone
● At home

10. Wash your cloth masks. Many health care organizations now recommend that you wash a cloth mask after each use. Washing it also removes oils and skin cells that collect inside the mask, which could lead to a skin problem. You can wash a cloth mask in a washing machine or by hand. Both ways remove germs and other particles. Just be sure to:
● Follow the washing instructions on each mask.
● Wash the masks in hot water unless the instructions say otherwise.
● Use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
● After washing your mask, check its shape. If a mask no longer fits snugly (and comfortably), it is less protective.

Continue the treatment plan that your dermatologist created for you. If you have a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, it’s especially important to follow your treatment plan. This can help keep the condition under control. If a skin problem develops under your mask, consult with your dermatologists for solutions that would allow you to continue skin treatments while continuing to wear a mask.

“The American Academy of Dermatology supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. A growing body of evidence has shown that masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. The AAD encourages people to wear face masks in public, practice social distancing, and frequently wash your hands to help protect yourself, your family and your community.” ─ AAD President Bruce H. Thiers, MD, FAAD


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