The Coronavirus pandemic has made us hyper aware of our personal hygiene to say the least. As of April, most Indian states made it mandatory for everyone to wear a mask while stepping outdoors. However, while as important wearing a mask is, it certainly come with its own repertoire of serious skin irritation issues. According to Dermatologist Chris Huerter, MD at CHI Health, while wearing a face mask for the first time, or for extended periods of time, a few problems can come into play: Maskne, Perioral Dermatitis and Friction irritations. Reiterating the fact are many health care providers and frontline workers who’ve been wearing specialized masks for hours at a stretch—resulting in painful skin rashes, chafing, and abrasions. ‘Hero’ wounds if you will.
So how do you keep your skin happy whilst wearing a face mask? Let’s find out products against skin irritation…
● What: Maskne
One of the major skin issues that everyone is most likely to face is maskne (RE: Acne caused due to masks). “When fabric or gear presses or rubs against the skin for a prolonged period, it can cause pimples from heat, friction, sweat, bacteria, or irritation - a condition (also common in athletes) called acne mechanica”, explains Laurel Naversen Geraghty, MD and board certified Dermatologist. This appears in the form of white shallow whiteheads or facial redness along the contained areas and line of contact of the mask. Another way a cloth mask can cause breakouts is when you don't wash it often and dirt and bacteria accumulate in the fabric. Yikes.
Solution: The most important thing you can do to prevent irritation and breakouts is to keep your skin clean and well moisturized. Always wash and exfoliate your skin with pH-balanced cleanser such as Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam Ph5.5 or an oil-free anti-acne product like the Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash before and after putting on a mask. Follow this up with a Hyaluronic Acid-based moisturizer such as the It's Skin Hyaluronic Acid Moisture Cream that is light-weight, won’t clog your pores and is uber hydrating. You can also opt for over-the-counter treatments such as Salicylic Acid, Benzoyl Peroxide, Glycolic Acid, Sulfur, or Tea Tree Oil. Last but not the least, avoid makeup and wash your masks regularly.
● What: Contact and Perioral Dermatitis
Another painful ramification of wearing face masks is ‘Contact Dermatitis’ and ‘Perioral Dermatitis’— an inflammatory rash involving the skin around the chin, mouth and jawline. These appear in the form of uncomfortable redness caused by trapped oil, dirt and sweat between a person’s face and the fabric. Sometimes certain kinds of synthetic fabrics as well as changes in humidity can also trigger it.
Solution: Dr Chris Huerter advises, “If you experience this irritation, try over-the-counter cortisone”. You can also opt for masks fashioned out of breathable and natural fabrics (cotton, bamboo, or natural silk) such as trueBrowns Reusable 2 Layer ORGANIC Cotton Masks. A Sulfur wash such as The Legend Surfer Face Wash can also help treat the breakouts.
●What: Friction Irritations. Chaffing And Scars
This one is most commonly observed on frontline workers who wear masks for an extensive period of masks—sans any breaks. In fact, the more you wear the mask, the worse it becomes. This in turn leads to painful skin irritation, breakage, soreness, chaffing and dark abrasive marks across the face where the mask is in contact with the skin.
Solution: First and foremost, ensure masks are fitted correctly and aren’t too tight. You can opt for masks that can be tied instead of the ones with elastic bands for a custom fit. To avoid friction and prevent cuts, apply a thick cream such as the Cetaphil DailyAdvance Ultra Hydrating Lotion on the areas where the mask will rub against your skin—behind the ears and on the bridge of the nose. You can also apply an oil-free makeup primer like the Deborah Face Perfect Primer to reduce friction from the mask on the skin. Thin bandages can also be placed in high-impact areas like the nose and cheeks to relieve some pressure.
IMPORTANT TIPS TO MAINTAIN SKIN HEALTH