How to avoid that case of ‘maskne’

To minimize your risk, dermatologist recommends wearing a 100% cotton mask

Dermatologists say face masks can trap air, heat and bacteria inside.
Dermatologists say face masks can trap air, heat and bacteria inside. (Courtesy of Cleveland Clinic News Service)

Wearing a mask is our “new normal” but as we cover our mouths and noses to stop COVID-19, some of us are uncovering a new problem — “maskne,” or mask-related acne.

Cleveland Clinic dermatologist, Shilpi Khetarpal, MD, said some masks aren’t very breathable and can trap hot air – among other things.

“Sweat, bacteria, heat, all of that accumulates and essentially creates the perfect storm for, you know, bacteria to multiply and that’s when we’re seeing acne,” she said.

To reduce the risk of developing maskne, Dr. Khetarpal recommends wearing a 100-percent cotton mask, which is more breathable.

It’s also important to clean your mask daily, to wash away bacteria and sweat.

If you’re using a medical mask, she recommends changing it each day.

She also advises against wearing heavy makeup under a mask because it may cause irritation and get trapped in your skin.

Instead, opt for a lightweight, tinted moisturizer or sunscreen — just be sure to look for one that’s oil-free and won’t clog pores.

And when you take your mask off for the night, wash your face with a gentle cleanser.

If you’re still struggling despite pimple prevention, products formulated to treat acne may help.

“You can certainly try over-the-counter treatment ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid – these all come in cleanser or leave-on forms, that’s definitely a good place to start,” said Dr. Khetarpal.

Dr. Khetarpal said acne treatments can be irritating and drying, so using a gentle moisturizer at night is a good idea.

She adds that people with tender, deep cyst-like acne should seek the help of a medical professional, because that type of blemish can scar.