The year 2020 has been a year unlike any other. On top of rising climate concerns, raging wildfires, and political pandemonium, we’ve been dealing with a global . The novel coronavirus reared its ugly head at the start of the new year and has quickly spread around the world, leaving a swath of challenges and changes in its wake.
Though a vaccine for COVID-19 is still in the works, scientists have made a number of important discoveries about the virus to help keep us safe in the meantime. Something as simple as wearing a face mask in public and maintaining distance from others could have the greatest impact in slowing the spread of the virus. We may not know everything there is to know about this virus, but we do know that we all need to work together in order to defeat it.
Wearing a mask is hardly a sacrifice, especially if it has the power to protect you and others, but it isn’t always comfortable. In fact, wearing a mask can trigger problems of its own like mask-related acne or “maskne.” Here’s what you need to know about maskne and how to get it under control with a simple daily skincare routine.
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Understanding Mask-Related Acne
The best strategy to win any battle is to know your enemy. Though you may never have heard the term “maskne” until a few months ago, it has become a daily reality for many. The term “maskne” is simply social media speak for mask-related acne. It is by no means anything new, but incidence has increased significantly since the general public started wearing face masks due to the pandemic.
Acne forms when sebum and dead skin cells combine to form a plug in your pores. Add in bacteria from the surface of your skin and you have a recipe for acne lesions. Though most commonly seen in teenagers and young adults, acne can affect people of all ages and it tends to pop up in periods of stress. Other factors that can trigger acne include friction and accumulated moisture on the skin. In other worlds, wearing a mask creates the ideal environment for acne to develop.
Wearing a mask is a proven method for slowing the spread of COVID-19 and while it may not be comfortable all the time, it’s a simple thing you can do to protect yourself and others. If you’re struggling with mask-related acne, make sure to give your skin a break from the mask throughout the day when you’re in a safe environment where you can take it off. It may also help to develop healthy skin habits with a daily skincare regimen.
Try This Skincare Routine to Help Stop Maskne
A daily skincare routine doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, simply cleansing and moisturizing on a daily basis could make a big difference for your skin. If you’re struggling with mask-related acne, however, you may need to throw in a few extra steps to keep things under control.
Here are the most important steps to include in your daily skincare routine:
- Always start with a gentle cleanser appropriate for your skin type. Rinse with cool or lukewarm water and gently pat your skin dry.
- Apply an alcohol-free toner then, while your skin is still slightly damp, apply moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin and fortify its moisture barrier.
- During the day, apply a light layer of barrier cream or skin-repairing cream before donning your mask if you need an extra layer of protection.
- When you get home for the day, cleanse and tone again. If needed, wash with a product that contains ketoconazole or selenium sulfide to calm the skin (you can find these ingredients in dandruff shampoo).
- Pick one treatment per night based on what your skin needs that day. Exfoliate 1 to 3 times a week to keep your pores clear, but don’t use retinoid treatments on the same day.
- Apply a thicker moisturizer or night cream in the evening, especially if you have dry skin. If your skin is oily, you may want to keep it light.
In addition to keeping up with your daily skincare regimen for cleansing and moisturizing, you may need to add something extra from time to time. If you’re experiencing a maskne flare-up, try an over-the-counter spot treatment like benzoyl peroxide or switch to a cleanser that contains salicylic acid. For more severe acne breakouts, retinoids like tretinoin found in prescription acne cream are a top choice for dermatologists.
If you’re not sure what works best for your skin type, take an online skincare quiz for recommendations. Be sure to integrate new products into your routine slowly to avoid skin irritation.
Don’t Forget to Clean Your Mask
Over the past few months, wearing a mask has become a habit. Before walking out the door, you check to make sure you have your wallet, your keys, AND your mask. Keeping a few extra masks around can ensure you always have one when you need one, but it’s important to rotate your stock so you have a clean mask to wear each time.
Here are some simple tips to keep your masks clean:
- Wash cloth face masks after each use and let them air dry completely.
- If using the washing machine, wash your mask with fragrance-free laundry detergent on the warmest water the fabric of your mask can handle.
- For hand washing, soak the mask in bleach for 5 minutes then rinse thoroughly with water.
- Store masks in a cool, dry place between uses – trying hanging them on a hook by your door.
- When storing your mask between uses, fold it so the inner cloth that comes into contact with your mouth remains protected.
Mask-related acne is a very real concern, but it isn’t something you can’t handle. A daily skincare routine is the key to keeping your skin healthy and hydrated while a steady supply of clean, dry masks will help you keep acne breakouts under control.