The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a host of challenges and changes when it comes to our beauty and wellness routines. Lately, we’ve been hearing gripes about a pandemic-specific skin ailment called maskne—mask acne. These breakouts are seemingly caused by wearing masks all day and have been affecting frontline and nonessential workers.
But we all know that breakouts are the physical manifestation of a problem that goes deeper than the surface. We might be touching our faces less, but we’re also engaging in new behaviors that could be affecting our skin health.
So we reached out to one of favorite doctors, board-certified dermatologist Rosemarie Ingleton, to find out what causes these mask-driven breakouts and what people can do to prevent them.
ESSENCE: Why are so many people reporting mask-driven breakouts, or maskne?
Rosemarie Ingleton: As it is mandated that we wear face masks whenever outside of our home or when around anyone whose COVID-19 status is unknown, it results in prolonged use of this occlusive covering. Any skin conditions that can occur because of blocked pores and increased heat can worsen because of chronic wearing of masks. So acne, rosacea and heat rashes would not be surprising.
What can people do to avoid maskne when it comes to their skin care routines and mask care?
Ingleton: They should continue their previously prescribed acne regimens despite having to wear masks regularly. They can disinfect or wash their cloth masks frequently or use disposable masks and discard them after a few days of use. Remove the mask whenever it is safe and possible to do so, in order to reduce the number of hours of use.
Do you think that COVID-19 will also forever change our beauty hygiene as we know it?
Ingleton: Yes. We will be more cognizant of the need to wash our faces at the end of the day, at work, [after coming in from outdoors] and before going to bed. No more sleeping in the day’s makeup.
Some folks are experiencing breakouts just from the stress of all things coronavirus. Is there a routine they should adopt right now to try to control breakouts?
Ingleton: The key would be to control the underlying stress. Some lifestyle options to consider adopting include regular meditation, regular exercise and getting adequate sleep. Also, consult a good therapist for some additional help with developing coping skills.