Jun 24, 2020 10:00 AM

As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of face masks or facial coverings has become an important way to combat the spread of the virus as we ease back into normal life. Many public places are encouraging or even mandating the use of facial masks or coverings. Meanwhile, many jobs are requiring employees to wear masks for the duration of their shift.

Masks are important for two reasons: First, they provide a guard against spreading potentially infected droplets to other individuals. Second, masks provide a reminding barrier that helps to keep people from touching their face and potentially infecting themselves with unclean hands. 

However, masks can cause challenges for the skin. Trapping moisture and secretions close to the skin, some people may experience a flare of acne, or acne-like skin conditions such as perioral dermatitis. Masks can also act as a skin irritant, causing rashes, redness, or itching. The friction caused by long periods of mask use is also a potential problem which can cause injuries, such as cuts or scrapes

Give Your Skin Some Rest

Take care of your health and your skin by using your mask when you should and take it off when appropriate.

Clean Your Skin

Make sure to use a gentle cleanser on your skin to clear away the trapped moisture and secretions, allowing the pores to breathe. Alcohol- or acid-based cleansers and astringents such as witch hazel should be avoided on irritated, injured, or dry skin.

Moisturize Your Skin

Always remember that well-moisturized skin is a stronger barrier and more resistant to irritation. Use an oil-free, facial specific, or non-comedogenic cream if you have acne prone skin. Or you can consider thick petrolatum-based ointments if you are dry and not prone to breakouts. This can be very helpful in preventing rashes and irritation from prolonged use of your mask.

By: David Smart, MD, Department of Dermatology


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