Once you graduate high school and enter into adulthood, you finally get to leave the woes of your teenage years behind. Unfortunately, not all of your adolescent worries go quietly. Acne affects roughly 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 but it can follow you into adulthood as well. In fact, as many as 15 percent of adult women suffer from acne.
Acne is a common skin condition that often seems to come and go. Over the past year, a certain type of acne has become more common. Technically called mask-related acne, you may know of it as “maskne.”
Wearing a mask has become the new normal in these pandemic times and, while wearing a mask is the best way to protect yourself and others, it does come with a few downsides. Maskne is one of them.
Here’s what you need to know about mask-related acne and how to handle it properly.
Also Read: Best Self Care Ideas for Mental Health
What is Acne? How is Maskne Different?
Acne vulgaris, more commonly known as acne, is a common skin condition caused by the build-up of dead skin cells and sebum on the surface of the skin. These materials clog the pores, creating a plug which can be further irritated by bacteria on the skin. This results in acne lesions like whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, nodules, and cysts.
Mask-related acne involves the same underlying factors but there’s one more thrown into the mix – the moist environment and friction induced by wearing a mask. Wearing a mask for extended periods of time can trap warm air against your skin, creating the ideal environment for acne-causing bacteria to thrive. The friction and pressure created by wearing a mask adds to the irritation, making acne worse.
Technically speaking, mask-related acne is a form of acne known as mechanical acne or acne mechanica. Most commonly seen in athletes and individuals who wear tight-fitting clothes and sports equipment, acne mechanica can also be triggered by the friction and pressure created by long-term mask use. The good news is the same things that work to treat and prevent acne vulgaris also work for acne mechanica or mask-related acne. It all comes down to keeping your skin clean and moisturized.
7 Skincare Tips to Prevent Mask-Related Acne
Preventing mask-related acne is no different than preventing any other form of acne. The key is to keep your skin as clean and healthy as you possibly can. Acne is most likely to form in skin that produces excess sebum because the sebum combines with dead skin cells to clog the pores. Oily skin types tend to have the most issues with acne, but any skin type can develop acne – even dry skin.
Cleansing your skin is important, but it’s also essential to keep your skin hydrated. When your skin becomes deprived of moisture, it triggers an increase in sebum production which can then lead to acne. Hydration is the key to maintaining the proper moisture balance in your skin, no matter your skin type. That being said, knowing your skin type is the first step in creating an effective skincare routine.
Keeping up with your daily skincare routine is the best defense against acne, but there are a few additional things you can do as well. Here are some simply skincare tips to control and prevent maskne:
1. Wash your face twice daily (morning and evening) with a gentle cleanser appropriate for your skin type.
2. If you use reusable cloth masks, keep several of them on hand and wash them after each use.
3. Make sure your cloth masks are clean and dry before using them – it is best to hand wash them and hang them up to air dry.
4. Take your mask off when it’s safe to do so to give your skin a chance to breathe.
5. Keep your skin hydrated with a daily moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid – it will help maintain the proper moisture balance in your skin.
6. Consider using barrier cream or sunscreen to create an extra layer between your skin and your mask.
7. Try applying toner or witch hazel to refresh your skin once in a while when wearing a mask for long periods of time – just be sure to let your skin dry before putting the mask back on.
If you’re using barrier cream or other products to create a barrier between your skin and the mask, be careful how you apply them. Applying these products too thick could aggravate acne in individuals with acne-prone skin. Wearing a light layer of makeup underneath your mask shouldn’t be an issue.
Proven Treatment Options for Acne
Keeping your skin – and your mask – clean is the secret to preventing acne breakouts. While it’s true that some skin types are simply more prone to acne than others, a little prevention goes a long way. By following the skincare tips above, you can keep your skin healthy and hydrated which will help balance the oil production in your skin to avoid the conditions that cause acne to develop.
Even if you follow these tips to the tee, however, you may experience the occasional breakout. So, what do you do when you notice acne starting to develop?
Here are some dermatologist-backed treatment options to help you get your acne under control:
- Try over-the-counter spot treatments like benzoyl peroxide to counter excess sebum production and control bacteria. You can also find benzoyl peroxide cleansers, creams, and gels.
- Purge your pores of dead skin cells with salicylic acne treatments. You can find salicylic acid in over-the-counter cleansers and spot treatments or, if you need a higher concentration, in prescription creams.
- Treat severe and stubborn acne with oral acne medications. Oral antibiotics help control acne causing bacteria and oral contraceptives can help address hormonal forms of acne.
- Consider prescription acne cream for moderate to severe acne. These creams utilize active ingredients like tretinoin and clindamycin to treat acne at its root cause.
Your skin is as unique as you are, so it’s difficult to say whether a specific skincare regimen will work for you as well as it works for someone else. What you really need is a skincare routine customized for your skin type that is designed to address your individual skin concerns.
The good news is you can take a simple skincare quiz online to find the best regimen to follow for healthy, acne-free skin.