Maskne is a term coined in recent months to indicate various disorders affecting the skin of the cheeks and chin due to the use of protective masks. Maskne can be a real worsening of acne in those who are predisposed but it can also be folliculitis or dermatitis in the case of sensitive skin. For our protection and the protection of others we are called to wear the mask even for several hours a day and very protective masks, such as KN95, since they adhere more, increase the risk of maskne even more. However, we cannot give up masks because they are one of our most precious allies in the fight against the new coronavirus. So what to do to bring relief in case of rashes, pimples and itching? Let's try to understand exactly what causes the maskne and some advice to counter it.
Maskne, how it develops
The fabric of the mask rubs against the skin, irritating it. In addition, due to the protective action of the mask and to exhalation and sweating, heat and humidity increase in contact with the skin. These conditions can increase sebum secretion from the sebaceous glands and the risk of pore clogging. At the same time, the skin's defenses are weakened, the pH can be altered and the growth and development of bacteria and yeasts are favored (Teo et al, J Am Acad Dermatol, 2021 - Damiani et al, Dermatol Ther, 2021). Hence the development of the famous mask acne, or maskne, is observed.
Maskne, some useful tips and tricks
It is important to throw away the disposable masks after their use, don’t use them more times. Then, if you are using reusable masks, wash the fabric masks or, in case of KN95, disinfect them, you can use a solution with at least 60% alcohol. Then, let’s talk about the anti acne creams. If you are already following an anti-acne therapy or have an anti-acne cream at home, the advice of the experts is to postpone their use in the evening or at least after you have returned home and you do not have to use the mask anymore. In fact, the treatments commonly used against acne such as creams based on benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur, alpha hydroxide acid and retinoids can promote contact dermatitis (Teo et al, J Am Acad Dermatol, 2021). Not only that, if you have the habit of applying a protective sunscreen it is better to do it on the areas of the skin not covered by the mask, as the great humidity and the heat generated under the fabric increase the comedogenic action of the sunscreen cream (Teo et al, J Am Acad Dermatol, 2021). When you come home and take off the mask, you can apply a sunscreen and sunbathe, always without exaggerating and avoiding the hours around noon.
Maskne, skin care
Washing the skin of the face in the morning and in the evening is part of the normal routine to remove traces of makeup, pollution, bacteria and excess sebum. To soothe or prevent the maskne it is good to introduce some precautions also when removing the mask. Once you return home and take off your protective mask, it is important to wash and disinfect your hands. Then you can clean the face skin with antimicrobial cleansers, if your doctor advised you to do so, otherwise you can use mild detergents without alcohol and perfumes, which could worsen acne or irritation. Vegetable oil-based soaps such as Aleppo soap, which is prepared with bay leaf oil with antimicrobial properties, can also sometimes be used (Kaurinovic et al, Molecules, 2010). As suggested by the American Academy of Dermatology Association, it is better to use lukewarm water to clean your face and to distribute the cleanser with your fingers, avoiding sponges or cloths that could only irritate the face more. Gently pat your face with a clean cloth and then apply a moisturizing product capable of rebalancing sebum production and containing ceramides or hyaluronic acid (Han et al, Dermatol Ther, 2020). For example, jojoba oil products can be a help. In fact, jojoba oil repairs the damaged skin barrier and is anti-inflammatory, proving to be a valuable ally in the case of dermatitis and acne (Lin et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2018). Not only that, jojoba oil contains ceramides and is similar to the sebum produced by our sebaceous glands and, therefore, its use helps to balance the production of sebum (Al Obaidi et al, Biol Res, 2017). Spray a little floral water, such as lavender water that calms irritation and redness, and apply your cream or directly a few drops of jojoba oil. You can add a drop of chamomile or lavender essential oil to the cream and oil, which soothe itching and redness. Finally, it might be useful, in this period, to avoid the use of foundation and face powder that could worsen pimples and blackheads. The use of scrubs should also be reduced. In fact, in case of inflamed skin, the peeling worsens inflammation (American Academy of Dermatolgy Association).