With mask mandates across the country continuing, more and more people are dealing with the struggles of “maskne,” or breakouts and irritation caused by wearing face masks. In fact, medical professionals who have spent their careers in face coverings can attest to the frustratingly stubborn acne that tends to develop across the nose, mouth, and chin.

As we breathe into our masks all day, we create a warm, humid environment that allows breakout-causing bacteria to thrive. It doesn’t help that the friction caused by cloth rubbing against your skin can push those bacteria even deeper into your pores, causing microtears and irritation that only makes the situation worse.

Even people who have never had to deal with major breakouts are struggling with the issue, leaving many to wonder what they can do to get a handle on their skin.

Preventing Mask-Related Breakouts

While you may not be able to completely prevent “maskne,” you can take certain precautions to make the condition less severe.

  1. Always wash your face before you put your mask on. By removing the dirt, dead skin, and oil, you are preventing the key cause of breakouts from being pushed into your pores.
  2. Skip makeup under the mask. When we breathe into our mask, creating warmth and humidity, we are practically inviting our cosmetics to settle in and clog our pores.
  3. Be sure to moisturize. It helps maintain a healthy skin barrier and protects against the friction from the cloth.
  4. Wash your mask each time that you wear it. Forgoing a spin in the washer and dryer creates a bacterial breeding ground that will only make breakouts worse.
  5. Switch to fragrance-free cleansers, soaps, and moisturizers. They can be harsh on your skin, compounding irritation.

Treatment for Common Face Mask Concerns

If prevention hasn’t worked, it’s time to get to work treating common skin concerns caused by wearing your face mask.

  1. For acne, try cleansers made to specifically treat breakouts. Mandelic and glycolic acid are ideal ingredients to bring into your regimen. Sodium hypochlorite in Cln products effectively cleanses skin and helps to stop new breakouts before they begin.
  2. Dry skin under the mask and behind the ears are also common issues. Ignoring dry skin can lead to more serious skin breakdown, where the skin develops fissures that can lead to infection. The best way to fight back is to apply a rich moisturizer in areas where you have flaking, which will help the skin strengthen and rehydrate.
  3. Swap out your masks frequently. Less-irritating options like silk can be gentler on your skin, giving you a break from the harsher cotton options.

No one is sure when mask mandates will end, so switching up your skincare routine now can help you prevent “maskne” breakouts and skin irritation that can lead to permanent damage. If you’re concerned about severe or persistent mask-related skin issues, be sure to chat with your dermatologist about options that can help you heal, renew, and protect your skin.