Face Mask Skin Irritation: Here's What a Dermatologist Says you Can Do
While we are trying to come out of the corona virus and set our lives back into our regular routines, one thing that is going along is the precautions we need to take to protect ourselves from the infection. One such protection is the need to wear a face mask when you step out of your house. With all the government guidelines in place, wearing a face mask whenever you go out in public has become mandatory.
With the increased use of face masks, we have observed that people have started experiencing skin issues and skin irritation on the face. According to a study published by the Journal of Wound Care from the University of Huddersfield in the United Kingdom, medical masks are causing inflammation and skin irritation on the face that can lead to pain and infection.
So, what do we do about it? This blog on face mask skin irritation is all about understanding the logic and working on preventive measures.
Overview of “Skin Irritation to Face Mask’
Wearing a face mask continuously and for more extended periods can lead to skin irritation on the face. When wearing a mask, your mouth is covered fully, and your breath is trapped, creating a humid environment for your skin. It leads to sweating underneath the mask, which causes friction and leads to damage on and around the nose and cheeks.
According to statistics, more than one-third of frontline healthcare workers suffered from severe skin reactions after wearing N95 masks daily for a prolonged time. People report problems like breakouts, rashes, redness, skin irritation, and acne on the face.
The acne caused by continual mask wear even got a name for themselves because of their common occurrence and are known as ‘maskne.’ In some instances, continuous mask wear can also lead to severe skin irritation on face such as rosacea miliaria. Wearing a face mask for skin is causing irritation across their nasal bridge, behind the ears, and under the chin. Some skin problems from wearing face mask on skin include-
- Acne- if someone is already prone to acne, wearing a face mask can lead to further breakouts. Masks block and close the hair follicles due to the sweating and dirt traps that happen because of constant coverage and lack of transpiration. This in turn leads to acne. And sometimes, things do not stop at acne. Severe damages can result into the acne turning into blood red pimple or even rosacea.
- Dry skin, peeling and itching- The heat of your breath that gets trapped inside essentially dries your skin and can cause redness, skin peels or itching. For instance, if you have been in colder weather, you must have realised how continuous wearing of caps makes your forehead scaly or dry. Well, a mask does the same in case of prolonged wear.
- Itchy rashes- wearing a mask for prolonged periods can also lead to rashes resulting from allergic reactions to formaldehyde, metals, rubbers, or glues present in the mask.
And yes, dry eye is one really serious concern. Check out the guidelines shared by Core for a better understanding.
What things should we care about while using a face mask for skin?
Not a lot, but few very critical things:
- Do not keep adjusting your mask all the time. The continuous movement against your skin will create friction and hence damage the skin
- Go for lighter shades if you may for the reusable masks. Darker shades don’t look dirty and hence we think that they are good to be used daily. However, this assumption is really faulty and can result in serious infections. So, wear a lighter shade that shows you the truth!
- Go for softer fibres. Satin masks are available as well and you can use them
- Do not buy masks with a mesh screen on the inner surface. The mesh leaves a print on the face and given the lesser area of contact, causes more wear than normal
- Always check the fit of the mask before buying. It shouldn’t be too loose but it shouldn’t be too tight as well. If this works for you, then go for a mask with medium fit and use a face shield over it.
Perfect care for your face skin during quarantine to avoid skin irritation on the face
Well, let’s cut the chase and share with you the few tips that our expert dermatologists at Kosmoderma have been not just suggesting but also following themselves to avoid any face mask based skin damage. So, here we go!
- Cleanliness is next to godliness- stay true to this adage and maintain complete hygiene around you. Wash your hands regularly for atleast 20 seconds to avoid spreading any germs or bacteria on the face.
- Do not over-exfoliate your skin. You being at home doesn’t mean you will exfoliate or scrub the skin every other day. It can lead to itching and face soreness.
- Follow a proper CTM routine (cleanse, tone and moisturize)- while many individuals might be following this ritual on a daily basis, it becomes all the more necessary to cleanse and moisturize your face once you are home and remove the mask. Wash your face with a gentle, chemical-free cleanser that is not harsh on the skin and cleanses the face thoroughly. Always follow up with a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated as it can lead to dryness and redness of the skin. Choose moisturizer as per your skin type and look for ingredients like Ceramides and Hyaluronic acid that help prevent breakouts and acne.
- Use that Chapstick: Wearing a face mask for a long duration sucks moisture from the lips and makes them dry. Saw that ad about moisturising your lips- well the claim is right! So, moisturise your lips well. A honey lemon paste applied at the end of the day will go a long way in keeping your lips nourished.
- Probably NO Makeup: Yes, because anyway, it’s just your eyes that will show so, why even bother. And if the dark circles seem too much for you and you feel that you need to hide them to feel confident, about time you considered going for some good under eye treatments.
- Wearing the right mask- one of the most important things to consider is to look for the mask that you are wearing. A mask made of cotton or fabric that is soft, natural, and breathable will prevent any kind of skin irritation on face. The mask should be snug but with a comfortable fit. Avoid fabrics like synthetic, nylon, and polyester which can lead to redness and irritation.
- Washing the cloth mask- If you are going for a cloth mask then we would recommend that they should be washed after every use to remove any dirt or dust that may have stuck to them. Also, use lukewarm water to wash the masks. It will not just remove any microbes better but also soften the overall texture.
Face masks have become the new normal. Even if the vaccine comes, it’s going to take some time before people are allowed to go out without masks. So, like we always say- why not be better safe than sorry?
PS: This blog was mostly focussed on the skin bits of the protection. However, masks can impact your other bodily functions too. This image from OhioHealth focuses on it! So, while we will be there to take care of your skin, make sure that if you are facing any below mentioned symptoms, you get in touch with the relevant specialist for help!
So, until next time- Stay Safe!