Keeping Your Skin Healthy While Wearing A Face Mask
During a pandemic, face masks are effective in helping to prevent the spread of airborne diseases such as Covid-19.
In 2020, the government advised everyone to wear a face mask or cover in most indoor spaces, including public transport, where social distancing may be difficult and where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
Face masks can leave our skin irritated, itchy, and inflamed because our breath gets trapped behind them, creating a warm, moist environment.
People have labelled this as “maskne.” This build-up of sweat and moisture upsets the natural balance of our skin, which can lead to inflammation, rashes, and possibly spots or acne breakouts.
Having a good skincare regime can help to prevent problems from arising. Dr Natalie Rout at Bespoke Smile, Marlow, is our medical doctor, carrying out facial aesthetics and skin treatments.
Have a look at these four top tips recommended by Dr Rout below to deal with, and avoid, skin issues when wearing your face mask.
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The lips are dry and chapped
Dry skin and chapped lips are common skin problems for those of us regularly wearing face masks.
Make sure you protect your lips with a good moisturising lip balm and always apply it after washing your face before you put on your mask and at bedtime.
Breakouts around the mouth and nose
One of the reasons you may suffer from increased acne and spots around the nose and mouth may be because your mask needs a wash.
Increased humidity causes you to sweat under your mask, trapping moisture that blocks your pores with excess sebum and oil.
It is important that you wash your face well using an oil-free face wash and/or cleanser.
This removes any excess oil and dead cells from the surface of the skin, preventing any build-up and subsequent breakouts.
Putting a clean mask on a clean face each day or regularly changing it into a different one, helps to keep your skin fresh and reduces irritation. You could also use micellar water to cleanse your face between masks.
Irritated skin by use of certain fabric face masks
Some fabrics are kinder to the skin than others. Synthetic fabrics (nylon, polyester, and rayon) may be an issue for some people, while cotton and linen fabrics are fairly gentle on the skin.
Masks with a smooth texture inside will help to cut down on any chafing that irritates the lower part of your face.
It is important to use a fragrance-free or hypoallergenic detergent and softener when washing your mask, as heavily scented ones can cause itching.
Wearing a mask for a long period of time
A common complaint from wearing a face mask is the itchiness and irritation caused by the lack of air circulating through the mask.
Because the mask sits tight over the nose and lower face, it can cause the skin to become itchy, dry, and flaky in places.
Use a gentle, hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free moisturiser suitable for your skin type to soothe the dry areas overnight. This will nourish the skin and calm down any irritation.
You can also try a barrier cream, which creates a protective layer between the skin and the moisture produced by the mask.
This helps to prevent the mask from rubbing directly onto the skin.
Other tips to consider when using face masks:
- Wear the right mask.
- Use a soft, natural, and breathable fabric like cotton and check that it fits securely and comfortably, particularly after you have washed it.
- It should fit snuggly over your nose, mouth, and chin with no gaps. You are more likely to adjust a poor fitting mask, risking the transfer of germs to your mask and face.
- Take a break. Take your mask off if it is safe to do so when you do not need to wear it. This allows your skin to breathe and cool down.
- Don’t forget your ears. Try face masks with different loops to see which fits best and most comfortably, especially if you have to wear one for long periods of time.
Written by Dr Natalie Rout, GP and facial aesthetics practitioner.