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preventing maskne

With COVID-19, masking has become a necessity around the world and can cause maskne. Even now, with the pandemic slowly subsiding, more and more people are becoming more conscious about their health and masking as a preventive measure against various diseases.

But while masking is great for preventing exposure to contagious airborne diseases, it brings rise to a whole other problem: skin issues. Individuals across the globe are grappling with a new phenomenon: breakouts, irritation, and various skin concerns directly linked to prolonged mask usage.

Of course, everyone likes to have clear, trouble-free skin. Let’s take a look at how masks cause acne and how to deal with the problem.

Maskne: The Causes

Maskne is a term that has gained popularity in recent times, encapsulating the various skin issues triggered by mask-wearing. Let’s first look at what causes the problem.


The consistent friction between the mask and the skin can lead to a range of issues. The abrasive nature of certain mask materials, coupled with repetitive movements, may cause microtears in the skin's outermost layer. These micro tears not only compromise the skin's integrity but also create entry points for bacteria and other irritants.

Prolonged friction can particularly affect areas where the mask is in direct contact with the skin, such as the bridge of the nose, cheeks, and behind the ears. The result is often redness, chafing, and heightened vulnerability to breakouts.


The pressure exerted by mask straps, coupled with the constant rubbing and shifting of the mask during regular activities, can lead to increased skin sensitivity. Over time, the skin may become more prone to irritation and inflammation, making it a fertile ground for breakouts.

Individuals with pre-existing skin conditions, such as rosacea or eczema, may experience flare-ups due to the added stress imposed by prolonged mask usage. Understanding the dynamics of skin sensitivity is crucial for tailoring skincare routines to address these unique challenges.

Trapping Heat

Masks create a microenvironment in which heat becomes trapped against the skin. This trapped heat can exacerbate pore congestion, leading to a cascade of issues. When pores become congested, the natural flow of sebum (skin oil) is impeded, creating an environment where bacteria proliferate. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of acne breakouts.

The areas most affected by this phenomenon are often characterized by an increase in blackheads, whiteheads, and inflammatory lesions.

Accumulating Moisture

Moisture accumulation under the mask, resulting from factors like breathing and sweating, creates an environment conducive to bacterial growth. This heightened moisture, combined with the warmth generated within the mask, provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. The risk of bacterial infections, including acne-related bacteria, is elevated in this environment.

Preventing Maskne

Identifying Mask-Friendly Skincare

To protect your skin from the problems masks cause, you should adjust your routine to incorporate masks.

Choosing the Right Type of Mask

The first step to avoiding maskne is finding the right mask. Soft, breathable materials like cotton are best for your skin because they reduce friction and keep your skin from getting irritated. Synthetic fibers are a lot more likely to create friction and trap heat, so it’s best to avoid those.

Ensure your mask fits snugly but comfortably, without excessive tightness. A well-fitted mask reduces friction and pressure points, promoting a more comfortable and skin-friendly experience. Choose masks with multiple layers for effectiveness while maintaining breathability.

Adjusting Your Skincare Routine

Modify your skincare products to adapt to the new normal. Opt for lightweight, non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) moisturizers and creams. These products provide essential hydration without adding unnecessary weight or residue to your skin.

Integrate hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and soothing elements like aloe vera into your skincare routine. These ingredients help combat dryness caused by extended mask use and provide a calming effect on irritated skin.

Protection Before Masking


Begin your skincare routine with a gentle cleanser to remove impurities, excess oil, and bacteria from your face. A clean canvas not only promotes better mask adherence but also reduces the risk of breakouts caused by trapped debris.


Follow cleansing with a hydrating moisturizer to maintain skin moisture levels. Prolonged mask use can lead to dryness, and a well-hydrated skin barrier is more resilient to potential irritants. Choose a moisturizer with ingredients like glycerin or ceramides for effective hydration.

Using Skin-Friendly Barriers

For some, it may be a good idea to use protective patches to keep the mask from making direct contact with the skin, especially in areas prone to friction like the cheeks or nose bridge. Silicone patches are particularly effective in preventing chafing and minimizing the impact of constant mask movement.

Other products like skin protectants or barrier creams can also help with this. Formulations with zinc oxide are known for their barrier-enhancing properties.

Protection While Masking

Take Breaks

Take periodic breaks from wearing the mask, especially during extended periods. Allowing your skin to breathe helps alleviate pressure, reduce friction, and prevent the accumulation of heat and moisture. Find a safe, socially distanced spot to remove your mask briefly and expose your skin to fresh air.

Be mindful of activities that may intensify friction and pressure on the skin, such as adjusting the mask too frequently. Minimize unnecessary touching and ensure the mask fits securely without the need for constant readjustment.

Managing Excess Oil and Sweat

Keep oil-absorbing sheets or blotting papers on hand to manage excess oil and sweat. Gently blotting the skin throughout the day helps prevent the clogging of pores, reducing the likelihood of breakouts.

Reapplication of Protective Products

If feasible, reapply a thin layer of protective barrier cream during breaks. This helps reinforce the protective barrier on the skin and provides ongoing defense against friction and irritation.

Protection After Masking


Cleansing isn’t just important before you wear the mask. In fact, it’s actually more important after you take it off. After prolonged mask use, you need to cleanse your face with a gentle, hydrating cleanser to remove accumulated impurities, sweat, and residual products. Avoid harsh cleansers that may strip the skin of essential oils, as this can exacerbate dryness and sensitivity.

It’s best to pick cleansers containing soothing ingredients like chamomile or calendula. These natural extracts can help calm irritated skin and reduce redness, providing relief from the stresses imposed by wearing a mask.

Targeted Treatments for Breakouts

Targeted treatments containing ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help address mask-induced breakouts. These ingredients help unclog pores, reduce inflammation, and combat acne-causing bacteria.

Apply spot treatments or masks specifically on areas prone to breakouts. This focused approach allows you to address localized concerns without overtreating unaffected areas, promoting efficient healing and preventing further skin issues.

Final Word

While maskne is somewhat unavoidable if you mask regularly, it’s not impossible to keep it under control! You can minimize the irritation masks can cause with proper care and preventive measures. Until we no longer have to mask on the regular, a bit of diligence can take your skin a long way.

If your skin troubles persist, it may be an underlying issue that masking is aggravating, and you may have to see a dermatologist to address it. Suncoast Skin Solutions is here to help! Contact us now to book an appointment.

SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Pete / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz, Winter Haven, Largo, Hudson, Leesburg, Jupiter, Lecanto, Riverview, Brooksville, Clearwater, Ocala, Palm Harbor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, Punta Gorda, Seminole, New Port Richie, Jacksonville (Inverness, Port Charlette, Port Saint Lucie coming soon), Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.