Maskne: Underneath that mask is a new skin condition of Covid-19 era

The right type of mask should have at least two layers of fabric.

Photo credit: Fotosearch

What you need to know:

  • Laundering washable masks with heavily scented detergents or softeners can cause itching, redness or rashes
  • Choosing a natural fibre-cloth mask can help prevent skin irritation or sensitivity
  • Using unscented laundry products is also advised

The idea of wearing a mask has now become a reality for many in the country as it continues to change the way people interact and run their lives.

However, there is a new problem, now referred to as ‘maskne’ (mask + acne), that comes with wearing a mask. Maskne is a term used to describe acne in the area covered by a mask.

Healthcare and other front-line workers are most at risk because their masks are tighter-fitting and they are wearing them longer. Dr Hosea Waweru, a dermatologist, says masks have no side effect on the skin unless you are wearing the wrong quality.

The right type of mask should have at least two layers of fabric. Must be soft, natural, and have breathable fabric, such as cotton, on the inside layer that rests against your skin.

Gentle cleanser

Synthetic fabrics, such as nylon, polyester and rayon are more likely to irritate your skin and cause breakouts. “There is no proven fact that masks affect the skin and they should be worn at all time to protect yourself from the virus,” he said.

Dr Waweru said laundering washable masks with heavily scented detergents or softeners can cause itching, redness or rashes. Choosing a natural fibre-cloth mask and unscented laundry products can help prevent skin irritation or sensitivity.

“However the quality of the mask must be checked and if you are using a cloth mask then you must also be keen on the type of soap and detergents used to clean them because that could be a reason for irritated skin,” he said.

He added that some products used on the face can clog the pores which in turn leads to break outs and people tend to confuse this as a side effect of the mask. “Consider mask wearing a good excuse to adopt the most basic skin care routine: a gentle non-soap cleanser and a mild, fragrance-free moisturiser,” he said.

Dr Waweru explained that the products used on the face can also have an effect on it and that applying moisturiser added a protective layer that could reduce dryness. “You can prevent breakouts from your skin by using a moisturiser formulated for your skin type,” he said.

For those with dry skin, he advised that they can protect their lips by applying lip balm because dry skin and chapped lips were common face mask skin problems.

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