July 18, 2020 5 min read
Facial coverings are encouraged across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For some people, this protective measure may result in a bit of skin irritation. This can be a real problem, particularly for healthcare and essential workers who must wear face masks all day.
One reason irritation occurs is that facial coverings do not allow airflow to the face; when a person breathes, moisture accumulates and becomes trapped on the face. That dark, warm environment can facilitate skin issues like acne.
In addition, masks and facial coverings can irritate the skin simply by rubbing against it, or by exposing the skin to allergens.
If masks are causing you any of the below skin issues, know there are both treatments to help and preventive measures to stop it from recurring.
Wearing a facial covering for extended periods of time can cause skin to become itchy and to peel.
If it's made out of fabric like cotton, the material can absorb natural oil on your face, leaving your skin dry. And residue from laundry detergent and fabric softeners can irritate skin as well (frequent washes of the mask are encouraged).
Use gentle, non-abrasive cleansers to wash your face, like Cetaphil, CeraVe or cleanser made of Aloe Vera for their anti-inflammatory and skin healing properties.
LUCE Beauty has a face wash that contain high concentration of Aloe Vera Gel, and it is non-comedogenic.
After cleansing, pat (don’t rub) your skin dry.
Apply moisturizing cream to dehydrate your skin. Look for skin moisturizing products that contain ceramides, which help the skin maintain a healthy barrier to retain moisture. Ingredients like glycerin and hyaluronic acid are also helpful to draw moisture into the skin.
Using a good moisturizing product is vital to preventing dry, itchy, or peeling skin under a mask.
Other prevention measures include:
A skin rash caused by wearing a facial covering for prolonged periods of time is likely irritant contact dermatitis, the most common form of dermatitis.
This type of dermatitis is caused by direct contact with something that irritates the skin.
Dermatitis can also be caused by an allergic reaction to material in the mask, such as rubber, glue, metal, or formaldehyde. This form of dermatitis is called allergic contact dermatitis.
Unlike irritant contact dermatitis, which can begin shortly after exposure to the mask or facial covering begins. An allergic dermatitis reaction may take up to 48 to 96 hours to appear.
The American Academy of Dermatology lists some simple ways to treat a mild case of contact dermatitis:
Those who are prone to acne may have an increase in breakouts as a result of wearing a facial covering.
Any microorganisms or bacteria on your skin become trapped within the mask. When paired with dampness from breathing and sweating, this can contribute to clogged pores and breakouts.
Standard types of treatment for acne, such as benzoyl peroxide and retinoid treatment, can take time before effectiveness is visible.
Some experts warn that these types of treatments under a mask may result in even more irritation.
Instead, you should:
Rosacea is a skin condition involving enlarged facial blood vessels, causing the nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin to have a flushed appearance.
The condition can also affect the chest. It has many triggers, including heat. Wearing a facial covering increases the temperature of the skin, potentially causing a rosacea flare.
Wearing a face mask or facial covering for long periods of time can result in soreness over the ears and nose. This is caused by the friction of the mask rubbing on the skin.
Taking a break from wearing your facial covering whenever it is safe to do so is the best way to help sore spots heal.
Consider changing the type of covering you are using; for example, try a bandana rather than a covering that hooks onto your ears (like a surgical mask).
DuoDerm is a soft, gel-like substance that is used to create a moist wound-healing environment on the skin. Other types of material can be used to prevent friction, such as Vaseline or zinc oxide.
Plus, enjoy members-only perks, deals, tips, and more!