Are you Suffering from Maskne?

This is not a stupid misspelling, but the latest international term related to the corona pandemic. Mask-ne consists of the two words mask and acne and describes a skin problem that can affect everyone – women and men.

The street scene worldwide is dominated by masks. They are now available as fashion accessories with the most unusual patterns and colors. Unfortunately, the skin underneath often looks less beautiful. The problem is called Masken. It is used to describe the skin irritations and pimples that spread under the fabric. This is due to the so-called occlusion effect. The mask prevents sweat and heat from being released normally by the skin and evaporates. Instead, heat builds up, causing the horny layer to swell. This makes it more permeable to pollutants. The moisture that favors this bacterial formation also reduces the permeability of the mask, which makes breathing more difficult. Especially in summer, when you sweat more anyway, this skin irritation can increase.In addition, the sebum gland activity increases, which in turn can be a breeding ground for bacteria and consequent impurities. A kind of perioral dermatitis develops, a rash around the mouth. This is not acne in the classic sense, but rather an acne mechanica that has mechanical triggers like the friction of fabric. It is known from football players who have to wear a helmet with a chin strap for many hours and then have inflammation and irritation at this point, which can lead to clogged pores and deep acne cysts. “We also observed cases of mask, a dermatitis caused by wearing a mask, during the SARS epidemic,” says Dr. Michelle Henry, dermatologist in New York. Increased hormone releases such as the stress hormone cortisol can also play a role because it stimulates the sebaceous glands and thus also provokes acne. And who is not stressed during this time!

A worldwide problem

In the current Covid19 times, the maskne phenomenon can be observed globally. American nurses report how their skin has deteriorated since the constant mask requirement. They say that if you wear an N95 mask (highest security level) and then a surgical mask over it, the bacterial growth on the skin develops like in a petri dish in a laboratory. Quickly and generously. The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published a study that found that 97 percent of staff in the central Chinese province of Hubei had skin problems caused by wearing the masks. But not only those who have to walk around with a mask for hours every day can be affected. Dry and sensitive skin is particularly vulnerable. Therefore, avoiding mask protection is of course not an option. But there are a number of things you can do to reduce the sauna-like environment when wearing it.

It starts with the right products

„Keep an eye out for moisturizers that are rich in hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamides (vitamin B3) to create a barrier between the skin and the mask ’,” advises the New York based dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler. The product should not be comedogenic, which means that it does not clog the pores or cause impurities. Apply the moisturizer in the morning and evening, but also during the day when there is a feeling of dryness under the mask. And even though half the face is covered by the mask, you shouldn’t do without sun protection. Be particularly gentle when cleaning. Dr. Wexler recommends cleaning the face, if possible, before and after wearing the mask, but especially before going to bed. Be sure to use a mild product that doesn’t dry out the skin. Women who do not want to do without foundation or tinted day creams under the mask should use oil-free products and apply them sparingly so as not to increase the occlusive effect. Most of the applied product gets stuck in the mask anyway, so it’s better to apply a talc-free powder thinly. It absorbs the sweat without straining the pores.

How to treat irritations

If the first signs of maskne becomes noticeable, you should omit foundation and concealer. “It could make the problem worse by clogging the pores,” Wexler said. Even if you are tempted to use several anti-acne products to get rid of pimples as quickly as possible, less is more. Under no circumstances wash the skin with too much, exfoliate and treat other acne treatments, so you only risk further irritation and inflammation. “Make sure that the cleanser, serum or spot treatment used only contains low-dose salicylic acid (maximum 2%),” explains Dr. Wexler. “The biggest mistake is to dry out the skin too much. If the complexion has not improved after a few days, it is best to consult your doctor.“ A proven alternative to salicylic acid is, by the way, benzoyl peroxide of 3-5% to kill the inflammation germs. These classic acne treatments are best performed at night because the mask could rub on the critical areas during the day. Prefer to stick spot patches on individual pimples during the day. They protect the inflammation and are conditioned to suck out what does not belong in the pores and loosen the dead skin cells that block the access. Advantage of wearing a mask: nobody sees the spot patches!

photo: shutterstock@Roman Samborskyi


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