Team Costhetics is a big fan of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

We don’t get a lot of news and information about the world of cosmetic surgery and aesthetic enhancement there, but we do get plenty of laughs. Recently, we were pleased when our favourite host said how excited he is to see COVID restrictions lifting and how his ‘maskne’ seems to be clearing up. That’s great to hear.

Trevor’s enthusiasm aside, we should all expect facial masks will be with us for some time to come. Unfortunately, that means maskne, the annoying acne-like spots we get from wearing protective gear will be with us, too.

What is Maskne?

You may not know maskne by name, but if your face is red, irritated and covered in bumps, it knows you. A combination of the words mask and acne, maskne refers to pimples that erupt in areas of your face that come into contact with your mask. For most people, maskne is most problematic on:

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Chin

“Maskne is another term for acne mechanica,” a dermatologist told Forbes Magazine. “(They) form on the skin in areas that are occluded (blocked or sealed-in), such as under a mask.”

4 Things that Cause Maskne

Several factors come together under your mask to wreak havoc with your skin, causing pores to clog and dead skin cells to stay trapped:

  • Excess moisture
  • Trapped bacteria
  • Increased oil production
  • Irritation

It’s ironic that doing something good for your overall health is so hard on skin health. We’ve almost grown accustomed to having a piece of material covering a majority of our face, obscuring our features and muting our voices. What we haven’t become accustomed to is the discomfort it causes.

Skin Problems Related to COVID Masking

Even people with normally problem-free skin are affected by wearing a mask for long periods of time. In addition to mild to severe cases of maskne, mask wearing can also cause:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis (facial dandruff)
  • Perioral dermatitis
  • Rosacea
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Allergic reactions (especially for masks made from latex)

Masks are not the real problem. “I don’t want people to feel like not wearing a mask is the way to get your skin clear,” a nurse practitioner told ABC News. “(We need to) make sure that we’re using them appropriately…washing them…taking breaks from them when we can, and…wearing the type that’s kind of suitable for what we’re doing,”

6 Ways to Fight Back against Maskne

So, what are you (and Trevor Noah) going to do to minimise the effect of wearing a mask in the weeks to come? Experts say:

  1. Keep it Clean – Wash your mask daily with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry soap. Use hot water. Do not use bleach, which can irritate the skin.
  2. Take It Off, Take It All Off – Give your face a 15-minute mask break every four hours. If possible, wash your face and reapply your moisturiser. (Only do this when you are safe and away from others)
  3. Go Bare – Putting on makeup under your mask may make your feel better, but it clogs pores and causes breakouts.
  4. Don’t Be Picky – Scratching skin outbreaks can make inflammation worse. It can also lead to permanent scarring.
  5. Loosen Up – Your mask should be snug enough to keep our germs, but loose enough so that it’s comfortable. The pressure from a too-tight mask can cause skin barrier breakdown.
  6. Go Silky – A mask made of silk fabric will slide over skin and reduce irritation and friction. They are naturally anti-bacteria for your skin and can be supplemented by an outer mask for extra protection. Avoid synthetics such as polyester and nylon if possible.

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