Human skin Acne

As part of the initiative to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) recommends that wearing a mask, that covers the nose and mouth and fits snugly against the sides of the face.

Wearing a mask is required in many public places and has become a part of our daily routine.  However, some are finding that extensive wear may lead to skin irritation or breakouts. Masks help to trap saliva or other types of water droplets from escaping into the air and transmitting COVID. They can also trap moisture and create an environment for bacteria to thrive. Additionally, the fabrics used to make certain masks can irritate sensitive skin.

All of these elements may contribute to the development of the following conditions:

Acne – Pimples, whiteheads or blackheads caused by pores becoming clogged with oil, dead skin, and dirt. 

Rosacea – If you already have rosacea, wearing a mask can irritate your skin and cause a flare-up.

Contact dermatitis – The material used to make the mask may cause an allergic reaction, especially if you have sensitive skin. The reaction may come in the form of a red rash and blisters.

Folliculitis – Wearing a mask for long periods of time can cause your hair follicles to become infected and cause bumps on your skin.  These bumps can be itchy and painful and appear similar to acne.

Some ways to prevent these types of conditions are:

  • Wash your face regularly.
  • Use a gentle cleanser.
  • Apply cortisone cream and moisturizer to your face and neck.
  • Avoid wearing makeup while you are wearing your mask.
  • Frequently changing disposable masks
  • Washing your reusable mask with hypoallergenic soaps.
  • Use topical antibiotic cream to prevent a breakout before wearing your mask.
  • Always wash your hands before removing your mask.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends removing your mask for 15 minutes every 4 hours to give your skin a breather.  Additionally, try removing your face mask in instances when you are in a situation where physical distancing is an option.

Keep in mind that wearing a mask is extremely effective in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus and choosing the right type of mask can alleviate some skin irritations you may be experiencing.

If your skin irritation persists, you may want to seek the advice of a dermatologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Ambulatory Care Center.  Please call 718-206-7001 for an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.