[WELLNESS]How to prevent maskne - acne caused by mask

Acne is a common condition in Korea, over 70% of men and women aged 20 years and older admitted experiencing some degree of facial acne. After the teenaged years, women are more likely to report having acne than men in all age groups.

Even if you were lucky enough to have left breakouts behind when you entered adulthood, you may have experienced a resurgence in your 20s or 30s due to air pollution, stressful lifestyle, and diet. 2020 challenges people every day with health-threatening virus spread, stressful news, dramatic lifestyle changes, and emotional rollercoasters.

In reaction to the global spread of COVID-19 earlier this year, scientists and medical professionals recommended wearing masks. Wearing a mask for long periods of time is nothing new to doctors, nurses, and others working in medicine, but having to wear a mask every time you leave the house is a new experience for most of us. For many, the resulting “maskne” is a new experience as well. What’s more, the added summer heat and anxiety only add to skin problems.

Here’s what you need to know about maskne, how to properly treat it, and how to prevent it from happening.

What is Maskne, Anyway?

Everything has a nickname these days and maskne is just what you might assume – acne caused by mask use. Wearing a mask doesn’t directly cause acne, but long-term wear can create conditions that lead to acne such as clogged pores. Breathing into a cloth mask for hours can result in bacteria, oil, and dead skin cells becoming trapped in your pores, increasing the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and other acne conditions. The longer and more often you wear a mask, the greater your risk for maskne.

Here are some simple tips for treating maskne:

  • Wash your face frequently to remove acne-causing bacteria as well as dirt and excess oil. If you have oily skin, you may want to keep some facial wipes on hand to use throughout the day.
  • Give your skin a break from the mask whenever possible – take it off when you’re at home or outdoors away from other people.
  • Consider using a barrier cream if you wear your mask for more than 30 minutes at a time. These creams are made with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid which protect your skin’s natural moisture barrier, helping prevent dryness and other issues like maskne.
  • If you wear a reusable cotton mask, wash it frequently to remove acne-causing bacteria. Keep several masks on hand so you always have a clean one to use.
  • Make sure your reusable cloth mask is completely dry before wearing it – wearing a damp mask can create acne-causing conditions underneath that may make your breakouts worse.

Once you get your maskne under control, the next step is to prevent it from coming back.  
Read on for more prevention tips:

  • Use a separate towel for your face and body. Don't let your towel be soaked (that can cause bacteria growth on your towel) and spread it widely on the towel rack to have it always dry. Change face towel often - 2, 3 times a week.
  • Keep your mask (and your face) clean to prevent the buildup of dirt, oil, and bacteria on your skin.
  • Use spot treatments like benzoyl peroxide to banish blemishes as needed.
  • Don't use skincare products right before you have to wear a mask. Wait until your daily skincare product is fully absorbed. It will help avoid acne-causing conditions under the mask
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