What Is Maskne and Mask Skin?
In short, maskne or mask skin are completely non-scientific terms for what happens when your skin becomes irritated from wearing a surgical face mask for long periods of time.
Say, during a pandemic.
"Wearing a mask regularly may contribute to dermatological conditions such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and contact dermatitis," dermatologist and senior conjoint lecturer at UNSW Dr Deshan Sebaratnam explains.
Why Is My Face Mask Giving Me Pimples?
Dr Sebaratnam says "tight masks may lead to occlusion (blockage) of the pores, creating an environment that promotes the development of acne."
The most common places people are finding blemishes are on the cheeks, chin and around the mouth. It makes sense when you think about the warm, moist air from your own breath trapped under your mask. Yum.
Face Masks and Rosacea - What's the Deal?
If you've had rosacea flare ups in the past, there's a decent chance you might be experiencing them again if you're wearing face masks daily.
Dr Sebaratnam sees two really common forms of rosacea in his work that may be affected by wearing masks: papulopustular rosacea and erythematotelangiectatic rosacea.
"Papulopustular rosacea causes pimples and small bumps on the skin. Tight masks may contribute to these pimples because of occlusion of the pores as described above."
"Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea causes redness, flushing and broken blood vessels on the skin. Heat can contribute to this process."
What About Face Masks and Dermatitis?
Again, there are a couple different types of dermatitis (inflammation within the epidermis a.k.a. the top layer of the skin) that don't play well with face masks.
The first is seborrheic dermatitis, which is caused by an imbalance of a yeast called Malassezia, a part of the normal flora of the skin.
"Anything which disturbs the natural balance of the skin (such as wearing a mask) may contribute to seborrheic dermatitis," Dr Sebaratnam says.
Then, there's allergic contact dermatitis - something you may have come across already on your hands if you're required to wear gloves in your workplace.
"Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by a heightened sensitivity to a particular chemical by an individual's immune system. Molecules from a mask such as dyes, glues or fragrances may leach from masks and penetrate the skin leading to contact dermatitis - a moist environment and long periods of contact contribute to this
Side note - watch beauty influencer Iain Jeffery share his acne skincare routine in the YouTube video below!