Combat Maskne: Here we are with yet another COVID-19 induced issue: acne caused by chronic mask wearing; AKA maskne. Some people are suffering from a red acne-like rash in the area that is covered by your mask. This is actually called mechanical acne, caused by the constant rubbing of the mask against the hair follicles on the skin. Some athletes might experience this same type of acne when sweating under a helmet or hat for long periods of time. Maskne is made even worse by the humid air from your breath and the lack of oxygen under the mask. These factors increase the likelihood of infection on the skin; usually caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
All rashes are annoying, look irritated, and might feel uncomfortable, but the danger of this particular bacteria is that it can increase a person’s susceptibility to systemic infection, which makes it necessary to treat. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is drug-resistant, meaning that antibiotics are largely ineffective at killing it, leaving treatment somewhat nebulous to most dermatologists.
Prevention is the number one key in avoiding this condition. Be gentle with your skin. Avoid using harsh chemical cleansers and soaps that increase the sensitivity of your skin. The constant rubbing of the mask against your skin will make your skin more sensitive. Don’t add to it with harsh soaps or skin treatments. Don’t wear anything under your mask. Avoid sunscreens, lip balms and lipsticks that can add moisture under your mask. Take breathing breaks throughout the day to allow the air to oxygenate your face. Finally, you can spray your mask with silver a few times each day to help decrease the bacterial load on your skin.
If you have maskne, you are going to want to practice the preventive techniques above, but you also want to treat yourself, particularly if your skin is indeed infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Because this bacteria is drug-resistant, we have to rely on natural medicine to do the work (hooray natural medicine!). Certain herbs, essential oils, and other natural substances, however, can help kill the bacteria and bring balance back to your skin. Yet another way to combat maskne naturally.
My first recommendation is a topical probiotic. It may sound strange, but our skin, just like our gut, is teeming with bacteria. Applying a topical probiotic can do wonders to help balance the microbiome of the skin. The bacteria lactobacillus plantarum, specifically, has been shown to inhibit the growth of pseudomonas aeruginosa and helps to heal the skin.
I would also recommend using honey topically. Honey, particularly from bees that pollinate the manuka bush in New Zealand, has unparalleled antimicrobial properties. Honey is really the liquid gold of skin infections; capable of killing bacteria, fungus, and viruses, reducing redness and swelling, and significantly lowering healing time.
If you have to wear a mask for hours at a time, kudos to you! Here at Vail Valley Pharmacy, we feel your pain, and appreciate your commitment to preventing the spread of this coronavirus. It is not easy to have your mouth and nose covered, and having skin irritation and infection just adds to the discomfort. I hope that you find help in this article, and that you bring balance back to your beautiful face!
Don’t forget to contact Dr. Klearman if you need professional assistance to combat maskne.