Find out the best maskne tips for prevention and treatment. Mask acne or ‘maskne’ for short is a new term coined during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. It refers to acne that has developed around the areas of skin-mask contact. This affects areas such as the cheeks, the area around the mouth, around the nose, and the jawline – known as the O-zone pattern1. Maskne is a disorder of follicular occlusion, and is directly related to mechanical stress from pressure, occlusion and friction of face mask wear, and microbiome dysbiosis from heat, change in pH and moisture from biofluids.
Method 1: Use gentle cleansers
Cleansers with active antibacterial ingredients is important to maintain a healthy skin microbiome and prevent bacterial growth. Ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid have been proven to aid in maskne treatment which are often found in gentle cleansers.
One of the more effective maskne tips is to use medical grade honey, an ingredient used in cleansers which has natural emulsifying, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties for effective cleansing. Natural honey is also a humectant, trapping a layer of moisture for protection after cleansing and is suitable for those with sensitive skin.
Medical grade honey is used in the Miel Honey Cleanser which has natural emulsifying, antibacterial, anti-fungal properties for gentle and effective cleansing in eczema-prone individuals. Natural honey is also a humectant, trapping a layer of moisture for protection after cleansing.
Method 2: Use skin barrier-repairing moisturizers
Moisturizers containing humectants and “Prescription Emollient Devices”(PEDs), are ideal for acne prevention. Ingredients to look out for in a moisturizer should include humectants like glycerin, amino acids, natural moisturizing factors, sodium hyaluronate, and polyglutamic acid which draw moisture from the environment to the upper layer of the skin, helping to reduce transepidermal water loss. However, common humectants such as lactic acid and urea should be avoided. When these are worn under occlusion, they interact with sweat and moisture to alter skin PH, causing irritant contact dermatitis. Examples of PEDs include optimal ceramide/lipid mixtures with anti‐inflammatory ingredients such as glycyrrhetinic acid.
Another one of our maskne tips is to look out for humectants and emollients instead of occlusives (petroleum jelly, mineral oil-based liquid paraffin). This applies to both dry and combination/oily skin. The occlusive effect of the face mask in combination with a humid climate can lead to worsening of facial eczema and trigger occlusion acne.
Method 3: Avoid leave on skincare with irritating ingredients under your mask
More maskne tips include avoiding ingredients such as alcohol, salicylic acid, alpha‐hydroxy acids, tea tree oil, benzoyl peroxide and retinols when looking for leave-on acne skincare formulations. These increase risk of irritant contact dermatitis – an allergy caused by active ingredients in acne spot creams. Wearing a face mask creates a moist, occlusive effect that increases the absorption of these astringent (skin-drying) ingredients, leading to a heightened risk of skin irritation.
Additionally, benzoyl peroxide can cause bleaching of the mask and may alter the structural integrity of the face mask – rendering it less effective for controlling droplet spread.
Method 4: Use over the counter acne creams
Acne formulations that contain plant-derived anti-inflammatory active ingredients are recommended for use under a face mask.These have anti-inflammatory effects and are usually better tolerated, with minimal risk of irritant contact dermatitis that can be caused by harsh astringent ingredients.
Look out for ingredients like Chlorella Vulgaris that works by regulating sebum production and inhibiting spot inflammation. Berberine is a botanical active that has been proven to be bactericidal, have oil control and anti-inflammatory functions, which can help in the prevention and treatment of maskne. Additionally, zinc oxide formulations have proven to be effective in treatment of acne. Its antimicrobial properties are recommended in maskne prevention. It is also well established in inhibiting bacterial growth and also controls oil gland activity without causing skin irritation especially after prolonged face mask wear.
The custom compounded Prescriptive Skin – Acne Treatment contains organic berberine extract that helps to target mechanisms in acne formation. It helps to block sebum production, is anti-inflammatory and bactericidal. Treating acne scarring and erythema, it also helps to inhibit melanin formation and combat oxidative stress
Hydrocolloid acne patches are also helpful in the treatment of maskne as they can help to prevent touching or picking that can lead to scarring or infections. They also create an optimal microenvironment for faster and better healing, and help to increase absorption of active ingredients in pimple creams.
Method 5: Use a breathable fabric face mask
Textile-skin friction and the occlusive skin environment resulting from face mask wear is a trigger to several dermatological conditions such as acne mechanica, frictional dermatitis, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Biofunctional face masks are an option for face masks which have higher evaporation rates, reduces the sensation of stickiness, and overall provide more breathability.
A breathable fabric mask can help to wick moisture away and keep the skin dry, maintaining an optimal skin microbiome that can help to treat and prevent maskne. Furthermore, biofunctional textiles such as copper, zinc and silver impregnated fabrics are bactericidal, and can be used to treat skin infections or diseases triggered off by bacteria including acne and maskne. The goal of a reusable face mask is to contain respiratory droplets and prevent it from spreading to the environment.
The CUIONS Anti Aging + Anti Maskne mask is clinically proven to be more hygienic than the standard fabric mask. It has anti-odor properties with the copper ions killing bacteria/fungi/microbes that come into contact with the mask. This is particularly suited for comfortable wear against your skin over prolonged periods.
Method 6: Keep your face mask clean
Another tip is to wash your reusable face mask regularly. Washing at high temperatures can help to destroy both odour and disease. If daily washing of fabric masks isn’t possible, applying a hot iron (356–428 Fahrenheit at standard settings) on both sides of the fabric is sufficient to kill respiratory viruses, including the COVID‐19 virus.
When removing the mask to eat, drink or exercise, it is best to loop it under the jawline to reduce environmental contamination. This also minimises the risks of mask dislocation and need for constant adjustment. Follow our maskne tips to prevent acne breakouts.
Teo W. L. (2021). Diagnostic and management considerations for “maskne” in the era of COVID-19. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 84(2), 520–521. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2020.09.063
Teo WL. The “Maskne” microbiome – pathophysiology and therapeutics [published online ahead of print, 2021 Feb 12]. Int J Dermatol. 2021;10.1111/ijd.15425. doi:10.1111/ijd.15425Tags: Acne, Maskne, Skincare