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  3. Avoiding Skin Irritation from Face Coverings

Avoiding Skin Irritation from Face Coverings

Release Date: July 16, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local public health departments are asking the public to help curb the spread of the coronavirus by wearing cloth face coverings in public and other locations where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.  The types of face coverings recommended by the CDC aren’t as tight fitting as surgical masks or N95 respirators, but they can still cause skin irritations such as acne breakouts, sometimes referred to as “maskne” (mask acne).

What causes maskne?

Oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria naturally found on the face, combined with humidity from sweat and breathing into your face covering, can clog pores Friction from face coverings can also cause skin irritation.  A combination of these conditions can lead to pimples, rashes, and other skin issues.

Tips for avoiding maskne:

  • Change disposable masks several times each day and dispose of them instead of saving them for future use.
  • Keep several cloth face masks on hand and wash them after each use. Wash your cloth face masks with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
  • Use cotton fabrics if you choose to make your own masks.
  • Consider not wearing a face covering while exercising If you cannot maintain a safe distance from others and must wear a face covering during exercise, always wash your face covering after exercising.
  • Don’t wear a face covering if you’re alone or cohabitating with family or the same group of people.
  • Avoid wearing makeup when using a face covering.  Makeup promotes clogged pores.

Skin Care Tips:

  • Clean your face twice a day with a fragrance- and perfume-free skin cleanser.
  • Pat your skin dry and avoid rubbing your face with a towel.
  • Apply a moisturizer that doesn’t clog pores (often referred to as non-comedogenic) after cleansing. This will act as a barrier of protection between your skin and the mask.   

If you continue to experience breakouts after following these recommendations, please contact your primary care doctor or a dermatologist.


Last Updated: 07/16/2020
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