As public health and medical professionals learn more about how COVID-19 spreads, they have recommended anyone who will be in close proximity to others when you go out of your house should have a mask to prevent aerosol transmission of virus particles while breathing, talking, or singing. Many state and local leaders have even mandated masks in public places.
Most of us are not accustomed to wearing masks for prolonged periods of time, and some have noticed an increase in breakouts from a type of acne called acne mechanica. If you’re experiencing new or worsening breakouts on the lower half of your face, it could be related to mask wearing.
What is Acne Mechanica?
This is a type of acne caused by excess heat, friction, and rubbing on the skin. Athletes and soldiers often experience these breakouts from things like tight-fitting clothing or undergarments, large backpacks, heavy equipment, pads, and helmets. You may also get it from backpack or purse straps, hats, headbands, and even bra straps. It can occur on your face or your body; if yours is the result of a face mask, you’ll see it in the area under the mask.
While it can affect anyone, it’s more common in people prone to other acne or breakouts. Unlike common acne ( acne vulgaris), it has nothing to do with hormones and everything to do with friction against your skin. Breakouts may begin as small bumps, but could get irritated and turn into more obvious blemishes.
Treating Acne Mechanica
You can treat this type of acne with the same skincare products that you use for other breakouts, including salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide face and body cleansers. Use a soft washcloth and try not to scrub too hard because that causes more friction and irritation. Follow it up with our dry skin or oily skin toner, plus an acne safe moisturizer and sunscreen.
Other steps you can take to reduce the occurrence or severity of acne mechanica:
- Wear a clean mask every day
- Avoid cloth masks made of synthetic fibers
- Wash your cloth masks with fragrance-free detergents and avoid fabric softeners or things that could irritate your skin
- Avoid taking the mask on and off throughout the day, as extra irritation and friction could make acne worse
- Apply a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide under the mask, then let it dry completely before putting your mask on (make sure it’s dry so it doesn’t bleach the mask material)
- Apply a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor under your mask in areas where it commonly rubs against your skin to reduce friction
- Remove the mask immediately when you get back to your car or home, especially if you’ve been working out or sweating in the mask and tone your face. Try not to over wash your face but rather just use a toner to remove any sweat, dirt or bacteria under the mask.
We offer the best products to treat acne, including the kind that is caused by wearing a face covering for prolonged periods of time. Check out our website or schedule a consultation today.