In a journal published by Mills and Kligman (1975), they defined Acne mechanica as local exacerbations due to pressure, friction, rubbing, squeezing, or stretching. The physical trauma brought about by the mask stimulates acneiform eruptions in many patients. Mask causes friction against the skin and this constant rubbing may lead to skin irritation. In addition, the humidity, sweat, oil and saliva trapped inside the mask serve as a good breeding ground for yeast or bacterial organism.
Anyone may be affected by maskne but those with sensitive skin, atopic dermatitis and rosacea are at greater risk. In this pandemic, wearing a face mask is really a must. Masks along with proper handwashing and social distancing will protect us from the invisible enemy. While maskne is really troublesome, it is important to note that it can be prevented. I always tell patients to make their skin care routine as simple as possible. I believe that less is more so the less you wear make up the more your skin breathes.
Here are my suggestions to prevent maskne:
- Wash your face twice a day. Overwashing dries your skin and removes its natural protective barrier so it makes your skin more prone to acne .
- Use hypoallergenic face wash because they do not contain harsh ingredients that may irritate your skin.
- Use fragrance-free moisturizer.
- Use light colored mask as this contain less dye. Dyes used in clothing may bleed and may cause irritation.
- Wear mask that is made out of natural fabrics such as cotton and linen. When making your own mask avoid those that are “non-repellant or “non-iron” as they usually contain Formaldehyde resins to make them wrinkle-resistant.
- Wash your new mask 3x before initial use to remove formaldehydes, dyes and additives used in textile processing as this can cause irritation.
- If you start getting acne wash face with cleanser or gel containing 2.5- 5 % Benzoyl Peroxide.
- If you can take a break from wearing mask, then do so when it’s safe to remove it.
- Use products like retinol, glycolic or salicylic acid only at bedtime.
- If the lesion is swollen, red and itchy, it is probably not acne.This may be contact irritant dermatitis so do not DIY your treatment and consult your physician or skin care provider.
If all else fails, then it’s time to seek advice from a skin expert. For stubborn acne, over the counter acne preparations alone might not work, so patients are prescribed oral antibiotics or Isotretinoin which at times cause severe side effects. At Melanin Laser Clinic, we achieve excellent results by using a combination of topical treatment and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy with the Dermalase IPL. IPL acts as photodynamic therapy that causes thermal damage of P.acnes porphyrins after exposure to the light source. This is done every 2-4 weeks and usually takes 4-6 treatments.