Maskne: How Masks Are Giving Us Acne and What To Do About It

white face mask

Wearing face coverings has become a normal part of life thanks to COVID-19, and unfortunately, it means you may be dealing with skin issues. Health care workers, who wear personal protective equipment every single day, know just how frustrating maskne can be. 

Even if you don't usually struggle with acne, you may suddenly have new spots popping up. The condition even has a name: 'maskne.' It develops after wearing a face mask for an extended period of time. It includes all types of acne and skin conditions, including blackheads, whiteheads, a damaged skin barrier, and more. 

Thankfully, if your skin is suffering from wearing a mask, there are things you can do to elevate the issues. We are going to go over how your mask is giving you skin problems. We will also explore different options to prevent, treat, and cover your maskne.

Why Masks Are Causing Breakouts

So what's happening to your skin under your mask? It can be a lot more than just acne. Let's go over the different skin conditions that can occur. 

Acne: Blemishes happen when your pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, dirt, and bacteria. All of these things can live on your mask and cause pimples. 

Rosacea: If you already have rosacea, wearing a mask can cause a flare-up. Your outbreaks can lead to pimples and redness. 

Contact Dermatitis and Perioral Dermatitis: This skin condition occurs when you're allergic to the material of your mask. It may look like a red rash, blisters, and general irritation. You may be more prone to contact dermatitis if you have sensitive skin. Perioral dermatitis happens around your mouth and lips. 

Folliculitis: When you get an infection in your hair follicles from germs living on your mask, you can get bumps similar to acne. However, the bumps may be itchy and painful. 

If you have sensitive skin or you already struggle with any of these conditions, you may be more prone to skin issues from your mask. You open yourself up to more problems when you wear a used mask without cleaning it or getting a new disposable one.

Harmful germs and bacteria can live in your mask, including the normal contaminants like dead skin cells. When they sit on your face, they clog your pores, causing maskne. 

How To Prevent Maskne

While you may not be able to stop wearing masks where you live, there are things you can do to prevent maskne from happening. 

Wash Your Mask

One of the best things you can do is to always wear a clean mask. When your mask is carrying contaminants, it can lead to skin problems. If you wear disposable masks, toss them at the end of the day and wear a new one every day. 

You may need to switch to a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent to wash your masks. The chemicals in your normal detergent may be too harsh for the skin on your face. 

Change Your Mask After Sweating

If you're sweating in your mask at the gym or even at an outdoor event, you may need to switch it out for a fresh one.

Since mask-wearing creates a moist environment thanks to your breath, sweat can push things over the edge and lead to even more clogged pores. You also may notice more friction from your mask when the fabric is wet. 

You will want to use a gentle cleanser to clean your face after sweating and grab a new mask. 

Moisturize Your Skin

A skincare routine is key to prevent maskne. Moisturizer is especially important if you struggle with dry skin. The friction from your mask can lead to raw skin, and hydration will protect it from dryness and irritation. 

Some moisturizers can also help prevent breakouts. A dermatologist can recommend a moisturizer for your skin's specific needs. You may need a moisturizer that has ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or dimethicone. 

Someone with dry skin will need something different than an individual with oily skin. Generally, people with more normal skin can use lotion, but people with dry skin need cream, which is more hydrating.

How To Treat Maskne 

There are many strategies to combat acne and other skin problems caused by irritation. You don't want to use harsh acne treatments since it can lead to dry skin, eczema flare-ups, or raw skin from mask friction. 

Here are some steps you can take at home to treat your maskne

  • Cleanse Your Face With a Gentle Cleanser: You want to wash your face at least once a day, if not twice a day. However, a cleanser with harsh ingredients can strip your face of moisture. A gentle cleanser will clear away extra dirt and oil without causing irritation. 
  • Spot Treat: Use a spot treatment in your nighttime skincare routine. Benzoyl peroxide cream, or a product with salicylic acid, can be applied directly to your pimples. 
  • Retinol: A retinol can prevent acne from occurring. It helps with cell turnover and keeping your pores clear. You have to use it for a few months before you see results, and your skin may go through a purging period when you first start using retinol. 
  • Hyperpigmentation: Some maskne may cause hyperpigmentation, which is skin darkening. You may be able to treat it with products that contain glycolic acid. However, you should consult a dermatologist before using these products on a regular basis. 
  • Apply a Barrier: If you have especially irritated and inflamed skin, you may benefit from applying a barrier before wearing a mask. After cleaning and moisturizing your skin, apply a thin layer of ointment where your skin is hurting. Allow the ointment to absorb a little before wearing a mask. This treatment is not for those with acne but with sores from friction or skin irritation. 

How To Hide Maskne

There are ways you can hide your maskne if you're going to be somewhere mask-free. High-quality makeup can hide imperfections without making your skin issues worse. 

You want to look for oil-free makeup that won't clog your pores, especially if you have acne-prone skin. HIDE products are made without oil and are water-based. 

Here are step-by-step directions to concealing your maskne. 

Step 1: After cleaning your skin and applying moisturizer, grab a liquid foundation, like HIDE Premium Foundation. Apply a thin layer to even out your complexion. You don't need to use a lot of product; a little goes a long way. 

Step 2: Use a concealer to cover your problem areas. HIDE Premium Concealer can cover a variety of skin issues, and it feels lightweight on your skin. You can use a damp makeup sponge and gently dab the concealer over your maskne. 

Step 3: Set your makeup with a setting spray. If you have dry skin, don't use a translucent powder to set your face. The powder will accentuate any flakiness you're experiencing. A setting spray will help keep your makeup in place even if you have to wear a mask. 

As a side note, if you have raw skin, don't apply makeup until it has completely healed. Makeup can irritate an open wound and cause more problems. 

In Summary

Maskne is an unfortunate result of having to wear masks. You won't have to wear a mask forever, but there are things you can do to help your skin in the meantime. 

A skincare routine can help treat and prevent maskne. No matter what type of skin issue you have, a moisturizer is a beneficial product for everyone. A dermatologist can recommend the best skin care products for your specific needs.

You can also cover your maskne with makeup. HIDE premium products won't cause irritation and can cover your maskne effortlessly. 



Suffering from breakouts under your mask? How to fight ‘maskne’ | Loma Linda University 

Maskne: What is it and how to avoid | Medical News Today

9 ways to prevent face mask skin problems | AAD