Is Your Face Mask Causing Acne? How to Treat Maskne

Facts: Wearing face masks is one of the most effective means of slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, they can also bring on bothersome side effects and irritate your skin.

Can face masks cause acne? In a word, yes.

Maskne is a term coined to describe facial breakouts caused by face masks. Read on for more tips on how to treat and prevent maskne, so that you can rock your face mask comfortably!

More: 7 Tips to Stop Face Masks from Fogging Up Glasses

What is Maskne?

Maskne, or face mask acne, is caused by the humidity accumulated from wearing face masks for extended periods.

Humidity is a breeding ground for acne, blocking pores with sweat, oil, dirt and makeup, triggering breakouts.

Face masks provide a layer of protection against airborne germs, but they can also irritate the skin and cause acne flare-ups. Masks can even absorb your skin’s natural oils, causing your body to overcompensate and produce more oil, leading to more acne. It’s a vicious circle.

Acne mechanica is maskne caused by the mask’s friction against your skin. Excessive face mask friction can damage your skin’s protective barrier, inflame hair follicles, or result in contact dermatitis and rosacea.

How to Treat Maskne

If you currently have maskne, have no fear. Here are a few tips on how to treat maskne:

  • Cleanse your skin thoroughly (but avoid scrubbing or rubbing) twice a day.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water and follow with moisturizer to hydrate your skin and prevent friction from your mask.
  • Use fragrance-free, oil-free products to avoid clogging pores. Avoid leave-on products that get trapped under your mask.
  • Use acne spot treatments like salicylic acid, sulfur, zinc or 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide.
  • If your mask irritates your skin at contact points, try using a “barrier” product like Aquaphor Healing Ointment.

If your maskne doesn’t respond to self-care treatments, see a dermatologist for prescription medications.

How to Prevent Maskne

Once you treat existing maskne, you’ll want to take steps to avoid developing it again. Learn how to prevent maskne by following these best practices.

Take Care of Your Skin

To prevent maskne, implement a good skincare regimen to keep your skin clean and moisturized.

Always wear your mask over a clean face. Wait 15 minutes after applying any moisturizer or sunscreen before you put your mask on.

And, whenever safely possible, get some fresh air. Observing social distancing guidelines, take regular mask breaks away from others, at home or in your car. Spare a moment to blot excess oil off your face or rehydrate your skin with a wipe or facial mist.

Consider Skipping Makeup

Since wearing face masks obscures most of your face, you might be able to skip face makeup (like foundation, concealer and primers) altogether.

Makeup can clog pores, leading to acne breakouts. If you still wish to wear makeup, focus on other parts of your face, like your eyes.

Stay Hydrated

Are you drinking enough water? Being dehydrated can cause dry skin, triggering excess oil production and breakouts. However, wearing face masks makes drinking and eating difficult (if not impossible), so you may not be drinking as much as usual.

Studies also show that staying hydrated can affect immune function. Healthy immune systems can protect against certain strains of bacteria that contribute to acne. Additionally, water promotes natural detoxification, which also helps fight acne.

Consider setting reminders or alarms for regular water breaks.

Wash Your Mask Regularly

Wearing clean masks is crucial for keeping maskne at bay. If you wear makeup, moisturizer or sunscreen under your mask, you know how dirty your mask can get.

You should wash and dry your face masks after every use. Wearing dirty, sweaty masks can worsen acne when bacteria meets your skin.

More mask laundering tips:

  • Wash masks in hot water. If your face mask is white, add bleach for an antibacterial boost.
  • Use fragrance-free laundry detergent. Residue from detergents can irritate your skin.
  • Wash masks in a mesh laundry bag to keep them from getting “lost” in a large load and prevent elastics from getting snagged and stretched.
  • Dry masks on high heat or lay flat to dry, ideally in the sun, for an extra measure of bacteria elimination.

Choose Mask Fabrics That Breathe

Experts agree that the best choice for face coverings is 100% cotton fabric. Cotton provides the right balance of breathability and protection and filters better than synthetic fibers like polyester.

Check out Thompson Tee’s reusable, washable cotton face masks, which are made with a premium, soft cotton and fit the CDC cloth mask recommendations.

Rotate Your Masks

It’s helpful to have multiple masks on hand. Keeping a stockpile of masks enables you to rotate them, so you always have a clean mask handy.

The Best Masks for Preventing Maskne

If you’re prone to maskne or have sensitive skin, a breathable, washable cotton face mask is the way to go.

Thompson Tee’s premium face masks for adults and kids are double-layered and made with 100% cotton. They’re also safe to bleach, wash in hot water and dry on high heat without stretching or shrinking. Plus, they’re priced affordably at only $5.99 each, so you can stock up for the whole family! 

thompson tee cotton face masks