Maskne and How to Treat it

Maia Glazer, H&W Page Director

It goes without saying that many new things have resulted from the pandemic: health regulations, learning structures, how to go about shopping for groceries, etc. Along with those listed, a new portmanteau has been coined: maskne. Maskne is the combination of the words “acne” and “mask”, similar to the combination of “acne” and “back” to form “bacne”. And while maskne is by far not the most important thing to come from the pandemic, it is still notable. 

Many people of all ages have reported a development of acne from wearing a mask for extended periods of time. “We’re seeing lots of flares of acne, especially a type called perioral dermatitis, which tends to happen typically around the mouth and in the areas around the nose,” said Dr. Seemal Desai, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center, in a recent CNN article. Desai further explains how the area under one’s mask creates a moisture-rich environment —a breeding ground for bacteria and organisms. 

For MHS students who have chosen the hybrid learning model, mask-wear is crucial. As those students and faculty are in the building for hours and must always wear a mask, it is important to learn how to properly take care of maskne-prone skin. One senior, when asked how she has learned to combat maskne, stated “I always carry small portable face wipes and oil absorbing sheets in my pencil case. Then, whenever I can take my mask off, I can freshen and de-oil my face.” She claims that this has been extremely important in preventing major outbreaks, especially for oily skin types.

It is also helpful to consider the type of mask one wears. Reusable cotton masks are recommended and should be washed in between wears. Another physician, Dr. Carrie Kovarik, suggests in a New York Times article by Courtney Rubin to use fewer skin products or to use those that activate at night. This is because wearing a mask often intensifies products, causing irritation. It is also recommended to incorporate toners and moisturizers into one’s skincare routine. However, it is important to note that everyone’s skin is different and patience is key to finding what works best for your skin. 

Considering all the global changes in light of COVID-19, maskne is just another thing that calls for adjustments in one’s daily routine.