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Medical Mythbuster: Can Wearing a Mask Cause Acne?

By Dr. Sarita Nori
Division of Dermatology

Unfortunately, this is true. Many people call it “maskne,” for mask-related acne. Dermatologists know that blocking of the skin surface can cause acne (e.g., sports helmets). Since the general public is now routinely wearing masks due to Covid-19, this issue has gotten a lot more attention.

Wearing a mask around your face creates a warm, humid environment that is an ideal setting for normal skin bacteria and yeast to overgrow. Friction and constant contact from the mask can also contribute to skin problems. The result is that mask wearers can suffer from acne flare-ups as well as perioral dermatitis (small bumps and pustules around the nose and mouth). If you are having skin problems because of wearing a mask, you may want to try wearing one created out of a different material. A softer fabric may be easier on your skin and help prevent breakouts. Most importantly, avoid any heavy moisturizer or makeup when you are going to wear a mask for prolonged periods – the thicker the product, the more it will block the pores due to the mask.

Changing your mask frequently can also help reduce irritation. It’s also very important to keep your mask clean. Wash your mask using a hypoallergenic detergent and rinse it twice to remove any possible irritants. Washing your mask properly helps in infection control and should reduce breakouts. You can learn more about masks and how to clean them at this CDC web page.

Although wearing a mask isn’t always easy, it’s something we have to deal with right now. With good hygienic practices and a little prevention, wearing your mask does not have to lead to potential skin problems.

Medical Mythbuster: Can Wearing a Mask Cause Acne?

About Sarita Nori, MD

Dr. Sarita Nori was drawn to dermatology because of the intersection of science and medicine that is at the heart of dermatology. She feels this is what really allows her to help her patients. “There is a lot of problem-solving in dermatology and I like that,” she explains. “It’s also a profession where you can help people quickly and really make a difference in their lives.”

Some of the typical skin problems that Dr. Nori...

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