'Maskne': How To Prevent Acne Breakouts Due To Face Mask

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have to wear a face mask when going out to lessen the chances of getting infected by COVID-19. At some point, you may have noticed some acne breakouts around your face caused by a sweaty, sticky feeling you get after wearing one. That feeling breeds pore-clogging, breakout-causing oil and bacteria. This effect, it turns out, is what is increasingly referred to as "maskne."

Maskne, also known by the scientific term "acne mechanica," is a type of acne that is caused by friction or pressure on skin as a result of wearing heavy clothing or protective gear -- in this case a face mask, either disposable or cloth-based. 

In addition to eczema or dry, itchy skin, wearing a mask throughout the day can cause breakouts in areas where the mask meets your skin, such as your nose, cheeks and chin. The reason for that is because your mask traps sweat, dirt, oil and humidity, which are stuck on your skin all throughout the day. Bacteria formed under your mask can be pushed into the skin through friction caused by the mask being pressed onto your face, causing increased inflammation, which in turn triggers acne.

If you are worried about pimples suddenly appearing after an hour or more of wearing a face mask, Dr. Axe has shared some ways to help you prevent mask-related acne breakouts:

Wash Your Face 

Before putting on a mask and after you take it off, be sure to wash your face to reduce the bacteria that stay on your face and can cause breakouts.

Look for a face cleanser that does not dry out or irritate your skin. Alternatively, you can make a homemade face cleanser that is free of harsh chemicals, such as one that is made with apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut oil and essential oils.

When shopping for a face wash, read the labels carefully and avoid those with aluminum, polyethylene, parabens and other common hazardous ingredients.


Preventing and treating maskne involves removing dead skin cells and creeping bacteria from your face. The best way of doing that is to exfoliate your skin's surface at least once weekly to remove buildup and unclog pores.

Though there are commercial exfoliators available on the market, you can easily make one at home using ingredients in the kitchen.

For that, you will need gritty ones such as sea salt, brown sugar or ground oatmeal mixed with bases like coconut oil. Mix them together before gently massaging the mixture onto your skin. Then rinse and pat dry. 

Use Natural Moisturizer 

When you moisturize your skin before wearing a mask, it not only prevents dryness and itchiness, but also creates a physical barrier that protects your skin from bacteria. 

Coconut oil is great for moisturizing your skin since it contains lauric acid, which has displayed antibacterial effects. All you need to do is simply warm coconut oil in your hands and massage it onto your skin. 

Essential oils added to your moisturizer helps since they have nourishing, antibacterial properties. Lavender is a gentle and healing option that can be combined with any carrier oil and applied to your face.

Easy On The Makeup 

The makeup you use may be the culprit behind the pimples that are popping up under your mask. If you usually apply foundation or bronzer to your face, consider not using it on the days you will wear a mask for an extended period of time.

Wearing a mask for a brief period of time may not pose problems. However, if you end up wearing it longer than expected and have foundation on underneath, it can trap bacteria into your pores, worsening your maskne problems as a result.

Avoid Acne-Promoting Food 

If you are experiencing breakouts, whether or not it is a result of your mask-wearing, it is a good idea to cut common acne-causing foods from your diet. These include sugar, processed food, fried food and conventional dairy and alcoholic drinks.

Instead, be sure to consume a lot of nutrient-rich, colorful and whole foods. Some of the best options include probiotic-rich food, fiber-rich food, organic protein sources (grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild-caught salmon) and vitamin-A-rich food (spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes).

Take Probiotics 

Though probiotics are known for digestion and gut health, they are lesser-known for their role in acne treatment -- specifically in treating cystic acne. Research suggests that both oral and topical probiotics can treat acne and slow signs of aging.

Use A Clean Mask 

Avoid using your mask again and again even if it seems clean because acne-causing bacteria is building up inside it.

If you have a disposable mask, throw it away and grab a new one for a new day. If you have a cloth-based mask, wash it after every use or get at most two or three so you can switch it up.

Face mask Social distancing measures in many countries require residents to wear face masks or any coverings when going out to help reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. Pixabay

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