Acne from masks or maskne


Maskne is the acne in 2020. This year everything is different, including our perception of the causes of acne has changed. In essence, the maskne belongs to the so-called mechanical acne. Prolonged wearing of a mask leads to clogging of the follicles by two mechanisms. The first is the mechanical stress from the pressure, friction and occlusion of the mask, the second is dysbiosis in the microbiome (due to changes in heat, moisture, pH). In other words, the microclimate in which our dear skin is located is macro-harmful to it. And since wearing masks is now mandatory, it means we have to change our routine approach, forgetting about some key ingredients in cosmetics.

The clinical criteria for diagnosing a maskne are: onset of the disease 6 weeks after the start of mask wearing or worsening of pre-existing acne MAINLY in the area overlapping the mask. The skin of the chin and lower jaw is most affected with the appearance of comedones, papules and pustules.

How to avoid the appearance of maskne?

First of all, it is very important to strictly separate the products we will use in the morning and in the evening. Putting active ingredients (retinol, AHA *, BHA *) under the mask would increase their permeability, respectively, and their unwanted side effects will increase. That is why these cosmetics remain in the evening care. Both vitamin A derivatives and alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids can cause irritation, burning, and even injury from improper use. In fact, if you haven't used these products before, now is not the time to try them. If your skin already knows them, just put them on in the evening or in the evening to keep acne under control.

The face wash should be with a neutral product without aggressive anti-acne ingredients that would further disrupt the skin barrier. The risk comes from the fact that in such dysbiosis in combination with rubbing the mask, we can get perioral dermatitis. In addition, wash with one type of product, the so-called "double cleansing" method is not for everyone. Excessive drying signals the glands to produce more sebum and the cycle becomes vicious. Specialists from the American Academy of Dermatology recommend the use of benzoyl peroxide 2% or 5% in the evening only on papules and cysts, after which hydration can be applied.

Mornings can also start with hydration, which of course must be consistent with the fact that the skin is acne prone. If you think you need to wash with gel or micellar water in the morning, do it before the cream. But be careful not to dry out again, get to know your skin and sebum in the context of wearing a mask. Hyaluronic serums and creams have a good effect and texture, which do not further clog the follicles. The moisturizer will also create a film that will separate the skin from the mask. And speaking of this attribute, stick to ones that protect you well and at the same time you can wash, disinfect, sterilize or just change often.


I've stopped using foundation for a few weeks now. Since I have a bangs and only my eyes are visible from my face - there is a complete program - eyeliner, mascara;). The other thing I do is hardware facial cleansing once a month just to remove the "plugs" from the hair and fat follicles. Since my profession requires me to wear a mask all day, when it comes to facial cosmetics, I stick to the rule "the less, the better".

* AHA - alphahydroxy acid, BHA - betahydroxy acid

Teo WL. Diagnostic and Management Considerations for ‘Maskne’ in the Era of COVID-19 J Am Acad Dermatol. 2020;S0190-9622(20)32664-5. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2020.09.063

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