Mask-related Acne Tips from a Dermatologist

BIDMC Contributor

MARCH 19, 2021

Young Woman with Face MaskWith the CDC’s recommendation to wear cloth face coverings in public to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, people may find themselves facing new or increased skin complaints.

BIDMC dermatologist Rachel Reynolds, MD, shares what concerns she is hearing most often from patients, and steps you can take to soothe your skin.

What are some of the most common skincare challenges that come with wearing masks and face coverings?

Many patients have experienced skincare challenges from wearing a face covering, including increased acne, rosacea or redness, contact dermatitis, or an itchy, red rash where the mask makes contact, and pressure sores. On warmer days, increased perspiration acne and rashes can worsen from wearing a mask.

What causes mask-related acne?

Wearing masks regularly can sometimes increase sweating, and with that comes the risk of your skin becoming more oily, which can clog pores and cause blemishes.

Are there certain types of fabrics that are better for acne-prone skin?

One option is using cotton fabrics for masks, which are more breathable and less likely to cause skin irritation. However, people with compromised immune systems should stick with surgical or other more medical grade masks where the level of protection may be higher.

What’s the best way to wash reusable masks?

Some laundry soaps may cause skin irritation. When cleaning a reusable mask, it is important to use fragrance-free or hypoallergenic laundry detergent and to avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

How often should we switch out our masks to prevent breakouts?

While there is not a set amount of time known for changing out your mask to prevent mask-related acne, it has been proven that washing your face twice a day can help keep your skin healthy and clear.

Is it OK to wear makeup with a mask?

Avoiding makeup while wearing a mask may help improve acne.

What can I do to prevent breakouts while wearing a mask?

Washing your face morning and night with a mild over-the-counter acne cleanser that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help prevent breakouts. If that isn’t working, a next step could be to try over-the-counter adapalene gel once a day, which helps to treat mild acne, especially black heads and white heads. If you have questions about what products are best for you, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist.

Telehealth appointments are available for BIDMC Dermatology. Learn more about what to expect at a telehealth dermatology visit and make an appointment.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
View All Articles