​Maskne or breakouts caused by wearing a face mask can be easily prevented. Clinical Associate Professor Derrick Aw, Senior Consultant for Dermatology Service at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH), a member of the SingHealth group, shares four easy ways.

4 Ways to prevent maskne (acne from face masks)

1. Change your face mask often

Regardless of how long you wore the mask or how ‘dry’ it seems, research has shown that masks will get damp once you wear them and this creates an ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria.

2. Use facial products that are suitable for your skin

This is especially so if you have sensitive skin. Products with labels such as ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘suitable for sensitive skin’ are generally good enough for regular use.

3. Treat (Maskne) and prevent at the same time

Apply your retinoid medication not just on your acne spots but on your entire face as well to treat and prevent breakouts.

4. Apply the right amount of product onto your face

More isn't necessarily merrier. When applying creams or gels on your face, one fingertip unit (the area between the tip of your finger to the first joint line) is usually good enough for the entire face.

Maskne: The new Acne

Those affected by maskne usually fall into two categories:

  • Those who already have acne and mask wearing aggravated their conditions, and

  • Those who have never had acne but developed it after wearing masks."

What to do if mask wearing aggravates your acne problem

If you already have acne, Clin Assoc Prof Aw recommends some self-reflection measures.

"Some people tend to be less consistent with their treatment medication because their focus is now on something else — wearing a mask — and they forget to apply their creams," he shared.

But if you have been applying your medication diligently and your condition is not getting better, it may be time to make changes to your treatment to suit your skin’s current condition.

Clin Assoc Prof Aw suggests consulting your doctor or dermatologist for advice on how to enhance your treatment.

What to do if mask wearing causes your acne problem

If acne is new to you, Clin Assoc Prof Aw proposes taking a look at the products you are using to see if they may be unfavourable to your current skin condition.

"You may need to switch to using products that are non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic, which are products that have been clinically-proven not to cause breakouts," he explained. 

If you are already using non-comedogenic or non-acnegenic creams and still finding it hard to manage your maskne, Clin Assoc Prof Aw recommends using antiseptics for the short-term to kill the bacteria — which can come in the form of a cleanser, cream or gel; or adding a topical retinoid treatment to your skincare routine for the long-term.

Retinoids are Vitamin A-derived medication that promote faster turnover of your skin cells so new skin cells come out quicker to rejuvenate the skin and ‘push out’ the acne. You can get retinoids either off the shelf, from a pharmacist, or with a doctor’s prescription, and each has its own pros and cons.

"Off-the-shelf ones have the weakest medicating power but are the safest. Prescription retinoids have modest intensity but are most drying and irritating to the skin. Certain prescription retinoids can also be dispensed directly by a pharmacist and these are gentler to the skin yet offer additional anti-inflammatory action," Clin Assoc Prof Aw explained. 

If you are unsure how to proceed, it is always best to get advice from your doctor or dermatologist.

This article was adapted from Skoop magazine (issue 9).

Ref: J22

Check out other articles on skin health:

Eczema Care: Your Complete Guide

Psoriasis: What Triggers It and How to Manage

Must-Know Tips to Manage Dry Skin

Ringworm: How to Treat and Prevent Spreading

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