OPINION: How to help with “maskne”


In fall 2020, signs had been placed around campus remind students how to be safe and stay healthy while on campus by wearing masks and social distancing from other students. The upcoming fall semester, students will not be told to wear masks or social distance.

Vidhi Parekh, Commentary Writer

To reflect on this past semester, I must say it went by pretty fast, but a lot of things stood out to me, especially “maskne.” It means exactly what it sounds like: acne from wearing masks.

Why does it happen? It’s the result of moisture and sweat combined with friction of the mask on the skin.

Breathing and talking with a mask on creates a warm, moist environment that allows bacteria to thrive. Combine that with a runny nose, and things can get pretty messy. 

These bacterial imbalances are what promote acne.

If you have been dealing with this, you are not alone. In order to combat this common problem, I am going to share some tips with you from personal experience and research.

Wear a clean mask

This is something that I have found to be a necessity, yet many of my peers fail to do this. 

For cloth masks, soak them in soap and water or simply throw them in the washer with your clothes. 

Make sure to wash your mask daily.

However, make sure to use a fragrance-free laundry detergent because fragrances can cause irritation to the skin. Also, avoid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

If you utilize disposable masks, I recommend changing them out each day.

Skip the makeup

With the recent distribution of N-95 masks, it is important to note that makeup stains can limit the ability to reuse it.

Along with staining your mask, makeup can also clog your pores. 

However, if there is something important coming up and makeup is a must, look for products labeled non-comedogenic. This means it won’t clog your pores.

Use a moisturizer 

This helps reduce the friction between the skin and the mask. However, there are many moisturizers on the market, so it is important to choose the one best suited for your skin condition. 

For oily skin, it is recommended to use a gel moisturizer. Otherwise, lotion is great. Try to stray away from products containing fragrances. 

Aloe vera is a natural moisturizer, but avoid it if you are allergic to it. 

Also, keep in mind that wearing a mask causes your skin to become slightly sensitive, so a general rule of thumb to follow is to avoid harsh products like retinoids and chemical peelers.

In place of that, you can wear a layer of sunscreen that contains minerals like zinc or titanium. This provides a win-win situation as both friction and sun-damage are reduced. 

Change the mask

If your facial irritation is not subsiding, try to change the type of mask you are using. Dermatologists recommend using a mask made of cotton

Switching the material to cotton may be the way to go as it is lightweight and gentle on the skin.

If you are going to change the mask, you may also want to consider other features because apart from the facial irritation, masks can also cause pain around the ears. 

Something that you can do is buy a mask that has straps going behind the head rather than the ears. This will lift the tension off of your ears.

Overall, wearing masks can be painful, but the pain can be reduced through these simple precautions.

Hopefully, trying out one of these tips as an experiment will help make your experience with masks a little more comfortable.

Commentary writer Vidhi Parekh can be reached at [email protected]