Breaking Down Mask Irritation

Over the past year, we have had to adapt to living life during a pandemic. We've come to know another type of face mask... As a result, you may have heard about or personally experienced skin reactions in response to wearing masks - coined maskne and maskitis. Our favorite skincare source and founder of SLMD Skincare, Dr. Sandra Lee AKA Dr. Pimple Popper, is here to help you distinguish the difference between the two, and figure out how to tame both moving forward!

What is maskne?

  • Acne breakouts under your mask (what is technically known as acne mechanica: a breakout triggered when heavy clothing or protective gear ie. masks or athletic helmets are pressed/rub against the skin.) 

Who is more prone to maskne?

  • Those that have oily skin, are already acne-prone, and/or are wearing a solid amount of makeup are more likely to experience maskne.

“Wearing a mask for a long period of time promotes occlusion - clogging of the pores with dirt and bacteria and dead skin cells and oil. Increased humidity under a mask due to breathing, speaking into the enclosed space, wearing makeup, having oilier skin etc. also promote acne to occur in that area,” says Dr. Sandra Lee.

Dr. Sandra Lee’s Pro-Tips:

  • Incorporate alpha/beta-hydroxy acids into your routine: Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, and Lactic Acid are some of Dr. Sandra Lee’s favorites - so much so, that she incorporated them into her own SLMD Skincare products. 
    • Product Recommendations
    • Resurfacing Acne Swipes: Pre-soaked pads loaded with exfoliating acids - great for keeping in the car on the go, so you can swipe your skin before and after wearing a mask to keep your pores clear. 
    • Salicylic Acid Body Spray: Originally created to be used on the body, this spray has quickly become Dr. Lee’s top maskne hack that has gone viral on Tik Tok and helped all of those that have tried it. Give your mask and face a few spritzes, fan to dry, and decrease your chances of experiencing impurities that cause maskne. 
    • Use products formulated with anti-bacterial agents: Ingredients like Benzoyl Peroxide and Sulfur, especially good for those that find Benzoyl Peroxide to be too drying and irritating are staples that should be in everyone’s acne-fighting arsenal. They are able to stop the growth of acne causing bacteria, responsible for those red, inflamed pimples and under the skin blemishes. 
      • Product Recommendations
        • BP Lotion: Included in the OG SLMD Acne System, this lotion is formulated with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide to effectively help you take control of stubborn inflammatory acne breakouts. 
        • Sulfur Lotion: Can be tried on its own or as a part of the Sensitive Skin Acne System. This lotion can be applied daily before your moisturizer to reduce oil-production and slow the growth of acne-causing bacteria. 

    What is maskitis?

    • Rashes people might develop because they might be allergic to the mask itself or irritated from it's constantly rubbing on their skin.

    Who is more prone to maskitis?

    • People that more regularly experience dermatitis and eczema are more likely to experience maskitis. 

    Dr. Sandra Lee’s Pro-Tips:

    • Keep your hands off: Complications arise when people scratch their rashes. If you scratch your rash, you may experience immediate relief but know you are also introducing more bacteria from your nails and fingers into the area, which may cause an infection and will ultimately make the situation worse.
    • Incorporate nourishing ingredients into your skincare routine: Products with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties like Hydrocortisone, Niacinamide, Colloidal Oatmeal (known for its anti-inflammatory / antioxidant properties) ceramides (strengthen the skin’s barrier), and Vitamin E
      • Product Recommendations
        • Super Cortisone+: This cream made with 1% Hydrocortisone can be used as a spot treatment for those extremely irritated/broken out patches of your skin. 
        • Body Seal: Fragrance free, ultra-repairing cream formulated with colloidal oatmeal and ceramides to strengthen the barrier of the skin, and provide immediate relief and hydration to those with eczema-prone/dry skin. 

    We hope this helps your understanding of these two new conditions we've all had to learn to deal with over the last year. Hopefully, with this new knowledge of these conditions, ingredients and products to treat them, we can take maskne and maskitis off of your list of things to stress about as we start getting back to normal life!


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