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How to Stop Irritation From Wearing Face Masks/PPE

We can all agree that the fast and drastic change of our world is something that can be a bit difficult to get used to. Yet, slowly but surely, we are adapting to our new normal and that includes having to wear face masks. If we are doing our part as responsible citizens, then we are wearing our masks anytime we step outside, interact with other people, or show signs and symptoms of coronavirus. With that responsibility comes the risk of dealing with skin irritations like “maskne”, heat rash, and rosacea. If you’re experiencing these uncomfortable reactions, we’ll give a few tips and tricks to minimize the irritation and prevent it all together.


“Maskne” is the term used to describe an outbreak of acne due to wearing a facemask or PPE. While facemasks are absolutely necessary to protect ourselves, our families, and fellow citizens from passing on or contracting coronavirus, they also are very good at trapping dirt, sweat, and oil into our pores. This is the perfect recipe for acne. Pores clogged with bacteria and impurities causes inflammation and creates a breakout of pimples.

Heat Rash

Beyond having acne caused by our masks, we can also experience mild heat rash. We usually think of heat rash as a breakout of hives thanks to hot weather or excessive sweating. Well, believe it or not, just us breathing behind the masks creates the perfect biological storm that gives way to heat rash. The carbon dioxide that we exhale gets trapped in the mask and covers our skin. This not only causes humidity, but it also increases the temperature inside the mask. The heat, humidity, and high temperatures creates a breeding ground for heat rash.


For those with sensitive skin, or skin that is prone to irritation, rosacea is a very real risk. The rubbing of the mask can irritate the skin and cause chaffing, dryness, redness, and scaliness. Rosacea may appear as tiny red bumps, enlarged blood vessels causing redness, and of course dry and chafed skin.

Stopping These Irritations

There are multiple things you can do to both prevent and treat these issues.

Use an emollient. Emollients are ointments designed to create a film of moisturizer and hydration for the face. This is perfect for mask-wearing as it will act as a barrier between your skin and the fabric of the mask.

Moisturize often. Though you’re using an emollient, you can also use an oil-free moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out and chaffing. This is great if you’re experiencing rosacea.

Wash your mask often. The dirt and oil that gets trapped in our pores will undoubtedly also be trapped within our masks. So be sure to wash your mask often or wear a new one when necessary.

Keep your face clean. The dirt, oil, and sweat behind our masks can only cause a problem if we leave it on our faces. To avoid buildup, wash and exfoliate your face twice a day. Be sure to use hot water to open your pores and flush out all of the impurities. When you are finished, wash your face in cold water to close the pores and prevent bacteria from entering.

Wearing a mask may be mandatory but it doesn’t have to be a pain. Just follow this advice and you can keep your skin clean and healthy. For up to date information on COVID-19 and how to stay safe, visit the WHO official website.

For more information on these and other skin conditions, our experts at The Dermatology Group are here to offer you advice, resources, and any treatment options you may need. Give us a call today!

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