September 17, 2021
During the COVID-19 era, face masks have become everyday accessories and it looks like wearing a face mask is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Wearing face masks for long periods of time can cause adverse skin reactions such as acne, contact dermatitis and pressure effects, as well as exacerbating any underlying skin condition.
Face masks can be hard on your skin, but that’s a small price to pay for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Still, you want to keep your skin healthy for the sake of your overall wellbeing and self-esteem.
Why do masks irritate your skin? It’s mostly a matter of friction and moisture. A face mask that fits poorly will slide around when you walk or talk causing skin irritation. Any mask may trap in oil, perspiration, and dirt.
Prolonged use, that can lead to rashes, itchiness, and the new mask acne known as maskne. Yes, "Maskne" is a thing...
You can fight back by learning how to take care of your skin and masks. Try these tips for gentle and effective skin care.
1. Wash correctly. While many experts recommend washing your hands at least 6 to 10 times a day, you usually need to wash your face just once in the morning and at bedtime. Use warm water and move your fingers gently in circles.
Alternatively use a mild skin cleanser (or soap substitute) or micellar water at the beginning and end of the day
2. Moisturise daily. Apply moisturiser immediately after washing to reduce dryness. If your skin is already irritated, look for products with dimethicone, which creates an additional protective layer. Your sunscreen can be your moisturiser!
3. Know your skin type. Figure out whether your skin is oily, dry, or normal, so you can select the appropriate products for you. You may also have combination skin that requires different products for different zones on your face.
4. Simplify your skin care routine. You may need to cut back on any strong chemicals that you usually use on your face. That often includes peels, scrubs, and any product that contains salicylic acid. Where possible opt for plant-based skin care products such as Ecosophist.
5. Skip the makeup. If possible, forget about makeup temporarily. If that makes you uncomfortable, look for non-comedogenic formulas that won’t cause clogged pores.
6. Reconsider facial hair. Trim your beard if it interferes with wearing a mask. Also, remember that beards may become contaminated if you’re sick and may encourage you to touch your face more.
7. See your doctor or dermatologist. Talk to them about your individual questions. That’s especially important if you’re dealing with chronic skin conditions, such as eczema or rosacea.
8. Reduce friction. Apply moisturising lotion at least 30 minutes before mask-wearing to lubricate and reduce friction between the skin and mask
1. Size it up. A face mask that fits well is less likely to irritate your skin and cause skin problems. You want it to be comfortably snug, rather than too tight or too loose.
2. Choose natural fibres. Cloth face masks made from cotton and other natural fibres allow your skin to breathe. Avoid synthetics like nylon and polyester.
3. Check your ears. Are your ears sore? Try rotating between a variety of masks with different kinds of loops and ties. You may also want to wear a headband with buttons, so you can attach your mask to something other than your ears.
4. Stock up. Keep at least 2 masks handy each day. That way you can switch them if they become wet or need to be washed.
5. Remove carefully. Wash or sanitise your hands before taking off your face mask. Touch only the ear loops or ties as it may be contaminated. Use hand sanitiser after taking it off. Launder your dirty fabric mask right away or store it in a disposable or washable bag if necessary.
6. Take regular breaks. Schedule some time out in a safe place if you must wear your mask for much of the day. You might take a 15-minute break every 3 hours.
7. Wash and dry. Clean your cloth mask by hand or in your washing machine with hot water and hypoallergenic detergent. Tumble dry or hang them in the sun. A clean mask also protects you from bacteria and skin oils which can also cause irritation.
Simple washing and moisturising will prevent many skin issues caused by masks. If you need more than DIY treatments, talk with your doctor or see a dermatologist.
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