2020 marks the year of the mask for mainstream Australia (and the world). It started back in summer as people tried to protect themselves from smoke fumes and ash. Soon after the fires ended the pandemic hit and once again, we needed our masks. Fast forward to August and in the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19, masks are now being mandated in some parts of Australia, whilst strongly recommended as a precautionary measure in others. In fact, people are now wearing masks around the world.
There is no doubt that when worn correctly, the right type of mask can help slow the spread of COVID-19. When fitted correctly, face masks can create a seal, so no air comes in, but the issue is the area under the mask becomes hot and humid. Such conditions are not ideal for people suffering skin problems.
Whilst most of the population find wearing a mask tolerable, it can present several challenges for those with sensitive skin.
Dermatologists are seeing a sharp rise in the number of people presenting with mask-related skin conditions. This ranges from mild irritation through to ‘Maskne’:
When wearing a mask on a regular basis, the friction from the mask combined with sweat, humidity and our natural oils can cause irritation in the area under the mask. If this is not carefully managed it can result in dry, itchy skin or more serious conditions such as contact dermatitis, rashes and raw skin.
Perioral Dermatitis (PD)
This condition is a skin rash or irritation (dermatitis) that appears around (peri) the mouth (oral) and can spread around the nose and in rare cases, the eyes. There are several causes including over using steroids, diet and lifestyle and irritation.
Irritation can be caused by wearing a mask that rubs on your skin and traps in moisture. These conditions can trigger PD. If a mask is the culprit, the rash generally appears in the shape of the face mask.
This non-medical term is given to acne that is triggered by mask-related factors: heat, friction and obstruction. For people that are acne prone or with sensitive skin, wearing a mask can lead to an overgrowth of the yeast, bacteria and other flora. This overgrowth can be caused by the warm and moist environment trapped under the mask. Furthermore, the continuous rubbing of the mask against our face can result in micro-tears that allow bacteria and dirt to clog up our pores.
Tips on Wearing a mask and Managing Good Skin Health
If you choose this style of mask versus a disposable mask, many experts recommend a mask made from tightly woven soft cotton fabric. Whilst there are many pros to this material, the risk associated with fabric masks is they may absorb natural oils causing dryness and irritation. If this happens to you, try wearing a silk mask under the fabric mask.
For people washing and re-wearing their mask, residue from detergent can also lead to clogged pores and irritation. Therefore, it is important to wash your mask with mild detergent and make sure it is thoroughly rinsed and dried.
Unfortunately, wearing fabric masks only “will not be useful” to prevent one from contracting the COVID-19 virus from others. They may offer a false sense of security that you are protected. They will not be able to protect you against getting infection from others or transferring infection to others. Read more here.
Adjust Your Skin Care Routine
To prevent mask-related irritation and breakouts, it is crucial to have a nurturing skin care routine.
Establish a skin care routine that you can stick to every day:
- Thoroughly wash your hands first
- Use a gentle cleanser & moisturiser.
The AMPERNA® Soothing Duo has anti-inflammatory anti-bacterial ingredients and contain a vital probiotic complex. They can help protect your skin by applying them prior to wearing your mask:
Lightweight Soothing+ Emulsion is cationic so it will absorb deeply into your skin rather than leaving an oily or shiny film.
Probiotic+ DS Soothing Serum is deeply restorative and helps soothe irritated skin and calm redness. The copper and zinc gluconates help to limit the spread of harmful bacteria and replenish the skin barrier.
- Help skin turnover with suitable “active” products if required
- Protect your skin from the sun
If you start suffering irritation or flareups you may want to readjust your beauty and cleansing routine immediately and temporarily just use water. Read more here.
For people who cannot wear a surgical or cloth mask another option is wearing a face shield. These are available in different designs and lengths and can offer protection similar to being protected by a screen which have been erected at the counters of many convenience stores and supermarkets
How AMPERNA® can Help
Kiri Yanchenko, founder of AMPERNA® struggled with several skin conditions such as acne and perioral dermatitis. She is an advocate of wearing a mask and is helping her clients to manage their skin health via her Holistic Skin Coaching Service. Her Telehealth service allows people to discuss their skin concerns and develop a tailored plan to work towards healthy glowing skin. Get in touch with Kiri today.