Red bumps or rash from wearing a mask? Here are some tips to prevent acne

Wearing a mask all day can come with some annoying side-affects, and doctors say they are even causing acne for some people. 

Dr. Donna Jezdic said she's had more calls than ever due to mask-acne

A Windsor doctor says she never expected to treat so many for acne caused by mask-wearing. But there are ways to protect your skin from rash or breakouts. (Shutterstock)

Wearing a mask all day can come with some annoying side-affects, and doctors say they are even causing acne for some people. 

Dr. Donna Jezdic, who practises cosmetic dermatology at two clinics in Windsor, says since the pandemic started, more people have been coming to her with pimples caused by mask use.

"Many people want consultations — especially those who are required to wear a mask all day," Jezdic said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning. "The incidence is much higher than I ever thought and it's certainly going up in the general public."

Jezdic said while she's seeing teenagers prone to acne, many of her clients are even in their 60s as the type of irritation caused by masks can affect anyone. 

Rash, peeling skin, and bumps on the face can all be caused by the friction created from the fabric in a mask. The moisture from our breath or sweat can also cause a breeding ground for bacteria and skin mites, said Jezdic. 

"I don't trivialize it because it affects self esteem. For most people one or two pimples is nothing but for others it causes anxiety," she said.

"I usually ask people to do preventative tips at home and if they're still having problems developing redness, pus or wounds, then they should come in  to be treated professionally."

For those required to wear a mask all day, Jezdic recommends these tips:

  • Wash your face with a gentle cleanser.
  • If you have sensitive skin, use products free of fragrance or oil.
  • For those with acne-prone skin, use products with salicylic acid. 
  • Apply moisturizer everyday — a light one or serum for oily skin or a hypoallergenic one for those with sensitive skin.
  • Wear a protective barrier of zinc or titanium applied to face before you put a mask on.
  • Try not to wear make up, or wear light, mineral-based products if you must.
  • Start with a clean mask everyday, and change it everyday or wash it if it is reusable. 
  • The mask should fit your face properly and have two layers, but opt for cotton or soft fabrics that won't irritate the skin.

Pandemic stress can also inflame acne because many people pick at their skin, said Jezdic. 

"Try preventative tips and again call a professional if you can't control it on your own," she said. 

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