Trending Dermatologist – Dr. Sandy Skotnicki Talks About Skincare Routines for Mask-Related Acne (Maskne)

Dr. Sandy Skotnicki received her Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and immunology from the University of Toronto then went on to complete her medical degree, graduating with the highest honors. She is the founding director of the Bay Dermatology Centre and is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto in the Divisions of Dermatology and Occupational and Environmental Health. She also serves as a Diplomat of the American Board of Dermatology. 

The year 2020 has been defined by a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus has caused scientists around the globe to seek new treatments and to push for a vaccine in the hopes that the world can return more or less to normal in the coming new year. On top of the chaos brought on by the virus itself, the global community has been faced with a number of unexpected challenges including one that has been given its own trendy hashtag: maskne.

Mask-related acne has always been a concern for medical professionals but since face masks have become the standard to slow the spread of the virus, the general public has come to experience it as well. Read on to learn what dermatologist Sandy Skotnicki, MD and other professionals have to say about maskne and how to get it under control with a daily skincare routine.

What is Mask-Related Acne?

Acne is one of the most common skin conditions in the United States and it takes many forms. You may have experienced hormonal acne during your teenage years and hoped the battle was won when you entered adulthood. Unfortunately, the current pandemic has led to a resurgence in a specific form of acne known as acne mechanica.

In most cases, acne develops when the hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. These materials combine with bacteria on the surface of the skin to form a plug which can become infected and develop into an acne lesion. This situation can develop under normal circumstances but wearing a mask for prolonged periods of time can make things worse. Throw in some friction and accumulated moisture on the skin and you have a recipe for acne mechanica. Mask-related acne (dubbed “maskne on social media”) is simply acne that tends to develop on areas of skin typically covered by a mask.

Fortunately, you can get the problem under control with a simple daily skincare routine.

Daily Skincare Tips for Controlling Maskne

Caring for your skin doesn’t have to be a chore. The best skincare routine may be as simple as daily cleansing, toning, and moisturizing. If you’re experiencing skin concerns like acne, however, you may need to add spot treatments or acne cream to get things under control.

Include these steps in your daily routine for maskne:

  1. Cleanse your skin twice daily (AM and PM) with a gentle cleanser appropriate for your skin type.
  2. While your skin is still damp, apply moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid to boost hydration and fortify the skin’s natural moisture barrier.
  3. Consider applying a barrier cream before donning your mask as a protective layer between the mask and your skin (keep in mind these creams may aggravate acne in acne-prone skin types).
  4. Calm irritated skin around the nose and mouth with products that contain ketoconazole or selenium sulfide (common ingredients in dandruff shampoo).
  5. Treat moderate to severe acne breakouts with retinoids like tretinoin or try over-the-counter spot treatments for mild breakouts and occasional blemishes.

Above all else, keep your skin and your mask clean. If you wear reusable cloth face masks, it’s important to wash them frequently to avoid making your skin concerns worse. Read on to learn how.

Simple Tips for Keeping Your Mask Clean

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it plays an important role in protecting you from things that could harm you. Give your skin the support it needs to do its job by keeping it clean and healthy. If you wear a face mask on a daily basis, that means keeping your mask clean too.

Here are a few simple tips for keeping your mask clean:

  • Keep a few extra masks around so you always have a clean one on hand.
  • If you are wearing a mask all day, consider changing them when they get moist, as moisture increased friction and potential acne
  • Wash cloth face masks using fragrance-free detergent and hang them up to air dry.
  • Make sure your mask is completely dry before putting it on.
  • Give your skin a break from the mask when you’re in a safe environment.

No one knows when the pandemic is going to end, so we must all do our parts to keep each other safe. Wearing a mask may not be the most comfortable choice, but it is a simple thing you can do to protect yourself and others. Follow the tips above to keep your skin healthy and keep following professional medical advice to keep yourself and your family healthy as well.