12.3 min read3062 words

How to prevent maskne | an acne caused by wearing a face mask


Mahlagha Homayouni


March 18, 2021


What is Maskne?

In last year the breakout of covid-19 made several changes in our lifestyle, from lockdowns to social distancing and wearing mask in public places. Maskne, as its name suggests, is a new term to refer to acne caused by wearing face masks. All of us experience anxiety and stress of getting coronavirus at this age, and it would be a painful feeling to see acne only because you tried to protect yourself (and others in the first place) with wearing a face mask. So, if you want to avoid this painful experience, you should know how to prevent maskne, which is explained in this article.

Prevent Maskne

Maskne is a new skin issue that many people are struggling with, especially those who work in public places where they should wear a facial mask for long hours everyday. Experts say that this problem could challenge all of us, even those who never experienced acne in their life. However, understanding its causes and becoming familiar with the tips that could be used to prevent this problem will help you to don’t allow this additional source of stress and anxiety bother you. In the following, we will explain everything that you need to know about maskne and how you can avoid it.


skin assessment

What Causes Maskne?

Maskne is a result of clogged pores in most of the time. Everybody has oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells in the skin. When one wears mask, these substances can appear more and block one pores. Mask also increases humidity due to the breathing and sweating, and it also increases the risk of acne breakout.

Friction could be another possible cause for maskne. It could happen because of rubing the material of a mask against the skin, which leads to irritation and chafing. It is also possible that one being sensitive or allergic to the material of facial mask. You might use a mask that is pretreated with chemicals that might not be suitable for your skin and that could lead to maskne. The other similar cause could be using a mask that is washed in a scented detergent that might cause irritation.

The most susceptible areas of maskne are the areas where the mask is fitted tightly against the skin, like over the bridge of the nose and across the cheeks. However, it seems that the mask regulation would be with us for the foreseeable future, which means we sould learn the ways to prevent maskne and this type of bothering breakouts.

Prevent Maskne

Chapter 1

Difference between maskne types

Maskne is an umbrella term for several skin issues that could be caused by wearing a face mask. Some of the most common skin problems that fall under this category include:

  • Acne: a common skin problem that gave its name to maskne. It happens when your skin pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and dirt. It might lead to pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads.
  • Rosacea: wearing a mask could lead to flare-ups when one have rosacea. It might lead to pimples and redness.
  • Contact dermatitis: contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the material used in the mask. It can lead to red rash along with irritation and blisters.
  • Folliculitis: this problem is the infection of hair follicles, which could lead to bumps that look like acne breakout. This problem also causes itchiness and pain.

In the following, we will take a close look at these problems before showing you how to prevent maskne.


When oil and dead skin cells clogg the hair follicles on the skin, the condition is called acne. It will lead to whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. This problem is most common among teenagers, but people in all ages can experience it. Several types of effective acne treatments are available, but acne could be persistent.

In severe issues, acne can cause scars on the skin and lead to emotional distress. These problems would occur when the acne is in developed condition. So, if you want to avoid experiencing these problems, you should start treatment as soon as possible.


Rosacea is a common skin problem that causes redness and visible blood vessels in the face. It might also cause red, small, and pus-filled bumps. These problems can bother the patient for weeks to months and then leave for a while. In many cases, it can be mistaken for acne and other common skin problems.

Rosacea is a problem that can effect everyone. However, it is most common in middle-aged women who have light skin. Rosacea does not have a cure, but treatment can control and reduce its signs and symptoms.

Prevent Maskne

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis occurs when the surface of skin becomes red, and itchy rash appears because of direct contact with a substance and an allergic reaction to it. This rash is not life-threatening or contagious, but could be very uncomfortable. Many substances can produce such reactions, including cosmetics, soaps, fragrances, jewelry, and plants.

To prevent maskne caused by contact dermatitis, it is important to avoid using fragrance detergents when you want to wash your cloth face mask. You should also avoid using fabrics that you might react allergic to them to avoid this problem.


Folliculitis is another common skin problem in which hair follicles become inflamed. It is often caused by a fungal or bacterial infection. At first it looks like small red bumbs and white-headed pimples around hair follicles. But this infection can spread and become crusty sores that could not be healed.

Like other common skin problems, it is not life-threatening, but being itchy, sore, and embrassing. In its developed versions, it can cause permanent hair loss and scarring. This problem could easily managed with self-care measures in few days. So, if you suspect that you are suffering this problem, just try to find its treatment.

skin assessment

Chapter 2

How to prevent maskne

How to prevent maskne

As you saw above, maskne could breakout for a variety of causes and reasons. Fortunately, there are also ways to treat this issue easily, and with a few efforts you can prevent acne for wearing facial mask. In the following, we will show tips to prevent maskne.

Choose the right mask

To prevent maskne, you should avoid wearing a mask that could make your skin irritated, such as synthetic masks. To make sure that your skin will not react badly to the mask, consider about the following conditions when you wear a face mask:

  • Mask should be fit on your face, but it should be not too tight
  • Wear a mask that contains two or more layers of fabric
  • Wear a mask that is made of natural, soft fabric (cotton, for example)

Some materials, especially synthetic fabrics, such as rayon or nylon can irritate the skin of your face. As you might know, the most effective types of masks are N95 and surgical masks, but these mask might be reserved for healthcare workers. For this reason, experts recommend using cloth masks for public use.

Prevent Maskne

But it is important to choose the right material as some materials might trigger irritation. According to a study the best material to make homemade masks is 100% cotton. Cotton is gentle on the skin and provides a right balance between breathability and protection as well. Other materials such as scarves and bandanas are not so much effective, and heavier fabrics like denim and canvas are too irritating to the skin.

Wash fabric masks regularly

You should never reuse a cloth mask without washing it first. For this reason, you should keep a rotation of clean masks. You should have at least three to five masks so you can always find a clean mask when other masks are cleaned. These masks easily could be washed. However, it is recommended to use unscented hypoallergic laundry detergent and hot water for washing cloth masks. Before use, let the mask become completely dry.

Bacteria and dirt will build up over time on a mask, so when you put a dirty facial mask back on your face, it would be a resource of irritation of your skin. You should also avoid touching a used facial mask with your hands. With having several fabric masks, you can always find a clean mask that protects you from any infection.

Wash masks with fragrance-free laundry detergent

Fragrances used in washing detergents could be irritating on the skin, and might potentially lead to irritation. So if you don’t want to trigger irritation on your skin, it is important to wash your masks with fragrance-free laundry detergent.

Washing your masks with fragrance detergents can lead to adverse effect and become a cause of maskne. To avoid this problem, find detergents that are completely fragrance-free to wash your masks.

Cleanse your face skin twice daily

You should always wash your face before and after wearing a facial mask, because dirt, oil, sweat, and bacteria build up on your skin underneath your mask. Cleansers are skin care products that are designed to cleanse your face. So if you don’t use a cleansing routine in your skin care routine, it would be useful if you don’t want to experience acne breakout.

You can use a gentle cleanser if your skin is irritated already. And if your skin is prone to acne, try a breakout-busting salicylic acid cleanser which keeps your pores clear of build-ups. However, you might think using cleanser before and after wearing a facial mask, which is not recommended because it might lead to your skin dryness, which results in irritation or redness. It is recommended to keep the regular morning/night routine to avoid these conditons.

you can also read The Beginner’s Guide to Facial Masks

skin assessment

Apply a topical antibiotic cream

Bacteria build up under a facial mask would not be surprising, and that could result in acne. To prevent maskne caused by bacteria, you should apply a topical antibiotic cream or gel on your skin before putting on your face mask. You can find several products with various degrees of antibiotic to protect your face from bacteria buld up.

Keep your skin hydrated

Moisturizer is another skin care routine that could be effective to prevent maskne. You should use moisturizer after cleansing your face twice a day. Several types of moisturizers are available that you can choose from according your skin type. However, experts recommend to use a lightweight moisturizer ideally with anti-acne ingredients like nano-sulfur and retinol on your face skin. For areas like the bridge of the nose and cheeks that could be more irritated, you should use a thicker emollient or moisturizer.

You should always keep your skin hydrated. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep a moisturizer all day long and recharge it between mask-wearing sessions. Dryness of the skin would result in irritation, so applying a moisturizer will protect you from maskne, especially if your skin tends to be dry. Moisturizer might also act as a barrier between skin and the mask, and will protect your skin from irritation.

Prevent Maskne

To prevent maskne, avoid makeup

It is somehow a painful advice for many of us to avoid makeup, but if you don’t want maskne breakout, you should take it serious. Makeup can clog pores on your skin and under a mask, these clogged pores lead to maskne. So if you take your mask on and off throughout the day and want a coverage for your face skin, you can use a tinted moisturizer or BB cream.

Makeup also leaves residue on your mask so you can not preserve your mask for a long time comparing those who don’t put makeup. When you wear a mask, upper parts of your face including your eyes are the only part that you show to other. So you can focus on this part of your face with light makeup to be acceptable and prevent maskne at the same time.

Take a breathe

Experts recommend to people who wear mask throughout the day to remove their masks for 15 minutes every 4 hours. This helps your skin to have a break. However, you should only do this where you can practice physical distancing with people who are not living in your household. You should also sanitize your hands carefully before removing your mask.

So if you work in a place that you should always wear a mask, find a way to have a 15 minutes break every 4 hours. This not only helps your skin to have a breath, but also airing out your mask for further use. This practice helps you to prevent maskne, so you should make sure don’t forget it and let your skin be refreshed.

Prevent Maskne

Throw away disposable masks after each use

Disposable masks are good protections when you go at public places and could not practice physical distancing. However, using these masks more than once could be dangerous. To prevent maskne you should simply toss disposable masks after each use.

If you are trying to use this type of face mask for your protection, it is recommended to keep several masks around you in case you need a fresh mask. Avoid using a disposable mask for several times, this can lead to maskne as well as leaving you in danger of coronavirus infection.

Chapter 3

How to treat maskne

Now that you know the ways to prevent maskne, you might also need to know about the possible treatments for maskne. In the following, we will introduce several tips that could help you in maskne treatment. As you might know, you should keep wearing a mask when you visit public places even if you have maskne, because it is the best way to keep yourself and others around you from getting covid-19.

As we mentioned earlier, maskne is an umbrella term for several problems. However, it contains a series of symptoms, which could be treated according to following ways.

Wash your face regularly

Washing your face is an important daily skin care routine to keep your skin healthy and natural. You should wash your face in the following conditions:

  • Once in the morning
  • Once in the night before sleep
  • After wearing a mask or sweating

When you have maskne it is important to wash your face regularly. Use lukewarm water for washing your face. After washing pat your skin dry with a clean towel. You should also avoid rubbing your skin because this leads to irritation.

Prevent Maskne

Use a gentle cleanser

As we mentioned earlier, cleansers are an inseperable part of every healthy skin care routine. Several types of cleansers are available with or without alcohol and perfume. Use a gentle cleanser without alcohol and perfume to remove exess oil, sweat, and bacteria. Ingredients such as alcohol and fragrances could cause irritation and make your healing harder and slower.

If you are suffering severe maskne, try a medicated cleanser containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. You should ask your doctor about the best type of cleanser for your skin if your have a sensitive skin.

Take it easy

Many of us start to use intense scrubbing and cleansing once becoming aware about our maskne breakout. You should know that this might lead to adverse effects as it can lead to further irritation of the skin. Just take it easy and avoid using intense treatment products before wearing your mask.

Special products for treatment of acne such as benzoyl peroxide could also become more irritating beneath a face mask. So, when you know you should wear a mask for a long time, it is recommended to avoid using these products.

Prevent Maskne

Use Ice

If your maskne contains severe symptoms and you experience redness and swelling after removing your face mask, you can use ice on your skin for a few minutes at a time. For this, use a paper towel between the bag of ice and your face skin to prevent further damage. To reduce inflammation, you can use hydrocortisone cream after icing. However, you should only use a small amount when it is necessary, and don’t try to overuse these creams as it might lead to more breakouts when it is used in large amounts.

Use non-comedogenic products

Most of us when confronting a new skin issue try to switch to new skin care products. When it comes to acne, non-comedogenic products could be the best option. So, regardless what type of skin care product you seek, it is recommended to switch on non-comedogenic poducts. These products are designed to work without clogging the pores of your skin, which is the most common cause of acne.

Avoid makeup

As we mentioned earlier, makeup with regular cosmetic products leads to clogging the pores of your skin. When you are suffering maskne, you should avoid heavy makeup as it can worsen the problem. Products such as concealer, foundation, and blush can clog your pores and make the process of healing slower and harder.

Prevent Maskne

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Chapter 4

Closing Thoughts


Maskne is a common name for a variety of problems that breakout with wearing face mask for long time. This name is invented after the spread of Covid-19 disease that should be controlled by wearing a face mask in public places. However, this problem occurs for several reasons and it does not contain a certain treatment. The best way to treat this problem is to identify its source and trying to treat or remove its cause. So if you see its symptoms on your face, don’t panic and avoid using intense cleansers and scrubbers as they might worsen the problem. Simply take it easy and use a gentle cleanser and regularly wash your face.

You can do several things to prevent maskne and avoid its breakout. From choosing a suitable face mask to taking serious self-care tips like washing your cloth mask regularly, using fragrance-free detergents, commitment to skin care routines, and using topical antibiotic cream, are some tips that helps you in this way. Maskne is not a dangerous skin problem and could be managed easily when you are aware about its causes and treatments. However, if you are suffering its severe types, you might visit your doctor or dermatologist to use medicational treatments to feel better in a few days.

Prevent Maskne

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What is Maskne?

It might be maskne, meaning, acne caused by wearing a face mask. Maskne or mask-related acne has become a serious skin condition. ... Facial foes like skin irritations, redness, itchiness, peeling around your jawline, cheekbones, and mouth are some of the common signs of this new problem.

How do you treat Mascne?

Dermatologists also recommend treatments that include benzyl peroxide and glycolic acid to spot treat blemishes and dark spots. Meanwhile, over–the–counter pimple patches, facial toners, and chemical exfoliators are also known to be effective in reducing mascne.

How do I stop Maskne?

Wash Reusable Masks. Toss masks into the washing machine after each use to remove any makeup or bacteria that can build up and lead to breakouts. Wash Your Face. Apply Moisturizer. Avoid Over-Exfoliating. Avoid Touching Your Face.

Prevent Maskne

Prevent Maskne info