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Use of face masks can cause acne, expert says

 Face masks can irritate the skin with its use. Dr. Bodemer still says face masks are essential to wear.
Face masks can irritate the skin with its use. Dr. Bodemer still says face masks are essential to wear. (WSAW)
Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 5:38 PM CDT
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If you wear your mask every day, you may notice an increase of acne on your face. You are not alone. Health care workers, grocery store employees, and any job that requires a mask to be worn all day are seeing small bumps called blackheads and whiteheads pop up on their faces.

“We see these in athletes who wear helmets. Anything that rubs up against the skin,” Apple Bodemer, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin, said.

That’s right. Football players typically see issues with acne mechanica. It’s caused by the rubbing of the equipment on the forehead, chin, or shoulders. Experts say that masks are causing the same thing.

“Sometimes if you pick at them, they can become inflamed, but they don’t typically start off as really large and inflammatory nodules,” Dr. Bodemer said.

The cause of these bumps is due to the friction of the masks rubbing up against the face all day. This is why a softer material for your mask helps.

“There are some masks that have different fabric, so you just want something that’s soft on the face if you can help it,” she added.

But some workers, like health care workers, can’t help it. There are other ways to help with the acne, like washing your face gently.

When you have whiteheads and blackheads, the instinct is to rub them to remove them. That’s the wrong thing to do.

“Our oil glands job is to protect our skin, and when you take off too much of the oil on our skin, that can actually give a message to our oil glands that they need to work harder,” Dr. Bodemer explained.

She recommends using a cream-based cleanser, adding that they are less harsh on the skin.

The last thing she recommends is not wearing makeup under the mask.

“It gets hot inside those masks, especially with breathing and crating some humidity there. And just the extra makeup can cause excess blocking of the pores and cause more aggravation,” she said.

Dr. Bodemer stresses that just because these masks are causing acne, there is still a threat of Covid-19 out there and you should continue to wear a mask in public.

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