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The masks are off..... is it really 'Maskne'??

So... they say at least in the UK that the pandemic is over?!

Many people are reclaiming their faces and wondering, what now?

Over the past 2 years we've learned a new way of life and part of that involved mask wearing.

No doubt, many did face eruptions on their skin they hadn't dealt with before, and we termed it all "Maskne" (Mask Acne). Whilst in the medical sector especially in surgery, mask wearning was not unusual, what was unusual was the amount of time spent wearing it outside work and often infrequent changing of used masks. We all became accostomed to mask life!

Photo credit: Sora Shimazaki

What causes Maskne?

It is often caused by blocking of the pores (which medics call occlusion), by warm air and a build up of sweat and dirt from frequently used masks; combined with regular rubbing and friction from constantly adjusting the mask on your face. Compounding this, wearing makeup to cover the lesions further occludes the skin and often makes lesions more irritaed and therefore inflamed. A lack of a regular skin care routine and cleansing of the face after long days wearing masks will also serve to make the problem worse.

People with Maskne will often seen this as inflammatory pustules arund the mouth, nose and chin in areas where the mask covered.

How can it be treated?

If you need to continue wearing a mask for work as I do; giving your face periods of rest away from masks is crucial when safe and appropriate to do so.

Masks which cause less fricton and are made of fabrics like cotton are kinder to the skin but not so good at keeping out the virus. A triple layered mask is best to keep harmful viruses out.

An FFP2 mask is less likely to rub directly on most of the face than a standard surgical mask.

Also, ensuring you change your face mask twice a day, avoiding eating with face masks on and then smearing food all over your face as you put it back on is also very important to reduce skin irritation.

A regular skin care rotuine which includes cleansing of the skin with a good oil-free foaming cleanser - double cleansing always preferred - and use of cosmecuticals containing things like glycolic acid.

Some over-the-counter creams can help with the redness some people experience. Benzoyl Peroxide is very good at tackling this, but may stain bedding and clothing, including your mask - so please take note!

So I've tried all the above and it isn't getting better.....What now?

It might not be Maskne!

Another skin complaint which is very similar to the appearance of Maskne is Peri-oraficial Dermatitis.

In this condition, there is a very similar clinical appearance with inflammatory lesions (often containgning the appearance of pus) ususally seen in women (although men can be affected) aged 20-50.

It's often caused by people trying to self treat with things they had at home, especially steroids!! There are other things which can cause it, but this is often identified by taking a detailed history from the patient in a consultation.

The treatment is very different and involves the use of antibiotics either in the form of creams or tablets depending on its severity to clear the skin; commenced after stopping any triggering or causative agents.

Here the antibiotics are used for their anti-inflammtory properties

Patients usually get a favourable response and on-going self-care advice is often provided.

Another cause for persistent rash around the mouth and nose not responding to skin care advice above may be Acne Rosacea, and treatment for this differs. You will need an examination and treatment plan from a doctor to control this....but we'll leave this topic for another day!

So if you've read this far and think, hang on my Maskne hasn't gone despite following all the advice given carefully; book an appoitnment for a consultation with us today to get down to the root of the problem and get the correct treatment today!

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