Tips for keeping your skin healthy — and avoiding ‘Maskne’

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Wearing a mask or facial covering during the coronavirus pandemic is essential to keeping you and others safe, but it might irritate your skin. There are steps you can take to keep your skin healthy while adhering to the safest guidelines.

First, always wash your hands before applying any products to your skin. Wash your hands before you wash your face. You don't want bacteria from your hands rubbing all over your face and causing more problems. Next, wash your hands before and after touching, removing, or putting on your mask.

Bacteria from your hands is not only potentially dangerous during this time, but it can also transfer onto your skin from your mask and cause more breakouts or irritation. You also want to remove your mask from the ear loops to avoid touching the dirty areas of the mask. It is helpful to exfoliate once per week to remove dead skin cells and bacteria.

I recommend a gentle hydroxy acid wash or other gentle exfoliant without scrubbing beads. Wash your masks frequently and allow them to dry between uses.

If you can't wash your mask, make sure it stays dry and clean. Fifteen minutes of UV light in a dry, heated area can be an effective way to help clean a paper mask if it must be reused.

Avoid wearing any makeup or pore-clogging products under your mask. These products will mix with the moisture trapped under the mask and become a breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. Make sure to cleanse your skin gently before and after wearing your mask.

Use a gentle cleanser or one with salicylic acid to address breakouts.

It can be helpful to use a clarifying skin care mask once per week to refresh your skin and clear unwanted breakouts.

You can apply an acne spot treatment to problem areas - you may find these to be your cheeks, nose, jawline, and chin.

Please make sure you are applying a good moisturizer morning and night to keep your skin at its healthiest so it can stay strong and hydrated. This is probably the most important way to keep the skin barrier intact and avoid infections or breakouts.

If you find that your skin is extra dry and sensitive throughout the day, try gently tapping a little bit of moisturizer over the problem areas (this can work with or without makeup). For any severe breakouts, contact your dermatology office to schedule a visit to discuss prescription solutions.


Dr. Carmen Traywick founded May River Dermatology with her husband in 2009 and co-owns LUX ~ A Medical Spa, founded in 2014. She is a graduate of Emory Medical School in Atlanta.