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What is Maskne & How Do We Prevent and Treat It

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It has been several months since COVID-19 interrupted every bit of our existence as we knew it. We were asked to stay home until further notice in the wake of not understanding how this virus could attack the human body. Then we were given permission to leave our homes but not congregate with more than 50 people. Or was it 10? Grocery store hours changed and now we wait in a line before filling our pre-sanitized carts with fresh fruit and veggies. Oh, and don’t forget to keep a six foot distance between you and the next person in the checkout line. Hugging? Don’t even think about it. Our elbows are getting more love and attention than they ever have. What we consider as ‘normal life’ has been completely uprooted until further notice. And if all of that isn’t bad enough, we have to wear masks to enjoy any bit of a regular human existence outside of our homes. 

We get it! Masks aren’t a big deal, right? If this is what our local and national governments are mandating to protect ourselves and those around us, we are all for it. We 100% encourage following the rules… 

Then one pimple…

Two pimples… 

THREE! 

Why are so many of us starting to get new breakouts on our clear skin or fresh pimples on our face as we walk through the clear skin journey? Many of us are experiencing ‘Mask Acne’ also known as Maskne – the skin complexion monster we never knew was real but quickly surfaced its ugly head on our chins, cheeks, noses and upper lips. 

Do you know YOUR primary acne trigger? Still struggling with an unsure self-diagnosis?

We created a short quiz to help you Discover YOUR Complexion Triggers

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What is Maskne? 

If suffering from acne because of genetics, hormones and stress wasn’t bad enough, now we have to guard ourselves from additional breakouts because of a necessary safeguard against COVID-19, the mask. With wearing this required nose and mouth shield, can come unwelcomed breakouts in facial areas covered by the mask. 

Maskne is the visible result of bacteria on our skin mixing with oil and dead skin cells in our pores under a mask where warm air is being trapped causing a blockage that we commonly call a pimple. If not tended to well, this breeding ground can cause someone who is on the path to clear skin to have a setback. For someone who has cleared their acne once and for all, Maskne can cause much disappointment and fear that their acne wasn’t truly healed. And for the person who never suffered from acne, this bacteria feasting ground can cause unsightly red bumps to form for the very first time.

How do I prevent Maskne? 

Now that we have accepted masks as a part of our day-to-day lives, prevention is key to keep those pesky pimples away from our clear skin. Below are some quick and easy tips to help manage the growth and spread of bacteria on the skin’s surface while wearing a protective mask.

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Prevention Tips

  1. Update your daily skincare routine with non pore-clogging and non-comedogenic products. This regimen should include a cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, SPF, and a skin-clearing multi vitamin that will aid the skin in healing from the inside out. 
  1. Wash your hands before touching your face. 
  1. Fabric Masks – Although fabric masks are attractive and more fun to wear than its less colorful counterpart, the paper mask, this option can often breed more bacteria because of limited ventilation due to the nature of many materials being thicker than paper. 
    1. To increase air flow, pull the fabric mask under your chin when you are alone or properly distanced from others to give your skin an opportunity to breathe. 
    2. Wash your fabric mask daily in hot water along with a detergent that contains non pore-clogging ingredients
    3. We strongly discourage you from rewearing your fabric mask without washing it but if that’s not possible, hang your mask up in a well ventilated, dry area until it’s time to use it again.
  1. Paper Masks – They aren’t the most pleasing aesthetically but paper masks are well ventilated and able to be thrown away daily along with the dirt and bacteria from the day. We have served many clients who have been able to clear their Maskne quickly by switching to paper masks along with following a daily non pore-clogging skincare routine with non-comedogenic products
  2. Pro Tip – If you find that it gets a bit hot under your mask on a warm day or you know that you will have to wear your mask for a long period of time (i.e. essential workers), we advise that you wipe the skin area under your mask with salicylic toner once or twice in your day to manage the bacteria that can be growing on the surface of your skin.
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How do I treat Maskne? 

Although Mask Acne has been given the fun nickname of Maskne, there is nothing enjoyable about bumps on our faces and we should consider this a very real case of acne although moderate

Better still, we have also created a Maskne clear skin kit bundle containing a range of effective and acne-safe products for all adult acne types.

Treatment Tips

First, start with the preventative measures above to eliminate factors that weren’t present before COVID-19 made its way on the scene of our lives. Ask yourself the following questions to begin healing: 

  1. Do I have a non pore-clogging skincare routine with non-comedogenic products? Am I following this routine twice per day? It’s time to establish or reestablish a daily skincare routine. If you don’t know where to start, feel free to give us a call so we can point you in the right direction. Also check out our Skincare Routine 101 For Every Skin Type article for more routine tips. 
  1. Am I washing or sanitizing my hands before I touch my face? It’s imperative to minimize the amount of bacteria and dirt transfer to your face at all times. Cleanse your hands with warm water, soap or your favorite bacteria-fighting hand sanitizer. 
  1. Am I washing my fabric mask everyday or hanging it up in a well ventilated, dry area in between uses? If your preference is to wear a fabric mask, it’s best to wash it in hot water along with a detergent free of pore-clogging ingredients. If you want to go the extra mile and really limit the amount of bacteria that may be spreading from your mask to skin, opt for disposable paper masks and use a new one everyday. 
  2. Am I wearing my mask for extended hours? If yes, wipe your skin once or twice a day with salicylic toner to cleanse the bacteria, dirt, and oil from the surface of your skin.
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The Verdict

Ultimately, the goal of treating Maskne is to limit the spread of bacteria! If you follow the steps of prevention and a daily skincare routine, you will naturally assist Maskne in staying far away from your face.

Maskne is frustrating, disheartening and embarrassing. Having knowledge to prevent Maskne is key but if you find yourself in a challenging space with this condition and you want to tackle Maskne and any pre existing acne, we have Clear Skin Coaches standing by who would love to get you started on your journey to acne and Maskne free skin. Schedule your FREE consultation today. 

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About the Author: Jessica Gremley

Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist and Healing Diets Coach since 2003. After struggling with acne for more than a decade, she became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals for herself and eventually, future clients. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen that combines proven non-comedogenic skincare products, natural supplements, lifestyle coaching, and support from trained acne specialists to achieve lifelong clear skin. She and her staff serve locally at Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and nationally via NAC’s Online Acne Program.

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