Healthy Living: Combating 'maskne'


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Most of us are wearing face coverings every day right now, and a lot of us are fighting a battle we haven’t fought since our teenage years… acne, or more specifically, 'maskne.'  

Dr. Kendra Bergstrom is a professor of dermatology at the University of Washington. She says, “It’s something that pops up now, months in, usually where our mask, where our visors might be and sometimes underneath the mask.” 

Dr. Bergstrom says it is happening in people who don’t have day-to-day acne, and it is different than any acne we may have had before the pandemic began. 

“I think we are holding humidity in and our little lower face is getting almost like a small steam room, tropical environment, and then the edges that are around it are being sealed in and that’s the job of a mask…” 

Dr. Bergstrom says notice where you mask lays. If you are getting acne in a specific spot on your face, she says try to switch it up and try a variety of mask shapes. 

So what else can we do to combat 'maskne?'  

Dr. Bergstrom says it is important to wash your face, especially at night. Keep it simple by not introducing more than one or two acne fighting products at a time, “I worry about people going zero to 60 and having an eight-step regimen and using a toner and a scrubber, and all of a sudden their skin feels quite tight and what does the body think? 'I must help them,' and it makes more oil.” 

So when you are looking for products, Dr. Bergstom says look for ones that say “for face” on them… and non-comedogenic.

Some products she recommends are easy to find at drugstores and include, CeraVe, Cetaphil, Eucerin and Aveeno. She says these are all designed to be simple and basic and just lay on your skin.  

Now when it comes to teenagers, their products tend to be a little harsher and not ideal for adults. Some products she recommends for teens that are easy to find include Cetaphil Oil Free (look for the purple cap), sensitive skin Proactive and Benzoyl peroxide. She says don't start at 10% as 2% that might be enough. 

Dr. Bergstrom says when it comes to the fabric our masks are made out of, shoot for cotton as that will be the least likely to cause issues.  

And while we have to wash our face, it is also important to wash our masks regularly as well. She says if you can, use fragrance and color free detergent and fabric softener, “Washing is important, because if we don’t, our skin oils are just gonna stay on that fabric and reapplying is not helpful for that.” 

Now, if you have tried all of these things to no avail, Dr. Bergstrom says it could be something different. It could be perioral dermatitis which is an inflammatory rash around the mouth, or it could be an allergic contact to something in the mask. 


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