The New Norm: Mask Wearing and Skin Care: Tips From a Dermatologist

Caring For Your Skin Under a Face Mask

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s latest guidance advises Americans to wear a protective face-covering in public areas where social distancing is difficult, to reduce the risk of transmitting a COVID-19 infection.

The new norm is wearing a cloth face covering at all times outside, and PPE when we’re at work. But what is happening to our skin under the mask?

In a recent study published in JAAD, 70 percent of healthcare workers interviewed cited dry skin, 56.8 percent face tenderness, especially on the bridge of the nose, 52.5 percent itchy skin. Over 60 percent noted peeling skin, 49.4 percent experienced erythema due to burst blood vessels, and 32.9 percent had acne-like pimples. The nasal bridge, where a mask rests, was the most common area of irritation. N95 masks, due to their tight fit required to properly work, were the worst. We are already starting to hear concerns form our patients regarding acne like lesions and rosacea flares with mask wearing.

So what should we do, and what should we tell our patients? It is important to understand why we see irritation under these masks to be able to address it properly. Reasons for irritation: One, the direct pressure from the mask, two, the accumulation of moisture on the skin, and three, due to the direct friction from the material of the masks.

We need to treat skin very gently at this time, and increase and support its protective barrier.

My recommendations:

But most important, don’t stress, because you don’t want to add to aggravation. We are all in it together, and we’ve got it!

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