Posted by Amy Carbone on Sep 18, 2023 9:53:00 AM
As a dental professional, you’re no stranger to wearing a face mask while on the job. But during the pandemic, continuous mask-wearing in public became a global practice.
The increase of time with a mask on — first among healthcare workers and then among the general population — led to more cases of facial dermatoses, including:
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
These skin conditions directly related to mask-wearing have been dubbed “maskne.” Let’s discuss what it is, what causes it, treatment options, and how to prevent maskne in the first place.
Maskne can affect anyone of any age who wears a mask for extended periods. You or your staff could have this issue, which may impact overall wellness.
What Is Maskne and What Causes It?
Since maskne is acne caused by a facial mask, the term only applies to new skin irritations around the mouth, nose, and cheeks — areas that a standard mask covers. Due to the friction from prolonged mask usage in combination with sweat, oil, and dirt trapped under the mask, the skin may eventually become irritated, causing a form of acne known as “acne mechanica.”
How To Prevent Maskne
1. Choose the Best Face Mask To Reduce Irritations
Along with your dental practice’s dress code, choosing what mask to wear is an important safety factor. However, there may be one that rubs less, is more breathable, and feels more comfortable on your skin. Avoid masks with irritants like metal or rubber that could cause contact dermatitis.
Disposable Masks To Prevent Face Mask Acne
Disposable procedure masks — also called surgical masks — may offer more protection against contaminants, but they must be thrown away after use. Even if you’re not with a patient, you should avoid touching your face and the disposable mask, and remember that most procedure masks should only be worn for about four hours.
Fitted disposable masks, such as the N95, are considered the most protective. However, they are also the most irritating. Because of higher humidity, less breathability, and warmer air temperature, they pose a higher risk of causing mask acne.
2. Develop a Daily Skincare Routine
Find products that remove dirt and oils but also work for your skin type. If you know you have sensitive skin, look for hypoallergenic products that can keep your pores clean without being too harsh.
Remember to moisturize to prevent your skin from drying out and becoming more easily irritated. If you have a beard, ensure products are getting under your beard hair to treat the skin underneath.
Beware of Active Ingredients
Masks can amplify the effect of certain active ingredients like retinol or benzyl peroxide, which can cause additional irritation to your skin. Restrict active ingredients usage to your nighttime routine to prevent creating an occlusive barrier between your skin and your mask.
3. Limit (Or Eliminate) Makeup Usage
Makeup is known for being comedogenic — it can block pores and cause blackheads. Add a mask on top, and it only intensifies the problem. Try switching to lighter coverage, such as a tinted moisturizer, or ditch facial makeup altogether to allow your skin to breathe.
4. Reduce Your Stress
While the face mask may be the main culprit for your skin’s irritation, stress can also contribute to breakouts. Find ways to reduce your stress both at home and at work, including a way to address the Sunday Scaries.
Build a Work Environment That Keeps Your Team Confident (and Maskne Free!)
Dealing with mask acne is distracting and can lower confidence, leading to poor performance from both you and your dental team. However, taking steps to treat and prevent this common issue can allow everyone to focus on providing top-tier service to your patients.
For tips on how to empower your staff and effectively manage your dental practice, explore our e-book: Managing People in Your Dental Practice.
About Treloar & Heisel
Treloar & Heisel, an EPIC Company, offers dental and medical professionals a comprehensive suite of financial products and services ranging from business and personal insurance to wealth management. We are proud to assist thousands of clients from residency to practice and through retirement. Our experienced teams deliver custom-tailored advice through an active local presence, while our strong national network ensures that clients experience the same high level of service throughout the country.