Is Your Skin Breaking Out From Wearing A Face Mask?

How to treat different kinds of skin issues from face masks

Face mask

If your skin is already feeling the effects of mask wearing, here’s what you can do for some of the most common problems.

  • Dryness/skin peeling: Dryness and peeling can be the first signs of mask irritation. Over time, your skin can become prone to sensitivity, redness, dark marks, and breakdown. To fight this, always apply moisturizer before wearing your mask. After taking it off, apply pure petrolatum ointment.
  • Redness/swelling: If you have redness and swelling after taking off your mask, icing the skin can help. You can use ice cubes in a bag or frozen peas. Buffer with a paper towel and apply to the skin for a few minutes at a time. Follow with a small amount of over-the-counter hydrocortisone 1% cream. Use the hydrocortisone only as needed. Be careful not to use it too much or too often. Overuse can thin the skin and make you break out. Don’t apply your mask right on top of the hydrocortisone. That traps it in and makes it stronger.
  • Skin breakdown: If you have fissures or breaks in the skin, cover them with a hydrocolloid dressing before putting your mask on. After removing the mask and washing your face, apply pure petrolatum wherever you need it. Another option is a prescription barrier cream like EpiCeram, Hylatopic, or Eletone.
  • Acne/breakouts: If you’re getting pimples under your mask, change your moisturizer. Look for something light that is “non-comedogenic.” This means it won’t clog your pores. You can add a glycolic acid wash or a sulfur soap to your regimen. Avoid leave-on products that will end up trapped under the mask. If your breakouts are severe or don’t get better, you might need prescription medications.

When should I see a doctor?

If you have skin damage or breakouts that don’t respond to skin care changes, you should see a dermatologist. Many now offer virtual visits. Spreading redness or draining pus can be signs of infection. If this happens, seek immediate medical attention.

The bottom line

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we might be wearing masks for a long time. The right skin care routine can help lessen mask-related skin damage and breakouts.


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