Face masks

Mask Irritating Your Skin? Here's What Can Help

"Most people have some sort of skin complaint when wearing these masks all day," said Dr. Abigail Waldman, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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With no clear end to the coronavirus pandemic in sight, face masks are the newest accessory we literally can't go without.

Although uncomfortable, there are some steps doctors say you can take to keep you safer and healthier while wearing masks.

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"Most people have some sort of skin complaint when wearing these masks all day," said Dr. Abigail Waldman, a dermatologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Waldman said she has been getting questions non-stop, especially from medical colleagues about skin irritation from the masks which is being dubbed "maskne" -- a play on the word "acne."

The best way to prevent maskne, doctors say, is to keep your mask clean and by throwing away your disposable surgical mask once it looks dirty.

Reusable masks should be washed every day, preferably in sensitive skin detergent.

With facial coverings here to stay for a while amid the coronavirus pandemic, researchers at the University of Chicago found what kind of fabric provides the best protection.

"The mask can press on the skin and actually occlude the hair follicles causing the breakout," Waldman said. "Another thing is you can get a buildup of makeup and lotions and all sorts of allergens that are coming from the outside, on the inside of the mask and you can get somewhat of sensitivity to those allergens."

Waldman recommends washing your face before and after wearing a mask with a simple gentle cleanser and then moisturize.

"You don't want to be using harsh soaps that are going to scrub and strip the outer layer of your skin because that can actually make you more sensitive to whatever you're coming in contact with."

The type of mask can also be causing skin irritation, Waldman said. She recommends lighter material, like cotton.

If you're outside enjoying the summer sun, Waldman says apply sunscreen to your entire face even under the mask.

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