Acne- Maskne

  • Best Results1-4 weeks
  • Treatment RecoveryNA
  • Procedure TimeNA
  • Skin SpecialistDermatologist
  • Duration of ResultsLong-term
  • AnaestheticNA
  • Back to WorkNA
  • Cost$ Medicare

Acne- Maskne

Maskne is the new pandemic of acne secondary to mask wearing. It is a form of mechanical acne. Friction, occlusion, bacterial infection & changes in humidity are all contributing factors. Modifying your skincare routine can help reduce maskne, as can the proper use of face masks. Read more to understand.

FactsFacts on Maskne

  • This form of acne is the most common subtype in adults following the pandemic
  • Maskne is more common with cloth masks compared to disposable masks
  • Maskne can resemble other skin conditions that also flare up with mask wearing
  • Perioral dermatitis resembles maskne & effects the nose & perioral area
  • Rosacea resembles acne & flare up with skin irritation & humidity
  • Seborrheic dermatitis can co-exist with maskne
  • A dermatologist can effectively treat maskne

What is maskne?

This form of acne is one of the most common variants due to the pandemic. It occurs secondary to mask wearing and is secondary to acne mechanica. Occlusion, hygiene, friction, moisture, humidity & stress all contribute to maskne.

What causes maskne?

Many factors contribute to acne flare ups including occlusion & increased humidity under the mask, proliferation of bacteria, friction on the skin coupled with stressors of the Covid pandemic.

What types of masks are notorious for maskne?

You can get maskne with any masks however it is more common with non-disposable cloth masks. The primary reason is that even though these types of masks keep out viruses, they allow for breeding of bacteria. Coupled with occlusion from residual make up, sunscreen & moisturizer, they get easily contaminated. The solution? Change your mask twice a day & remember to wash them after one use. Consider disposable cotton masks as an alternative.

Why is a proper fitting mask essential?

Apart from the obvious (keep Covid/viruses out), a comfortable fit helps with skin health. A snug fit reduces skin problems. Too tight & it causes skin irritation, too loose & it causes friction. Additionally, you are more likely to adjust a poor fitting mask, addition to more chances of infection & contamination.

I prefer cotton masks with a mouldable nose piece & cotton tie; however I have been wearing masks for over two decades as these are required for surgery & laser. Use what fits you best/most comfortable.

Why is mask fit & care important?

There are many steps in preventing maskne, they all add up. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using masks for 4 hours on, with a 15-minute break, taking into account your situational scenario.

Mask hygiene & selection:

  1. Mask application: proper fit, not too tight or too loose as this increases friction.
  2. Cotton over cloth/silk fibre masks.
  3. Short breaks from mask wearing.
  4. Have 6-8 non-disposable masks, wash after each use.

What is the best cleanser to help prevent maskne?

A gentle one, preferably without harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid scrubs, microbeads or oils. La Roche Posay Tolerane or Rosaliac are good cleansers, Cerave makes good ones as well.

Use your fingertips, to wash, avoid mechanical brushes, sponges, washcloths, or loofahs.

Davin’s Viewpoint on Maskne

The new pandemic of skin rashes is maskne. It affects the entire globe thanks to Covid. All ages are affected, including the young to old, however it is more common in females around the ages of 15 to 30. Makeup makes maskne worse, more on that later.

There are strict definitions of maskne in the dermatology literature, namely ‘an eruption of acne mechanica with a distribution of an O, as compared to T zone eruption within 6 months of mask wearing.’ We all need definitions to categorize things, but from a practical standpoint, there is a huge overlap between maskne, normal acne, hormonal acne, stress related acne, acne rosacea, perioral dermatitis or steroid induced acne, as well as atypical variants of dermatitis. Dermatologists, like normal people, want a simple diagnosis to hang a hat on, but in practical terms, the most common presentations are overlaps. Treatment is more or less the same, however prognosis can be skewed according to secondary rashes. POD secondary to corticosteroid use or excessive skin care carries a much better prognosis compared to say, rosacea, which is lifelong- chronic.

Simple mask wearing tips include change your mask twice a day, washing your masks after one application. Using cotton over cloth masks, reduce rubbing your face or touching it through the mask (reduces friction). A proper fitting mask is vital. Too tight & occasion can result. Too loose & friction comes into play. Taking regular breaks to let your skin breathe is super helpful. Dermatologists recommend taking a 15-minute break after 4 hours of occlusion.

If I can summarise skin care in one phrase- keep things simple, namely an inert cleanser & a banal moisturizer to repair skin barrier function. Cut out all mechanical methods of face washing. This includes towels, loofah, brushes, sponges & devices. Use your fingertips.

Your dermatologist will have their own algorithm of treatment, depending on the clinical picture, your previous attempts to treat mask acne, the degree of overlap between other forms of acne, & many other variables.

Join the conversation

Join Dr Davin Lim on Instagram to stay up to date


Enquire now!

Get In Touch

Quick Contact

Dr Lim has unparalleled experience in dermatology. Fill in the form below and he will get back to you with your query
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.