An essential daily accessory since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the mask, whether FFP2, surgical or fabric, has its share of drawbacks, especially for the skin. Skin problems specifically due to wearing the mask over time have thus appeared over the months.
“People already suffering from acne, eczema, rosacea, or having atopic, dry and irritable skin, are more at risk”, indicates Brigitte Milpied, dermatologist-allergist at Saint-André hospital in Bordeaux and member of the French Society of Dermatology.
The main problem with wearing a mask beyond six hours a day is the irritation dermatitis. “It manifests itself by redness, dryness, skin sensitivity and sometimes, itches, especially at the level of the nasal bridge. The metal rod which makes it possible to fix the mask well presses on an area of the nose which is not used to being so stressed “, explains the specialist.
Mask-related skin problems: specialists take stock
Eager to raise awareness of these specific skin problems, two dermatologists from King’s College Hospital in London (United Kingdom) provided an update in an article published on June 7, 2021 in The BMJ Practice.
These skin conditions which can occur due to prolonged wearing of the mask result in particular from hot, humid and occlusive environment created under the mask and friction of the mask with the skin in certain places.
By analyzing the scientific literature on the subject, the two specialists in dermatology were thus able to make a visual summary of the locations of the lesions, their characteristics (presence of papules, comedones, etc.), and the name of the associated pathology.
We can see that all facial dermatoses associated with wearing a mask do not appear where the mask is located. Of course, irritant dermatitis is localized behind the ears and in the nose. But rosacea or mask-related acne can cause redness in the T-zone of the face, including the forehead.
As for acne, or should we say, the mascne, it is linked both to the hot and humid environment under the mask, to the acneic nature of the skin and to the presence of pathogenic bacteria, which this favorable environment can cause to proliferate.
Fortunately, there are medicinal treatments, oral or local, to overcome these skin conditions, when they do not disappear by themselves after a while without a mask or by changing the mask model. “And do not hesitate to contact a dermatologist in teleconsultation in case of doubt “, adds Brigitte Milpied.
The right actions to avoid skin problems related to the mask
At the end of the article, the two British dermatologists offer some advice to put an end to the skin problems associated with the mask, and to avoid the tail among dermatologists because of the wearing of the mask. Here they are :
- cleanse your skin with a mild product, without soap ;
- apply a emollient cream at least 30 minutes before putting on your mask, for example in the morning before work;
- apply a protective tape, for example based on silicone or adhesive tape on the nasal bridge and, if necessary, on the cheekbones in contact with the mask;
- make sure you wear a mask well adjusted, not too tight;
- and take regular breaks, without mask, to limit irritation and humidity of the lower face.
Brigitte Milpied also advises the application of a spray water to soothe irritation, and light moisturizer. Applying too oily a cream several times a day would be counter productive.
Allergy is very rare
Are you worried that the mask will cause an allergic reaction? Rest assured, this type of allergy is very rare. The metal bar at the nose is guaranteed nickel free, and is therefore not allergenic. “I tested the masks myself at the hospital to be sure!”, Says Brigitte Milpied.
Symptoms of a possible allergy are worsening of dermatosis despite the application of a cream, an irritated area more and more extensive, even the appearance of scales, erosions. In that case, contact a healthcare professional, who will offer you appropriate treatment.