Have you suddenly noticed an uptick in red bumps on your face that previously had no business being there? Is it accurate to say that you are experiencing breakouts since we’ve been wearing face masks for the past couple of months? While all of us are doing our part to slow the transmission of Covid-19 by consistently keeping our distance and frequently washing our hands, there is also the new reality of wearing a face mask daily. And unfortunately, we have just met the rather annoying side-effect of, rather commendably, protecting ourselves. Mask Acne (Mascne/Maskne).
Mascne (or maskne) - is one of the new expressions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, much to the chagrin of many people. Many have noted a sudden increase in the incidence of ‘Mascne’, with a myriad of skin problems such as breakouts, blemishes, pimples, and blackheads, the moment mask-wearing was made compulsory in many cities worldwide. The prevalence of acne in a study after the use of mask was 53.4%, with it occurring most frequently in doctors. 
Some have had no prior history of inflammatory skin conditions such as facial dermatitis/eczema. Others with past medical histories of certain skin conditions are succumbing to relapses.
It is important to understand that masks are usually made out of synthetic materials. Friction and/or inflammation is one of the primary reasons that cause folliculitis, acne, or relapses. Dr Lee Mun Heng from Cambridge Medical Group advises finding a textile fabric that your skin will be able to tolerate after your skin condition has been treated with the proper topical medication and treatments.
Another important note is that ‘Mascne’ may not always mean Acne. Many skin conditions tend to look similar to each other, and it becomes easy to misdiagnose and apply the wrong medication to worsening their condition. The best option is to see your doctor if you are unsure of the diagnosis.
While breakouts and acne can cause much grief, that does not mean you chuck all your face masks out the window and stop wearing them or shrug your shoulders as the mask also hides these recent blemishes on your face. We have compiled a few simple tips to utilise for your daily routine, as well as some treatments you can think about looking into to keep mask-related breakouts under control.
To ensure your breakouts are under control, masks that are made from lightweight materials such as cotton or silk are ones that you should pick. These materials are less likely to trap heat and humidity from the external environment, causing less irritation and strain to your skin. Another important note is to wash or change your face masks regularly. You might be thinking that this is pretty much common sense but, many opt to air dry their masks out in the sun without washing them. This method is great for purging the virus, not so much regarding the bacteria and dirt that sticks to the fabric, causing the unwanted breakouts. Hence, find the mask best suited for your skin, and remember to keep the mask clean and maintain good hygiene. We are rather fortunate in Singapore to have easy access to an abundance of masks.
When you wear your mask for a prolonged period, this exposes the facial skin to an artificial environment of increased humidity.  Professionals such as teachers, those in the healthcare industry, and industrial workers, for example, tend to wear their masks due to health and safety regulations for hours in a day. It is not very difficult to imagine them having to speak constantly through their masks to the point their facial skin is continuously exposed to their saliva over and over again through the exhaled air from their airways. Unfortunately, such humid environments may indulge the spread of certain microbes which include bacteria and fungus. Again, it would be in an individual’s best interests to consult their doctor who can help them narrow down the diagnosis so that the proper treatment can be prescribed.
Some of the drastic forms of skin disease that could be a consequence of prolonged mask-wearing are conditions ranging from comedogenic acne to acute nodulocystic acne. Individuals have relapsed requiring further treatment while those afflicted from Rosacea, their blushing can deteriorate and that can be uncomfortable. Hence, it is an individual’s best interests to not wear their masks for prolonged periods of time.
Washing your mask isn’t enough when you also need to cleanse your face daily. Do not go for aggressive products such as skin peels or harsh exfoliants, but instead, stick to a regular, constant regime. The end goal for your face must always be to cleanse off all the sweat, oil, dirt, and dead skin cells from your pores without peeling, pulling, or damaging your skin.
If you’re thinking about passing up on that sunscreen and moisturiser, just because you have been sweating more, think again. One of the best ways to enhance the strength of your skin’s barrier and keep all the nasty bacteria away is to ensure that your skin is hydrated and well-moisturised. And don’t forget to add on that sunscreen as well. Breakouts will not be your last horror story, the signs of ageing will.
Having your own routine of essential steps that you follow to help keep your skin moisturised, healthy and glowing is great. However, when you have been wearing face masks, it is important to add in a little extra care, especially to keep those pesky blemishes away. And that translates to you having to reconsider your beauty routine slightly. An example if you only washed your face in the morning when you woke up, it is now a requirement to do it twice a day, after cleansing your face. Adding in cleansing and washing your face will help to eliminate the excess sebum and impurities that build up throughout the day and during the night when you sleep.
Exfoliating your face gently depending on your skin type is a great idea, especially if you’re planning on following that up with a facial mask best suited for your skin’s needs, and then your favourite moisturising cream. When it comes to sensitive skin, it is best to use creams recommended by dermatologists to reduce the possibility of irritation and inflammation. However, if the damage has been done and it is too late, we would recommend targeted treatments such as Neogen Plasma or the Gold PTT Acne Treatment offered by Cambridge Medical Group. If you would like to opt for a natural remedy, tea tree essential oil has been known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Now you may be wondering, why would anyone wear makeup when all of us are wearing masks? Despite not being able to wear lipstick, there are individuals who have still stuck to their routine of wearing eye makeup, foundation, concealer etc. Our small recommendation for you, one that could save you quite a bit of time and money, is to rather simple, wear less makeup. Before you start wondering what does this have to do with mask-wearing and acne, let us explain.
Foundation, concealer and any other face products used together in conjunction can block the skin’s pores, and when paired together with mask-wearing: breakouts. If you happen to be someone who just cannot do without your concealer to hide certain blemishes, opt for lightweight textures and most importantly, must be a non-comedogenic formulation. When wearing a face mask, the texture will not cause possible further irritation or blockage of the pores.
Through the use of electromagnetic radiation, the Gold Photothermal Therapy heats particle molecules at the targeted area without harming the surrounding tissues. This method is used to remove excess sebaceous glands to reduce sebum production and to cleanse the remaining sebaceous glands of oil, built-up dirt, and bacterial organisms. Gold Nanoparticles are utilised to enter the pilosebaceous unit and manage the activity of sebaceous glands at Cambridge Medical. Gold is used for its amazing capability to absorb the light energy released by lasers.
There are 5 steps in this treatment:
With the use of AquaJet Facial, the surface of the skin is meticulously cleansed by using a Vortex jet and suction method, to get rid of any dirt and oil gathered throughout the day.
In the interlude, a layer of Gold Nanoparticles will be administered topically onto the skin.
LDM® technology known as local dynamic massage, utilises rapid ultrasonic frequencies to massage the 24K Gold Nanoparticles into the skin.
PICO lasers are the swiftest skin lasers (450 picoseconds) available which guarantees no heat damage to the adjoining tissues as the lasers absorb the light energy and rapidly shake to eliminate the targeted sebaceous glands.
Lastly, the Omega Light Low-Level Laser Therapy uses yellow and infrared wavelengths to revive the body’s natural healing response
PTT uses LED light in combination with topical creams or a photosensitiser (the particles that vibrate to heat the targeted sebaceous glands). This treatment successfully helps to heal acne with little to no downtime and pain.
NeoGen Nitro-Plasma is a progressive skin regeneration treatment that utilises plasma to deliver heat to a targeted treatment area without damaging the surrounding tissues. The plasma is produced utilising nitrogen gas and is turned into activated ionised gas. Nitrogen Plasma, with its unique thermal energy, is able to revive new skin, restoring damaged old collagen and elastin with constrained precision.
Some key advantages of Neogen Plasma are:
These two treatments could help you significantly in your fight against Mascne (Maskne). To find out more on the treatment programme most suitable for you, contact us to book your consultation with Dr Lee Mun Heng.