Jewelry can cause acne

What effects does wearing a protective mask have on the skin of the face?

Masks will probably accompany us in everyday life for some time to come. A dermatologist explains how the skin under the protection can ideally be cared for and which mask is recommended from a dermatological point of view.

The number of new infections in Switzerland has increased again in the last few days, whereupon the Federal Council introduced a mask requirement in public transport; in some cantons it now also applies to grocery stores. While protective masks were only seen sporadically in Switzerland, they will probably shape the public image more in the future.

This causes some discomfort - not only with regard to the environment or the costs of consistently wearing it: You can still remember the photos of people working in the health care system, which are rampant in social networks and who look deep and painful from permanent mask wear Had furrows and redness on the face.

As the scientific journal "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" documents, around 97 percent of doctors and nurses in the Chinese province of Hubei suffered from facial skin problems such as dry and sore skin, abrasions and blisters.

In the lifestyle media, on the other hand, the term "maskne" has recently been used more frequently - which stands for acne and skin irritations that are supposed to be caused by wearing a mask. All of this raises the question of what effects wearing masks has on our facial skin.

Should you pay attention to a special type of care while wearing a mask? Under the protection it is already warm in itself - does the additional sweating in summer favor the formation of impurities? Dermatologist Dr. med. Siegfried Borelli from the Institute for Dermatology and Venereology at the Waid and Triemli City Hospital.

Does regularly wearing a mask cause pain?

"First of all, it must be made clear: The nursing staff who work on Corona wards wear masks of a higher security level," says Dr. Siegfried Borelli. These lie very close to the nose and mouth and are held over the head with a strong elastic band. In addition, there are work assignments that last longer than 12 hours and are carried out day after day.

According to the expert, there are sometimes areas that are chafed, as the pictures on the net make clear. For normal consumers who should soon wear a surgical mask of level one in public transport, there is no risk of this kind, reassures the head doctor of the dermatological outpatient clinic.

Can masks cause allergies?

"So far we have not seen an increase in consultations about skin problems in connection with protective masks, only isolated cases," says Borelli. For example, there was a patient working in the health sector who suspected a mask allergy. However, according to Borelli, it can generally be ruled out that someone will suffer from this: The surgical masks are made of paper and little dyes, which should not cause allergies.

"The patient's suspicions were also dispelled - instead, acne was found that had gotten a little worse due to the mask," says the dermatologist.

How to properly wear a mask

Dr. med. Siegfried Borelli:

“The mask shouldn't be damp because then it can no longer be as tight. Once worn, it should be disposed of in a bin and not worn again. If you have been in the situation where someone has brought viruses into the room (for example in public transport), then you wear virus particles on the outside of the mask. You run the risk of the viruses getting on your hands and thus in the eyes or on the mucous membranes, which means that the mask loses its protective effect. So again as a reminder: take off the mask using the elastic behind the ears, do not touch the front and dispose of it appropriately in the trash can. "

«Maskne»: Can wearing a mask trigger acne?

According to experts, people who have previously had skin that is prone to blemishes may notice a deterioration in their complexion when they wear a mask. Because by constantly breathing in front of your face with the protection for your nose and mouth, a so-called “humid chamber” is created there. This moist and warm environment can worsen an existing inflammation that occurs in diseases such as acne. In addition, the pressure and friction of the mask can rub the skin slightly and cause additional irritation.

However, the wearer with unproblematic skin does not have to fear acne, which is caused by wearing a mask alone.

"Wearing a mask is a tolerable trifle and not doing anything that causes skin problems"

Dermatologist Dr. med. Siegfried Borelli, 2020

Can wearing masks cause other skin irritations?

According to Borelli, wearing masks does not normally lead to any skin problems; after all, the staff in operating theaters wears surgical paper masks on a daily basis and for their working lives, which are also recommended for commuters.

"For people who already have dry skin, the occasional wearing of masks can be a bit uncomfortable," admits the dermatologist. Because by resting the paper mask on, the skin can become even drier. The symptoms of those whose skin is prone to skin changes, redness and inflammation in higher humidity and heat and the resulting sweating can be intensified by wearing a mask, as it accumulates the moisture in the breath.

How can the skin be optimally cared for?

"With a skin care cream that is lipid replenishing," recommends Borelli, "and by that I don't mean the normal day care cream that is just a moisturizing lotion, but one that greases the skin." This could be a conventional care product, regardless of the brand. Thanks to the cream, the skin receives moisture and can thus protect against friction caused by the mask.

If you know that you tend to have sensitive skin, you should apply it to your facial skin before commuting and putting on the protective mask, ideally again before going to bed.

How do you react if deterioration of the skin is observed?

«I definitely advise against cortisone. A cortisone ointment should only be used if massive eczema has developed and a doctor has ordered it to do so, ”says Borelli. If you got skin eczema, you'd better give your skin time to recover.

If the facial skin still deteriorates despite repeated application of lipid-replenishing care products, the expert advises consulting a doctor who will examine the skin in a differentiated manner.

How can dry lips be cared for?

The same applies to lip care: if these are brittle, a greasy lipstick can be included in the care, which, like the moisturizing care cream, is applied shortly before putting on the mask.

Which mask is recommended from a dermatological point of view?

"In general, it should be said that wearing a mask is a tolerable trifle and not doing anything that creates additional skin problems," the doctor notes. Therefore, from a dermatological point of view, the choice of mask should not be based on the skin's needs, but on the virological ones. That is why the dermatologist recommends wearing a surgical mask made of paper or the appropriately approved reusable material masks.

Surgical paper masks, which are now officially recommended, are easy to use and no problem for most of the skin. The dermatologist recommends that those who do not work in the medical field and are trained in wearing masks buy those with elastic bands and not with ties.