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There is no denying the fact that the covid-19 pandemic has caused quite a stir in all our lives. By ‘quite a stir’, we mean the stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems that are getting triggered by the continuous media coverage of negative news, job insecurity, financial problems, pay cuts, staying locked in, the uncertainty about the ending of the pandemic, the fear of contracting the coronavirus, and an increasing number of conflicts with our romantic partners amongst many other reasons.
Now, if all these reasons weren’t enough to cause extreme stress, the pandemic has found another way to show its effects on our face.
“In this era of the novel coronavirus, a novel skin problem is emerging as well,” says Dr Saurabh Shah, dermatologist, Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai.
What problem, now?
According to Dr Shah, maskne is the new acne that has managed to creep into our lives due to the pandemic.
“As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have to wear a face mask whilst stepping out to buy essentials or going to work. This leaves the underlying skin sticky, sweaty, greasy, and itchy,” Dr Shah points out.
“The increasing number of acne breakouts are coming to notice due to pore-clogging by the mechanical pressure of the mask in contact with the skin for longer hours,” he adds.
What is maskne?
“Also known by the scientific term “acne mechanica,” maskne is a type of acne that is caused by friction or pressure on the skin. Presently, the increasing incidences of maskne are attributed to wearing protective gear, in this case, a face mask which is either disposable or cloth-based,” Dr Shah explains.
“In addition to itchy and irritated skin, wearing a mask for longer hours can cause acne breakouts. The breakout is experienced particularly in areas where the mask is in close proximity with your skin, such as the bridge and the sides of your nose, cheeks, and chin,” he adds.
According to Dr Shah, the reason behind this is the mask trapping sweat, dirt, and oil which are stuck on your skin all through the day. This happens because the bacteria formed under the mask keep getting pushed into the skin through friction caused by the mask.
This interplay of friction, infection, and inflammation results in acne mechanica or maskne.
So, how can we prevent maskne?
Dr Shah says that there are certain steps we can take to steer clear of breakouts:
1. Use a clean mask.
2. Wash your face with a gentle, moisturizing face wash.
3. Gentle exfoliation could help. However, do not vigorously rub or scrub your skin dry with bathing brushes or loofahs.
4. Avoid acne-causing foods ( i.e., foods with a high glycaemic index or foods which are rich in refined sugars and carbs such as sweets, chocolates, cold drinks, ice creams, cheese, butter, and fried foods) .
5. Add some natural probiotics like curd and buttermilk in your daily diet to improve your gut microbiome and immunity.
6. You may need to consult your dermatologist to prescribe you some topical or systemic antibiotics, if need be.
Wearing a mask is the most important protocol to save yourself from this pandemic but make sure you follow the steps suggested by Dr Shah to take care of your skin as well.