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Care for your face under the mask

Wearing a face mask — while important — can be uncomfortable and aggravate skin. According to health.com April 14, masks that offer protection against viruses like COVID-19 can be surgical grade, handsewn or makeshift — a T-shirt or bandana — and they may still irritate some skin types.

Steps to keeping irritation at bay include:

‒ Washing facial skin with a gentle cleanser after the mask is removed so that food debris, sweat and spittle are eliminated. The water should be warm, not hot.
‒ Applying a moisturizer made with skin barrier-boosting ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. Health.com informed: “Constant rubbing and friction from everyday mask use can compromise our skin’s barrier, resulting in dryness, bruises and scrapes from various mask textiles.”
‒ Adding to irritated areas a protective ointment before bedtime; petroleum jelly works well.

Intermountain Healthcare, which provides hospital and other medical services in Utah and Idaho, shared April 10 that frequent wearers of face masks may experience more occurrences of acne breakouts. Plus, “hot and humid temperatures can also flare red pimples and blood vessels on your cheeks and nose known as rosacea.”

Intermountain recommended sufferers avoid harsh scrubs or irritating agents that might contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, and instead use gentle non-comedogenic face cleansers such as Dove sensitive skin bar soap, Cetaphil gentle cleanser or CeraVe hydrating cleanser.

Some mask wearers may experience an itchy rash, called dermatitis, which is usually cleared up with a topical steroid such as 1% hydrocortisone.

“However, allergic reaction to formaldehydes, metals, rubbers or glues in masks may also develop,” explained Intermountain Healthcare.

People who develop hives from wearing masks should contact an allergist or dermatologist.

Mask wearers may need to try different types of masks made of different materials to learn which ones do not cause adverse reactions to skin.