Dermatologists: Wearing a face mask may lead to skin problems

(U.S. Dermatology Partners photo)
(U.S. Dermatology Partners photo)(KWTX)
Published: Apr. 30, 2020 at 11:11 PM CDT
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Wearing a face mask is still voluntary, however, it can come with some involuntary--and unexpected--consequences: skin problems.

In addition to stress caused by COVID-19, dermatologists say wearing a mask every day can be bad for your skin.

“If you choose to wear a mask, you may need to take a little better care of your skin,” said Dr. Greg Walker with U.S. Dermatology Partners in Waco.

Walker says most mask-wearers will do just fine but some, especially those prone to acne-type issues, need to take their skin into consideration.

“Due to the pressing on the face and rubbing of the mask, they could get a little more irritation or, perhaps, clogged pores," said Walker. "Some people who might be allergic to materials in the mask could have a rash caused just from contact with the mask."

"And then of course females, for example, who might wear makeup, might find their pores are a little more clogged just from the pressure of the masks as well," he said.

There's ways to address those problems, however.

Walker recommends people clean their face before they put on a mask and after they take it off to remove oil and dead skin cells.

“Sometimes the mask can actually put pressure on those areas and cause what we call a collision where the pores get clogged up," said Walker. "So washes like salicylic based washes...there’s of course many over the counter products with salicylic acid, these can all help remove the oils and the dead cells and minimize that risk.”

Another reason to monitor your skin: there have been reports of coronavirus-caused rashes.

“Viruses in general are all known to cause rashes on the skin," said Walker. "This one is kind of a non-specific rash, just redness and issues often all over the body."

He says the rash usually comes with other symptoms.

"So If you have a new rash or you’ve had recent symptoms, fevers, things like that, then certainly, considering a new rash in the context of COVID-19, you should be aware that is a possible presenting feature," said Walker.

The stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic alone are enough to produce negative skin reactions.

"Stress can cause inflammation of the skin, and stress can worsen skin condition like acne and rosacea and dermatitis can flare with stress," said Walker. "If you’re prone to get these conditions, yes, you may need to take a little better care of your skin, with cleansing it before and after, using light weight moisturizers so as not to clog the pores."

People may want to think twice before wearing makeup and a mask.

"If you're going to wear a mask, don't put makeup underneath where your mask will be pressing because it will force that makeup into the pores and clog them," said Walker.

Although skin issues shouldn't be ignored, Walker says the benefits of wearing a mask outweigh the risks.