Mask Related Flare-ups? Here's what to do

By LUSTRE Team Blue Light Therapy

During the Covid pandemic, the practice of wearing a mask in the UK has become one of the new expected “norms”.

For many of us, our masks are worn only occasionally, but in several professions (such as retail, hospitality and healthcare) they need to wear one for much of the working day. Especially with prolonged mask wearing, the health of facial skin has been shown to suffer; one study of medical school staff found adverse skin reactions in 54% of over 800 people studied. Contact (allergic) dermatitis was the most frequent reaction but acne is also common; not only can there be a worsening in people with a previous history, but it can arise for the first time under a mask. With this new precedence setting in, there has since been a great deal of media coverage on the subject, with ample advice on the matter - for example Dr Portia Goldsmith on the BBC: Covid: How to alleviate skin problems caused by wearing a face covering.

drawbacks of mask wearing
The recent increase in susceptibility to acne is thought to be threefold:
  • The mask creates a warm and humid “micro-climate” for bugs to multiply
  • Bacteria on the surface of the nose and mouth can readily spread to surrounding skin
  • Friction from the mask can cause chronic skin irritation 
Bearing in mind the factors that can contribute to “maskne”, the following are our strategies that can reduce the risk/severity of acne flare-ups:
    • Cleanse skin with a gentle soap-free cleanser
    • Apply a light, non-comedogenic (non-pore blocking) moisturiser at least 30 minutes before donning mask
    • Take regular breaks from the mask to relieve the pressure and prevent moisture build up
    • Maintain oral hygiene (teeth brushing twice daily and daily interdental flossing/ brushing)
    • Frequent change of disposable mask – every 4 hours if possible
    • Daily washing of non-disposable mask and allow to air dry
    • Take time to fit the mask and ensure it is not overtight
    • Avoid wearing make-up under the mask
    • Replace dry shaving with wet shaving
    • Don’t forget to use your LUSTRE® ClearSkin device on a regular basis if flare-ups occur.
    Dr Sam Robson, Temple Clinic Aberdeen
    Dr Robson is the Medical Director of Temple Clinic in Aberdeen. She and Temple Clinic have won many awards over the years, most recently the 2020 Society Award for Fitness, Health and Wellbeing Award. Dr Robson is the main creator and CEO of Temple Vie Weight Loss and Lifestyle change programme. Temple Vie exemplifies her commitment to evidence-based medicine and she brings this same approach to managing skin conditions. She is actively involved in the research and development of new technology/ concepts to provide safe and effective treatments to her patients.

    Over the course of her 28 years of practice, at first as a General Practitioner (GP), Dr Robson has become progressively aware of the need to integrate the physical, psychological and social aspects of patient care. This view has been reinforced by her qualifying in 2020 as a Lifestyle Medicine Physician, and lifestyle factors influence her view of many medical conditions. When considering problem skin, for example, the interactive effects of diet, exercise, stress and social factors are at the forefront of her holistic approach.

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