Maskne: How To Treat & Prevent Mask-related Acne Breakouts?

Masks have been a part of our daily outfit for almost a year. All of us need to wear masks in several public places, including grocery stores, restaurants, to protect ourselves from the novel coronavirus that spreads through respiratory droplets. 

If you are experiencing acne breakouts from wearing masks, trust me, you aren’t alone. This is a condition commonly referred to as “maskne,” which is a typical side effect of wearing masks for a long time. 

However, maskne doesn’t only cause pimples. It may also lead to certain skin problems, including redness, irritation, and bumpiness. 

Are you also worried about maskne? If yes, you’ve landed in the most appropriate place! Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about masks, including their causes, treatment, and prevention. 

Some Common Maskne Skin Conditions

Maskne is a general term used to describe several skin conditions caused due to wearing a face mask or covering. These conditions include:

  • Acne: It occurs when your skin pores get clogged with oil, dirt, or dead skin cells. It may cause you to develop pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads. 
  • Contact Dermatitis: It occurs when you are sensitive or allergic to the fabric of your mask. It can cause a red rash, along with blisters and irritation. 
  • Rosacea: If you already have rosacea and you tend to wear a face mask, it may cause flare-ups. It may cause redness and pimples.
  • Folliculitis: It is an infection of your hair follicles which causes bumps that appear like an acne breakout. You may also experience some pain or itchiness on the affected site.

Now, if you already have any of these conditions, you are more susceptible to developing maskne.

What Causes Maskne?

Maskne can be caused due to various skin conditions, and so causes and symptoms may differ. In the majority of cases, maskne is caused due to clogged pores. We already have bacteria, oil, dirt, and dead cells on our skin. However, when we wear a mask or a face covering, these substances can accumulate and clog our skin pores. It also entraps humidity because of breathing and sweating, and thus increases the risk of developing acne. 

Friction can be yet another cause for acne breakouts. The fabric of a face mask or covering can rub against your skin, causing irritation and chafing.  Chafing is a common skin condition caused due to any combination of moisture, friction, and irritating fabrics.

Otherwise, you may be allergic or sensitive to the material of your face mask. Some masks feel rough on the skin or are pre-treated with certain chemicals. Wearing a face mask that has been washed in a scented detergent may also cause irritation or acne breakouts.

Also Read: How To Choose The Right Face Mask For Protection Against Coronavirus? 

How Can You Prevent Maskne?

  • Washcloth masks after each use: Make sure you don’t use a face mask without first washing it. You should use an unscented, hypoallergenic detergent and allow it to dry completely.
  • Use a topical antibiotic cream: Bacteria can accumulate underneath your face mask and develop acne. Dermatologists suggest applying a topical antibiotic cream on your face before wearing a face mask to prevent acne
  • Discard disposable face masks after each use: Don’t use disposable masks more than once. Keep several masks handy in case you require a fresh one. 
  • Apply moisture before wearing a face mask: A face mask can drain the moisture of your skin, leading to irritation. A non-comedogenic moisturizer will help keep your skin hydrated. When you apply moisturizer on your face, it acts as a barrier between your skin and the face mask.
  • Take a break from your face masks every four hours: Give your skin a break by removing your face mask for 15 minutes every four hours. Make sure to wear a mask at a time when you can maintain social distancing from others in your workplace or household. Also, wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer before taking a mask break. 
  • Choose the right mask: There are various types of masks, but not all of them are suitable for you. To prevent skin problems, you must wear the right type of face mask. 

Consider wearing a mask that has two or more layers of fabric, fits correctly (not too tight or too loose), and is made up of soft, natural fabric (for example, cotton). Maks made of rayon, nylon, or any other synthetic materials can irritate your skin.

  • Wash your face after removing a face mask: Once you are back home from work or any other public place, wash your face with a gentle cleanser. If you have hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating, washing your face becomes even more important. 

How Is Maskne Treated?

  • Wash your face frequently: This pandemic has made us rediscover the importance of washing our hands and face frequently to reduce the risk of virus transmission. Follow a skincare routine that includes washing your face:
  • Once in the morning
  • Once after sweating or wearing a face mask
  • Once at night before you go to sleep
  • Use lukewarm water to wash your face: Pat your skin dry using a clean towel. Please don’t rub your skin while you wash your face, as it may irritate.
  • Apply a gentle cleanser: You can use a gentle cleanser to remove excess sweat, dirt, or oil. Don’t use a cleanser that contains perfume or alcohol. These constituents can cause skin irritation and make it very challenging for your symptoms to recover. 

In severe cases of maskne, you can try using a medicated cleanser with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. In case your skin is sensitive, kindly ask your doctor regarding the best type of medicated cleanser for you.

  • Apply cortisone cream and moisturizer with ceramides: If your maskne generally causes irritation and raw skin, you can consider applying mild cortisone cream to the region together with a moisturizer that contains ceramides. This can help shield your skin and reduce itching and irritation.
  • Use a non-comedogenic moisturizer: After you wash your face, apply a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated. Using a non-comedogenic moisturizer would be beneficial as it won’t clog your pores.
  • Avoid using makeup products: While treating maskne, you should avoid using any cosmetics. Makeup products, including concealer, foundation, blush, etc., can block your pores and extend the healing process.  


Maskne or mask-related acne breakouts are common and occur due to prolonged usage of face masks. Symptoms may include irritation, chafing, pimple-like small bumps if you have dermatitis or rosacea. 

Maskne can be distressing, but you can’t give up on wearing face masks in this pandemic time. There are numerous ways by which you can prevent and treat your maskne, including wearing the right type of mask, using a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated, frequent face washing, etc. 

Try the tips mentioned in this post if you develop mask-related acne. If your symptoms persist or don’t recover with time, talk to your healthcare specialist, or dermatologist for more specific care.

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Janet Fudge

Janet Fudge writes on general health topics for She holds a post-graduate diploma in Public Health with a major in epidemiology. During the outbreak of COVID-19, Janet actively volunteered in vaccination drives throughout the state of Iowa. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two children.