A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported a 97% rate of skin damage as a result of infection-prevention measures among front line medical workers in Hubei, China.

The problems associated with masks were acne, contact dermatitis, irritant dermatitis and moisture-related dermatitis around the mouth from breath or saliva. Now that wearing a mask is mandatory in many countries, here are some suggestions on how you can reduce the side effects caused by wearing them for prolonged periods of time.

Adopt A Good Skin care Routine

The most important thing you can do to prevent breakouts, clogged pores and irritation is to keep your skin clean and well moisturized. Start off by using a gentle pH-balanced cleanser before and especially after wearing a mask to remove oil, dirt, and germs.

Use a gentle pH balancing toner or a splash of soothing rose water before your moisturiser, and be sure to apply an unscented, gel-type moisturizer soon after your toner, as your skin is better able to absorb the products applied when it is slightly damp.

When selecting a moisturizer, pick one that is fragrance-free and lightweight (if you are living in a hot or humid environment) with SPF protection and be sure that it clearly states that it is noncomedogenic.

Skin Care With Anti-inflammatory Ingredients

For those with acne or irritation or breakouts around the mouth, products with anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide, turmeric, or azelaic acid can help the irritation subside.

Skip The Makeup

Since most of your face is covered by the mask, take a break from products like foundation, concealer and powder, as these products can clog pores, cause irritation and excessive sweating. If you really need to apply makeup, opt for brow product, mascara and a moisturising lipbalm or oil instead.

Now Is Not The Time To Skimp On Personal Hygeine And Common sense

There is no better time than now to be extra clean. Other than for ensuring that your face is clean before putting on your mask and after taking it off, be sure to also wash your hands with soap and water whenever you can and especially before touching your person.

If you have a choice, opt for soap and water over hand sanitiser and be sure to responsibly dispose of your used mask so it does not infect you or others around you.

If you are using a reusable mask, be sure to wash it daily with your regular laundry detergent (you can even put it into your washing machine in a general wash) after every use and replace it when the fabric starts to looks a bit worn.

The objective of wearing a mask is to protect yourself and those around you from droplets and infection and if the fabric is worn out, so will the protection that it offers.

If you have sensitive or acne prone skin, be sure to choose masks made out of natural fabrics like cotton, over synthetics. A 2013 study published in the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, found that tea towels, antimicrobial pillowcases, and cotton-blend fabrics were more effective at filtering out small particles than 100% cotton T-shirt fabric, a scarf, and silk, so you might want to select a mask where the silk or cotton lining is against your face to minimise irritation while a thicker, more denser woven water-proof fabric is at the front to keep you protected from droplets.

We hope these tips help keep your skin breakout-free and happy while we learn to navigate the new normal that we have found ourselves in. Stay safe everyone!