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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Mum, let’s talk about Maskne


Hundreds of mothers have been struggling with “Maskne” —a new term that was coined during the pandemic to describe acne under facial masks.

Mum, has your chin been looking a lot like a disaster lately? Recently, mother-of-three Nora has been struggling with her new acne.

To put it more precisely, she calls it “maskne.” Nora says, “I thought I was past the age of acne. But suddenly, wearing a mask to work all day has caused me to break out with a bunch of red zits and bumps.”

Many people are experiencing putting their filtered mask on, wearing it while out during the day, and then coming home to a new addition to the breakout squad. It’s the off-tune musical remix you never asked for, and honestly? This acne band is not something that is welcome to perform on your chin. 

There is no arguing that masks are essential, and they have become a 2020 requirement due to the unprecedented coronavirus. Still, it is natural that skin breakouts can leave a person feeling very self-conscious.

Sometimes it is a one-time breakout, other times acne comes in cycles, acne can be consistent for some, and with maskne (the new hybrid term for mask acne) it can continue to increase if changes are not made. Maskne starts with one bump, then two bumps, and the beat just does not stop. Or so you and I think.

According to Dr. Fatema Abbas, board certified dermatologist at Al Shefa Polyclinic, there are wonderful solutions to getting your skin back to the rhythm that you prefer. 

Read also: How blended learning has impacted children and parents over the pandemic.

Dr. Fatema reminds us that in order to avoid infection with the Covid-19 virus, wearing a mask is a must that should be adhered to by everyone. However, it is not preferable to wear a black mask, but it is advised to either wear the surgical masks or a white cotton mask that is filtered.

Dr. Fatema understands wearing the mask for long continuous hours can affect your skin, but she also knows that there are ways to protect your skin from the effects of a mask.  

Every skin type is different so this means that everyone will react differently to material directly on their skin, especially when it is on the face.

Dr. Fatema says that among these reactions are  “exacerbation of acne cases or its appearance in people who do not previously suffer from it, as well as cases of contact dermatitis due to some materials such as rubber.”

She explains that the reason this is caused is due to heat, humidity, closure of skin pores and the induction of the inflammatory mechanism in the area. 

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While this sounds pretty intense, Dr. Fatema offers assurance through helpful prevention tips.

“First, use a suitable face wash for your skin type to clean it and then apply a suitable moisturiser before applying the mask. Also, avoid the use of make-up that increases the closure of the pores.”

She then recommends ventilation of the area from time to time because it is necessary for your skin. Dr. Fatema understands the importance of allowing your skin to breathe. Her recommendation for if you are outdoors is to move away from people and remove the mask every hour to allow ventilation of the area for several minutes. 

Allergies are common, but if your skin reacts to a medical mask then there are things you can do.

“When an allergy occurs to a medical mask, you can use a white cotton mask and wash it with hot water after each use. However, if any problem such as acne or eczema appears, a dermatologist must be consulted to prescribe the appropriate treatment for the condition according to its type and severity.” 

While it can be easy to forget to replace your mask, Dr. Fatema reminds us that it is important to replace the mask every four hours if you are wearing it consecutively. It is also important to replace your mask after each use and to always wear a clean one for the sake of your skin. 

Mum, self-care is important so try to treat yourself to a dermatologist appointment when you need or want to improve your skin.

You don’t have to battle your maskne or even acne alone. While it might feel shocking to suffer from maskne when you least expect it, Dr. Fatema is here to assure us that there is hope for brighter skin and healthier pores. 

Chereen Shurafa is a mental health counsellor

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