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COVID19 mask irritations and what to do

Now that the weather has turned chilly, masks might feel less irritating or even desirable when the wind picks up. However, many people are still dealing with mask-related skin irritation, especially patients who already have a condition like rosacea, acne, or eczema. There are ways to combat this.

Wearing a mask means that everything on the mask is also touching your face, including makeup, mucus, oil, and sweat – all of which can irritate the skin. To prevent these types of issues, wash masks regularly and protect them from contact with anything that could be irritating. Encourage patients to dry their masks in the dryer and to use a gentle soap, if any. If makeup is the culprit, this could be an ideal time to take a break from makeup on the lower face.

Mask fit and fabric could cause skin irritations. Ideally, masks should fit properly and made of a smooth fabric. Loose masks cause more friction with your skin because they move as you move. Tight masks are no better, so it’s important to choose a mask with adjustable straps.

Good general hygiene will help. That could include changing the patient’s skin care regimen as some products could actually cause mask irritation. For new patients, it’ll be helpful to know their treatment history as well as mask hygiene habits.

In the rare case a patient is allergic to their mask, the remedy may be as simple as changing the type of mask or how the mask is being washed.

Men may find their masks get caught on their beard stubble and cause irritation that way. Schedule permitting, a midday shave may be the easiest solution. Changing to a mask made of a high thread count fabric could also work. If they don’t have to wear an N95, growing a beard could also reduce the friction.

N95 masks are the most likely to cause visible irritation, but these ideas could help.

  • For specific pain points, apply a very thin layer of zinc oxide to the areas with the most friction. This will protect your skin without affecting the effectiveness of these masks.
  • Rinse your face with just water immediately after removing the mask and apply a moisturizer if necessary.
  • Organize your work schedule so you can spend the least amount of time possible wearing a mask.

Finding the balance between mask effectiveness and healthy skin could take a few attempts, but there is a solution out there.