What is MASCNE?
MASCNE is defined by the Urban Dictionary as "the acne breakouts caused by wearing COVID-19 protection masks". The acne breakouts appear under the area covered by the mask. Mascne is a type of acne called Acne Mechanica. Acne mechanica is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing of the skin. This type of acne is usually seen among athletes (from sports equipment e.g. football helmets and shoulder pads), soldiers, and motorbike riders (from wearing helmets). Any occlusion on the skin can cause obstruction of the hair follicle, resulting in comedo formation (whiteheads and blackheads). Because of oil and bacteria build-up, these comedones become inflamed and turn into papules or pustules (the red bumps/pus-filled bumps on the skin).
In a study done last 2006 in Singapore, they found out that 59.6% of the 322 survey responders reported that they developed acne from wearing N95 masks.
(Foo CC, Goon AT, Leow YH, Goh CL. Adverse skin reactions to personal protective equipment against severe acute respiratory syndrome--a descriptive study in Singapore. Contact Dermatitis. 2006;55(5):291‐294. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2006.00953.x)
How can we prevent MASCNE?
- Do not stop wearing your mask! It is one of the most important ways to prevent COVID-19. However, try to wear your masks for shorter periods when possible.
- Wash your face before and after wearing your mask. Cleaning your face before wearing a mask will prevent dirt and oil from clogging your skin. When you remove your mask after you get home, shower and cleanse your face. Be sure to use a cleanser that is suitable for acne-prone skin. Top picks at the clinic are our Tea Tree Soap, Fash Foam Wash, Neostrata Clarifying Cleanser (it has anti-microbial too!), and Teenderm Gel Wash.
- Keep your skin hydrated with a non-greasy moisturizer that contains an anti-inflammatory ingredient, or one that is specifically made for acne-prone skin. This will help prevent breakouts. One of my favorite brands is Acnemoist moisturizer. It is specially designed to suit acne-prone skin as it is non-oily, feather-light, and provides intense hydration without making the skin look oily. Most importantly, it is non-comedogenic (does not block the pores) and is dermatologically tested.
- Avoid wearing makeup while you're wearing a mask. If you really need to wear makeup, use mineral make-up, or if using a liquid foundation, choose one that has light coverage. Don't forget to use a makeup remover to thoroughly remove your make-up. Personally, I love Shu Uemura's cleansing oil. It removes face and eye makeup (also removes waterproof eye makeup) and it also hydrates your skin. However, it is quite expensive and inaccessible, as there are no more Shu Uemura stores in the Philippines. Luckily, I found a local dupe brand - Skin CPR Cleansing Oil Makeup Remover. It effectively removes makeup and impurities while maintaining the skin's natural moisture. It also contains soothing and antibacterial properties that help provide long-lasting skin comfort.
- Do not reuse your disposable masks. If using a cloth mask, wash your mask daily and do not use fabric conditioner.
- Do not skip on your skincare regimen. Exfoliants are your friend, especially RETINOIDS. Retinoids are Vitamin A derivatives that have comedolytic (prevents whiteheads and blackheads) and anti-inflammatory properties. Examples of your retinoids are Retinoic Acid, Tretinoin and Adapalene. These are the ingredients that will help unclog your pores. It's very important to use a moisturizer and sunblock when using retinoids.
How do we treat MASCNE?
- Use a topical antibiotic that can help reduce acne-causing bacteria (called Propionibacterium acnes or P. acnes ) in your skin. The most commonly used topical antibiotics for acne are Erythromycin and Clindamycin. However, increased levels of resistance to P. acnes have been reported. So if you've been using there products without any satisfactory result, maybe its time to change your medicine. Recently, there's a new antibiotic discovered that has no known resistance to P. acnes, this is your Nadifloxacin (Nadixa). It's a very good alternative to your Erythromycin and Clindamycin.
- Don't forget your RETINOIDS. Again, I want to emphasize the importance of retinoids in your acne treatment. This will prevent and treat mascne, and other forms of acne.
Let us help you optimize your skincare regimen to help prevent and treat Mascne and other forms of acne. We carefully selected our medical-grade skincare lineup so that it is effective and affordable to our patients. Message us on how to avail a FREE CONSULTATION.