mask acne - woman wearing mask giving thumbs down

What’s the Deal with Mask Acne?

As masks became part of our lives during the pandemic, many people have to wear them for long hours at work. After hours of wearing masks, people started noticing acne specifically around their mouths. Dermatologists are warning us that this mask acne – or maskne – has become the new acne.

You’re probably familiar with classical acne. It’s a common condition that affects millions of teenagers and adults. However, very few know that mask ace is a real problem, not just a myth or complaint.

Mask acne is not true acne, but rather a term that describes skin changes related to the use of a mask. Mask acne includes several skin conditions aggravated by wearing a mask. This includes worsening of acne, rosacea, allergic reactions like contact dermatitis, and hair follicle infections.

mask acne - woman pointing to pimple on chin

Signs and Symptoms of Mask Acne

Signs and symptoms of mask acne will depend on the underlying condition. Overall, friction against skin triggers symptoms like irritation, inflammation, blocked pores, and breakouts. One cause is from the skin being moist beneath the mask from trapped sweat.

The most affected areas of mask acne include:

  • Cheeks
  • Nose
  • Chin
  • Mouth
  • Jaw

Those with acne may notice more pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, and irritation.
Someone with rosacea may experience inflamed red skin with pimples and more flare-ups.

Those with contact dermatitis have more sensitive skin. Therefore, the mask will further aggravate this sensitivity and cause irritation and blisters.

Aggravated hair follicle infections, like folliculitis, lead to acne-like breakouts. These breakouts are often itchy and painful.

mask acne - blue surgical mask

Which Mask is Best for Preventing Mask Acne?

There are a variety of face masks people wear to protect from COVID-19. These include N95, surgical masks, and homemade cloth masks. There is no research to state which one prevents mask acne, but let’s look at the pros and cons.

Many believe N95 masks are more effective than surgical masks to prevent infections. This is largely due to the filtering effect of large and small particles. So, they are great for keeping healthy.

The blue surgical masks are widely available and one of the most comfortable to wear. They are still protective, just not as much as the N95.

The effectiveness of homemade masks varies greatly since they’re made without regulations. Overall, these masks are the least effective when it comes to preventing infections.

However, homemade masks could be the best choice for those suffering from mask acne. This is due to using materials like cotton and breathable fabrics.

N95 and surgical masks are treated with chemicals that can cause allergic reactions and skin inflammation. The main culprits of these reactions are formaldehyde, quaternium-15, and ethylene urea melamine formaldehyde.

The most common symptoms from mask allergies include:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness of the skin
  • Blisters

Interestingly, even the elastic straps around the ears can cause allergic reactions too.

Mask Acne Prevention and Treatments

There are some ways you can prevent getting mask acne while wearing face masks.
Make sure to wash your reusable mask regularly. Use hypoallergenic soap and detergents. Avoid using disinfectants and other chemicals on it. Fabrics with dye can also cause irritation. Choose natural fabrics with cotton and bamboo.

Use hypoallergenic products to wash your face regularly. We recommend washing it in the morning, before and after wearing your mask, and in the evening. This will keep it clean and prevent acne and infections.

Since masks impact our breathing patterns, they can increase dehydration. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Carefully choose moisturizers and use non-comedogenic products to avoid blocking pores. Use these moisturizers before putting on your mask.

Wear your mask when it’s necessary. If you’re alone outside, there’s no need for it. Experts recommend removing your mask every four hours for 15 minutes.

If after trying these prevention methods you still have mask acne, there are some treatments you can try. Over-the-counter products like topical corticosteroids help reduce inflammation. Antibiotic creams are useful in case of bacterial infections too.

mask acne - woman pointing to her mouth smiling with teeth

Managing Mask Mouth

Mask mouth is another condition people experience when wearing a mask for so long. The condition was first noticed by dentists. It’s described as an inflammation of the mouth, especially of the gums.

Wearing masks for long hours decreases our saliva and disturbs the normal flora in our mouth. This increases the risk of mouth inflammation and infections.

Symptoms of mask mouth include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tooth decay

It’s important to maintain proper oral care. Brush your teeth, floss, and visit your dentist regularly. Chewing gum can also help, especially aspartame-free gum with added probiotics.


While we may be wearing face masks for a little while longer during this pandemic, there are ways to prevent mask acne. Remember to keep your skin clean and moisturized.

If mask acne symptoms get worse, visit your doctor or dermatologist for medical advice and further treatment.

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