Maskne: How to Prevent and Treat Acne Due to Wearing a Mask - Dr. Axe

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A Serious Case of ‘Maskne’: How to Prevent & Treat Face Acne Due to Wearing a Mask


Maskne - Dr. Axe

Many of us are getting used to rocking a mask or face covering throughout the day, when shopping, working or in public places, and perhaps, by now, you’ve noticed breakouts around your nose and mouth. Well, it turns out you’re dealing with “maskne,” a new term used to describe acne caused by wearing a mask.

You know that sweaty, sticky, humid feeling you get after wearing a mask for a few hours? Yeah — it’s really a breeding ground for oil and bacteria that can clog your pores and cause breakouts.

But worry not, there are certainly home remedies for acne that you can use to improve maskne and keep your skin looking fresh — even if no one can see it.

What Is Maskne?

The scientific term for maskne is acne mechanica. It’s a specific form of acne that’s triggered by friction or pressure on the skin from heavy clothing or protective gear.

If you’ve been wearing a mask throughout the day, you may notice breakouts in areas that the mask meets your skin, like your nose, cheeks and chin.


In addition to maskne, wearing a tight-fitting mask for multiple hours a day can also lead to eczema or dry, itchy skin.

Why Do Masks Enhance Breakouts?

Why does wearing a mask lead to increased breakouts? For starters, the mask traps sweat, dirt, oil and humidity, which are stuck on your skin throughout the day.

When bacteria forms under your mask, it can be pushed into the skin with friction, which is caused by the mask being pressed onto your face. This causes increased inflammation and can trigger acne.

How to Prevent/Treat It

1. Wash Your Face

Be sure to wash your face before putting on a mask and after taking it off. This reduces the amount of bacteria that lingers and can cause breakouts.

Opt for a face cleanser that won’t dry out or irritate your skin.

This Homemade Honey Face Mask works to cleanse the skin without the use of harsh chemicals. It’s made with apple cider vinegar, honey, coconut oil and essential oils.

If you’re shopping for a face wash, read the ingredient labels carefully and avoid any products containing common offenders, like aluminum, retinyl acetate, parabens and polyethylene.

2. Exfoliate

Removing dead skin cells and lurking bacteria from your face is key for preventing and treating maskne. The best way to do that is to exfoliate your skin’s surface at least once a week in order to remove buildup and unclog your pores.

You can easily make your own exfoliator at home with ingredients in the kitchen.

You’ll need a gritty ingredient, like sea salt, brown sugar or ground oatmeal. Then you’ll need your base, like coconut oil.

Mix them together and massage it into your skin gently. Then rinse and pat dry.

3. Use a Natural Moisturizer

Moisturizing your skin before putting on a mask does two things: It prevents dryness and itchiness that sometimes occur when wearing a tight-fitted mask, and it creates a physical barrier that protects your skin from bacteria.


Coconut oil is an excellent skin moisturizer, and it contains lauric acid, which has displayed antibacterial effects. Simply warm coconut oil in your hands and massage it into your skin.

Remember that a little goes a long way.

You can also add essential oils for acne to your moisturizer for their antibacterial, nourishing properties. Lavender is a gentle, healing option that can be combined with any carrier oil and applied to your face.

4. Go Light on Makeup

To get rid of pimples that are popping up under your mask, try going light on your makeup for a while. If you usually apply foundation or bronzer to your nose, cheeks and chin, consider skipping it on the days you’ll wear a mask for an extended period of time.

Wearing a mask for a quick trip into the supermarket shouldn’t have a major impact, but if you wear it for many hours and have foundation on underneath, it can trap bacteria into your pores and make your maskne worse.

5. Cut Out Acne-Promoting Foods

If you’re experiencing breakouts, even if it’s from mask-wearing, your skin will thank you when you cut out the most common acne-promoting foods. The biggest culprits include sugar, highly processed foods, fried foods, conventional dairy and alcoholic beverages.

Be sure to consume plenty of nutrient-rich, colorful and whole foods. Some of the best foods for acne include probiotic-rich foods, high-fiber foods, organic proteins (like grass-fed beef, organic chicken and wild-caught salmon) and foods high in vitamin A (like spinach, kale, carrots and sweet potatoes).

6. Take Probiotics

You’ve probably heard of probiotics for digestion and gut health, but what about cystic acne? Research suggests that both oral and topical probiotics hold potential in the treatment of acne, as well as slowing signs of aging skin.

7. Use a Clean Mask

Don’t get into the habit of leaving your mask in the car or bag and wearing it again and again throughout the week.

Guess what’s happening inside that seemingly clean mask? Bacteria buildup, big time.

Then it goes back on your face, re-exposing it to bacteria, moisture and dead skin cells. This is a recipe for acne.

If you have a cloth mask, wash it after every use. Maybe get two to three of them so that you can switch it up.

If you use disposable masks, grab a new one for a new day.

Risks and Side Effects

While maske is proving to be a real thing these days, keep in mind that there are other lifestyle and dietary factors that contribute to breakouts.

If you notice pimples in places beyond your nose, cheeks and chin, it may be caused by increased stress, dietary changes or spending too much time in the sun. Either way, many of these preventative measures will work to improve your breakouts, but do make sure to prioritize self-care during these difficult times.


  • Maskne is a new term for a condition called acne mechanica. It’s a specific form of acne that’s triggered by friction or pressure on the skin from heavy clothing or protective gear. In this case, it’s caused by wearing a mask or face covering.
  • When you wear a mask for an extended period of time, moisture, oil, dirt and bacteria can build up underneath and cause breakouts around your nose, cheeks and chin.
  • Using gentle, natural approaches for preventing and treating acne will work to ease your maske. Make sure to keep your skin clean, moisturized and makeup-free when possible. Don’t forget about your diet, taking probiotics, and never wearing a dirty or used mask.

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