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What is 'maskne' and how to treat it

Local dermatologists are seeing an increase of acne caused by wearing a face mask for long periods of time.

BENTONVILLE, Ark — While many of us are wearing a face mask to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19, there’s an unintended side effect.

It’s something called “maskne,” the name was given to acne caused by wearing a mask for long periods of time.

If the battle against a global pandemic wasn’t enough, for the first time in years some people are once again fighting breakouts on their faces.

“After returning to work within the first week I started getting a lot of dryness and irritation to my skin especially the top part of where the mask was coming across the bridge of my nose," Lindsey Elkins of Bentonville said.

It may be an occupational hazard for folks like Elkins who work in the medical field and wear a mask for up to 10 hours a day, but it’s something that can impact anyone.

“I hadn’t struggled with it since I was probably a teenager. Didn’t really have much problematic," Elkins said.

So what causes “maskne”?

“What’s happening is we’re trapping all the oil moisture under the skin and the humidity from wearing the mask all day which causes things like bacteria and yeast to overgrow and causes irritation, bumps and even rashes," said Adrienne Easterling, Physician's Assistant at Premier Dermatology.

Medical professionals have seen a steady increase in cases of this type of acne. Luckily there are ways to treat it.

“Cleanse your face daily using something that helps exfoliate like a salicylic acid cleanser. For example, Neutrogena has one you can find over the counter," Easterling said.

Dermatologists say wearing a mask for safety against COVID-19 is still recommended.

“If you’re putting on a dirty mask every day then you’re probably going to see more breakouts from it so it’s just important to clean your mask," Easterling said.

Dermatologists say spot treatments with benzoyl peroxide and shampoo to control yeast overgrowth can also help fight “maskne” Many of them are available over the counter at most drug stores.

They say if your outbreak is severe you should talk to a dermatologist.

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