Dealing with mask-ne


Wearing a mask is an essential part of everyone’s school day ensemble. You have it on for seven hours of the day, which can cause discomfort around your face and ears. While you’re keeping yourself and your peers safe from the spread of COVID-19, a persistent problem with acne can arise.

Dealing with acne is a difficult enough challenge for teenagers. People who haven’t had acne issues before the mask mandate are finding themselves struggling with zits on their face.

“Since the mask mandate, I have developed painful, itchy, almost cystic acne,” senior Hannah Bigrigg said. “I ended up having to see a dermatologist, which was a struggle because very few accepted my health insurance.”

The reason why students are more acne-prone when wearing a mask for seven hours a day seems obvious on the surface: a piece of cloth is touching your face and clogs your pores with bacteria and dirt. However, washing their cloth masks everyday does not seem to be keeping their skin clear. Another large factor is sweat and humidity.

“It is not surprising that masks have caused acne for many, as bacteria on your skin thrive in humidity, which the mask inevitably creates,” Bigrigg said. “Sweating and oil production are increased under masks, which can promote the clogging of pores- causing acne or small pimples. A lot of my knowledge comes from my dermatologist, but I also frequently research this stuff on my own, as I plan to become a dermatologist myself.”

Since there is no true way to avoid the heat created by the masks, students everywhere are looking for a solution to clear their skin.

While Bigrigg made the decision to see a dermatologist, it’s not always necessary for everyone. Sometimes all they need is to try over-the-counter products.

“Active ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and/or glycolic acid can be helpful in regards to evening skin tone and texture, as well as preventing breakouts,” Bigrigg said.

Face washes will always say they have salicylic, benzoyl, or glycolic acid in them on the bottle. Brands such as Neutrogena, CeraVe, Cetaphil, and L’Óréal Paris can be found in the drugstore. Washing your face twice a day also makes a huge difference rather than washing it once.

It’s also important to have moisturizer, which can also be found in drugstores. With winter approaching, keeping your skin hydrated is essential for it to be healthy and less acne-prone.

Another useful means of keeping your skin acne-free is washing your pillowcases every two weeks. Over time, pillowcases will absorb the dirt from your skin and retain it. Sleeping on an unclean pillowcase is just as bad as wearing an unwashed face mask all day.

 While some people may only be suffering with acne since the mask mandate was put into place, keeping a consistent routine may prove to be beneficial, even when the mandate is lifted.

“I was prescribed a face wash called SulfaCleanse, a topical gel called aczone, and an antibiotic called doxycycline that I take twice daily,” Bigrigg said. “This has been working really well for me. I plan to continue using the face wash and topical gel even after the mask mandate, but the antibiotics are just temporary.”

Acne can also be caused by stress. With the state of the world — the upcoming election, the pandemic, returning to school — it can be dangerously simple to slip into an anxious state. Seeing pimples appear on your face can spur that emotion on. However, it’s important to remember that acne is no reason to worry.

“Acne is normal,” Bigrigg said. “There’s nothing gross, unhygienic, or abnormal about it. No one else notices it as much as yourself and it does not take away from anyone’s beauty.”

If you are having problems with your skin and acne, use some simple methods to start improving the clearness of your skin, such as washing your face twice a day, moisturizing, and staying hydrated. If you are having painful and persistent acne, consider contacting a dermatologist.