As the world opens up post lockdown, wearing a face mask is mandatory in all public spaces. People who work in salons, restaurants, retail stores, and in health care wear masks throughout their shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Ministry recommends wearing masks in public to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus by people who have COVID-19 but don’t realize it.
But as helpful as it is, regular mask use can lead to chafing of the skin on the bridge of your nose, chin, cheeks, and even behind the ears. Some people develop itchiness or a rash. Sweaty or damp conditions under the mask can lead to acne breakouts and other skin concerns. To ease these complications of mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic, try the following steps –
1. Adopt a Regular Skincare Routine
Cleanse and moisturize your face daily before and after using a mask. Choose products labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means they won’t clog skin pores. Be sure to use a gentle cleanser to not irritate the skin.
2. No Petroleum Jelly
Petrolatum is a common ingredient in “heavy-duty” creams and ointments, such as petroleum jelly. It can get in the way of the mask’s function, especially N95 masks used by some health care workers. If your skin tends to be on the oily side, go for a water-soluble lightweight moisturizer.
3. Use a Barrier Ointment or Bandage
Constant rubbing from the fabric can cause rashes and injuries. To prevent or treat this, include products with zinc oxide in your skincare routine. This will soothe and relieve the skin. Zinc oxide is a skin protectant often used for baby powder and sunscreen. Use it on the bridge of your nose and behind your ears.
You can also try placing a bandage between the skin pressure points and the mask. Ask a doctor or pharmacist about bandages or dressings that provide cooling relief while still allowing for appropriate mask use.
4. Ease Blisters
One must take extra care while treating reactions to the skin. If a blister or rash forms, keep it clean and apply antibiotic ointment. Applying too many products can also irritate the injury. Use a bandage to create a protective barrier between the blister and the mask.
5. Treat Acne
If you develop acne, cleanse your skin regularly. Use a water-soluble moisturizer. Look for acne treatment products that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Also, avoid popping or squeezing pimples, which can contribute to inflammation and infection of the area.
6. Wash Your Mask
At the end of the day, it is as important to wash and disinfect your face mask as it is for your face. Give your mask a gentle scrub-down daily to avoid a build-up of bacteria on the cloth which can transfer to your skin.
Continue washing hands and wearing a mask, as these are critical prevention measures against COVID-19. In the meantime, taking the steps described above can help protect your skin. If you develop cracked skin that starts to bleed, blisters turn into ulcers or become infected, or if you have a serious skin reaction, talk to your doctor promptly. Damaged skin can increase your risk of infection and may need more than home care. Treatment may include prescription medicines and skin therapies.