Struggling with mask acne? Here’s what doctors say you should do

ATLANTA — When masks became a wardrobe staple in this pandemic, many didn’t know the face coverings would also bring acne.

Forsyth County dermatologist Dr. Nathan Cleaver said ‘maskne’ is brought on by long periods of mask wearing, but there are ways to keep your skin from suffering.

Cleaver said it affects all skin types and all ages.

“It’s wearing out my skin, that’s for sure,” said Cyntra Gibson.

Her work keeps Gibson in a mask for at least eight hours a day. The result: acne.

“Around the side of my mouth here a little bit of breakout and some very dry skin continuing to flake off,” said Gibson.

Cleaver said ‘maskne’ patients began popping up in April. Friction on the face was an issue as were the masks themselves.


“It really allows the accumulation of oil to stay on the skin,” Cleaver said. “Then you have the pressure of the mask really pushing the oil into the skin including the follicles. That’s really what causes the breakouts to begin.”

To avoid the blemishes, Cleaver recommends to change your mask daily and let your skin breathe when possible. Use a gentle cleanser and remember to moisturize. These steps help keep skin clear.

The tip he most enjoys sharing is spraying salicylic acid inside the mask.

“That can really help prevent the oil from accumulation while you’re wearing that mask every day," Cleaver said.

While cotton masks may allow your skin to breathe more, Cleaver warns you may sacrifice some protection. For more serious cases, like Gibson’s, he has prescribed Retinol, used sparingly, to help the skin turn over quicker.