Rashes. Breakouts. How to treat common side effects of wearing masks.

This spring’s hottest accessory — literally — is something Vogue and beauty bloggers weren’t predicting months ago: face masks. 

As states across America ease restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, many people are choosing to leave home with masks or some type of facial covering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people help slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a cloth covering that fits snugly against the side of the face, can be secured with ties or ear loops and has multiple layers of fabric. For people doing that correctly, it means their nose, mouth and chin area is covered, and if you’re prone to breakouts or rashes, that’s certainly not ideal — especially as temperatures rise. But that shouldn’t deter you from following the CDC’s suggested guidelines. Yahoo Life consulted with famed dermatologist Dr. Harold Lancer, of Lancer Dermatology, about how to take care of your skin while covering most of your face.

Lancer, who has helped stars like Kim Kardashian, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez and Ellen DeGeneres, says it’s crucial for a person to maintain a regimented skincare program twice a day.

“It’s important to keep your skincare program intact,” he tells Yahoo Life. “You should continue your usual skincare program at this time, regardless of the need to wear a mask when in public. Make sure to continue to use products that incorporate ingredients such as glycolic acid and various vitamins if you normally use these. It’s also incredibly important to remain regimented and continue to have a structured morning and night skincare routine.”

Lancer also suggests people start having facial wipes on hand.

“Use facial wipes if you are wearing your mask for several hours. You can also do this when you get home and take your mask off,” he notes. “These should keep excess oil under control, and they don’t require significant time.”

The type of mask or facial covering you’re wearing will also affect your skin. For those making their own masks at home, Lancer urges people to “use simple 100 percent cotton fabric to construct it.”

“The more synthetic a material is, the more heat retention occurs on the skin that is covered by the mask,” he explains. “This will likely lead to irritation and breakouts so make sure to avoid those.”

And skip putting on makeup if you can bear it.

“By using the proper skincare program, simple maintenance of the skin will reduce the need for color cosmetics and makeup,” Lancer shares. “Applying less color cosmetics means less material to be removed during normal skin hygiene. People should learn to use less and less make up during this time if they can, and instead take care of skin through a proper skincare program.”

However, there is still one everyday necessity you can’t forget: sunscreen.

“Consumers need to apply a thin layer of sunscreen to all exposed areas of the face so that they thoroughly cover the skin surface,” he stated. “Make sure to put sunscreen on the entire face as masks can shift and uncover parts of the face that were meant to be covered.”

Rashes are another potential side effect from frequently wearing masks. Lancer suggested people treat rashes and breakouts similarly. 

“Make sure to clean the skin with a gentle antibacterial cleanser and incorporate a thorough facial washing every few hours,” Lancer advises. “Normal cleansing is important at this time as it removes natural debris, and having one with an antibacterial component creates an added barrier of safety at this time. Make sure to have a post-cleansing thorough rinse.”

He adds that a lightweight moisturizer is “key” after cleansing. 

“Heat, perspiration and friction from the mask rubbing skin will potentially cause an irritant dermatitis and perhaps a facial yeast overgrowth or blemishes,” Lancer explains. “Hyaluronic acid is a soothing, anti-inflammatory repair sugar that works to moisturize the skin and fight these issues, so look for a moisturizer that contains this ingredient.”


For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides. 

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