Since the month of March after COVID19 was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the group leading from the front as well as experts in the field began to acknowledge the use of masks as the first line of defence against the virus.
"However, using face masks may cause skin irritation and breakouts for many reasons such as the type of fabric and tightness over the face. Irritation caused by wearing masks is likely to be a result of ‘contact dermatitis’ - an allergic reaction to cloth materials; the bacteria formed from not cleaning the mask well enough or re-usage of disposable masks. The use of a mask may lead to abrasions on the bridge of your nose, chin, cheeks, or also behind the ears," says Dr Kiran Godse, consultant dermatologist in Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, Navi Mumbai-A Fortis Network Hospital.
So, here are her 10 recommendations to amp up your mask hygiene:
- Keep your masks clean: First and foremost, mask cleanliness must be the topmost priority, it should be washed (if re-usable) or be swapped for a new one after every use
- Treat skin irritations: If you experience skin irritation, use antiseptic soap with warm water to clean your mask. Rinse it thoroughly and ensure it is completely dry before use; you may choose to dry steam your mask in the washing machine
- Take a break from makeup: Makeup may clog your pores and wearing it under a mask could increase the acne or breakouts; take a break from using any cosmetics for a while, or at least till you get it treated
- Cleanse:Wash your face regularly every morning and in the night with a mild facewash that will help unclog pores; it is best to then use a oil free moisturizer in place of water-based moisturizer afterwards
- Let your acne be: Do not squeeze or break your pimples; this will further lead to inflammation and may also infect the area
- Exfoliate for glowing skin: Exfoliation is also important as it helps the skin cells turnover. Salicylic or Glycolic Acids present in exfoliates will help prevent acne. These are also available in the form of serums
- Read the ingredient list: Avoid using products with Petrolatum, an ingredient used in cream and ointments (petroleum jelly)
- Cleanse some more: Before using and after removing your face mask, cleanse and then moisturize your face
- Fabric is key: Know your skin type. The last problem you’d want to deal with is itchy skin and face. Fabric sensitivity varies from person to person and different fabrics come with different textures. Look for a soft and breathable material that is able to absorb moisture
- Don't put off your appointment: Do not let go of the basic hygiene practices, washing your hands thoroughly before going, before wearing your mask, out as well as immediately after returning home. If issues persist, and there is an infection scare, you must consult your doctor immediately