As you will know if you have rosacea, one of the biggest triggers is stress… so it stands to reason that I’ve had an upswing in messages, comments, and emails from fellow sufferers who have seen their skin becoming more irritated, flare ups becoming more regular and more severe. Annoyingly, another common trigger seems to be the face masks that people are wearing to protect themselves and others. Carry on reading for some tips on how to minimise the impact of face masks on your skin…
A lot of the people wearing face masks are struggling with friction, hives, acne, and rashes. But if you have rosacea, you then combine all of the above with the heat from our breath and the low threshold we have for irritation and we are bound to run into trouble. I’m not a key worker, I don’t have to use public transport, etc. so I haven’t had personal experience with face masks. Therefore I have taken advice from those who are much more knowledgable than me: the wonderful Dr Anjali Mahto and the incredible Michelle from Lab Muffin (both are must-follows if you’re interested in no-nonsense skincare advice).
According to Michelle, there are a few reasons why your skin might be unhappy right now: irritant contact dermatitis (“dryness, itching and redness… because of the extra heat, moisture from your breath/from sweating, and friction of the mask rubbing against your skin”) and acne mechanica (“from masks rubbing on your skin and physically blocking your pores”).
Important tips to bear in mind (some of which apply year-round for those of us with sensitive skin!) [paraphrased for brevity from Dr Anjali Mahto – any errors are mine and not hers!]:
- Avoid wearing heavy make-up or foundation underneath face masks as it may have potential to lead to spots/acne.
- Wash your face straight after removing your mask, using a gentle, fragrance free cleanser (e.g. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Dermo-Cleanser) and luke-warm water.
- Pat your face dry with a towel to dry it, rather than rub the skin.
- Moisturise your skin after cleansing to keep the skin hydrated, prevent water loss and improve the barrier function of the skin. Use a fragrance-free moisturiser (e.g. Cetaphil Hydrating Moisturiser or Avene Skin Recovery Cream)
- Avoid using physical scrubs or exfoliators if your skin is dry or irritated from mask-wear, pause use of retinols and acids.
- Consider using barrier creams (e.g. Aquaphor Healing Ointment or Vaseline) as an occlusive to cover up an broken areas of skin overnight. (NB: if you are a healthcare professional wearing PPE do not do this immediately prior to fitting your mask as it may affect the quality of the seal – we need more data/guidelines on this!)
- Where possible, remove pressure from the mask every 1-2 hours.
- If you see no improvement, then seek medical attention as you may require prescription agents.
Michelle also shared some tips if your face mask ear loops are causing irritation behind your ears: you can either extend your loops with a ribbon or band that ties at the back of your head; or if your hair is long enough you can give yourself some fetching Princess Leia buns around which to put the loops:
Looking for some next steps?
- Follow me on INSTAGRAM for lots of rosacea updates.
- Get more information on rosacea and my journey so far in my ROSACEA FAQ POST.
- Join my private rosacea FACEBOOK GROUP.
- And I’ve linked my digital downloads designed by me to help you get to grips with your rosacea: grab the Rosacea Trigger Checklist and the Rosacea Flare Up Diary.
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