[Image description: A woman wears a fabric face mask outdoors.]
After months of wearing a face mask while you’re away from home, you may be starting to experience some acne, rashes, rosacea, and other skin irritants. If you have been feeling frustrated and maybe even a little self-conscious about your skin, you’re in good company! Luckily, there are certain steps you can take to help reduce skin irritation and blemishes, and hopefully give you some peace of mind.
Step 1. Select a mask with two or more layers of fabric that are easy to wash and breathable. Read the labels and try out different kinds of masks to figure out which fabrics are best for your skin. This may take some time and patience but is well worth it, since you will likely be wearing these masks on a regular basis for the next several months.
Step 2: Wash your mask regularly. Whether you are cleaning it by hand or using a washing machine, this will remove sweat and bacteria that may irritate your skin. Think of your mask as an undergarment — you want it to be as fresh as possible to provide the most comfort.
Step 3. Dry your mask properly. If you use a dryer, set it to the highest heat until the mask is completely dry. If you are air drying, lay the mask flat and in the sunlight if possible. Make sure it is completely dry before wearing it. Damp and wet masks can harbor germs that may add to skin breakouts and infections. If you are finding that the mask is taking a long time to dry, consider making or purchasing a few more so you can have backups on hand. (Click here for the ASL video on how to make a mask).
Step 4. Take care of your skin. Make sure to continue your typical skin care routine to maintain proper skin hygiene and keep it clean and resilient. If you could use extra support, try adding some products to help protect your skin. Some ideas include Vaseline, face lotion, or any other topical ointment that can create a barrier between your skin and the mask. You can also use non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic skincare products. Also, try to take the mask off when you are able in order to let your skin breath.
Step 5. Find support online. If you have a question about mask hygiene or general skin care, you can speak with a doctor online. They can work with you, look at your skin, and talk through options. Plus, you don’t have to put on a mask and travel to the doctor’s office! You can have a visit from the privacy of your own home.
In addition to the steps listed above, you may want to consider focusing on general self-care measures and your mental health, as chronic stress can affect your skin. Try not to forget that this is a uniquely stressful time, and it is understandable if your skin has been impacted. See if you can maintain a well-rounded diet, sleep at least seven hours a night, stay hydrated, and exercise regularly. Also remember, you do not have to manage this on your own — therapists are available to speak with you online and offer support.