face mask


Can Face masks create Acne?

While we need to protect ourselves and others with face masks, some of us are experiencing skin issues…

As face masks are becoming mandatory for the general public to wear on public transport and in shops, you might be wondering about the impact of those masks on your skin health? It has been almost two years that face masks are now part of our life and with skin issues on the rise, is there a correlation?

Face Masks effect on Skin

When Face masks are properly worn and fitted, it creates pressure on the skin. Therefore this process increases the temperature and humidity around our nose, mouth, and chin area. This combination could lead to a build-up of sweat & oil on the skin and can create: spots, irritation,  inflammation, rashes, trauma lines, skin discoloration, and acne breakouts.

Indeed, face masks can actually cause a variety of skin problems, the most common being mask acne and we now have a new term for it: “MASKNE”!

Acne is caused by excess oil on the skin combined with a blockage in the pores. The fact is that wearing a mask creates a warm and humid environment underneath it which traps moisture and sebum. As a consequence, this can potentially clog the pores and aggravate pre-existing acne. It can also cause new breakouts. When the pores become inflamed, it leads leading to red tender acne lesions.  The phenomenon tends to occur around the mouth and nose area but can also affect the jawline.

The excess in oil production combined with blockage of sebaceous glands, and overgrowth of the bacterium propionibacterium acne causes more spots. This can be worsened if you already have underlying or existing skin conditions such as rosacea or eczema. Make sure to use a moisturiser before wearing your face mask.

Moreover, skin issues can be exacerbated by excessive stress, medications, and hormonal imbalance.

What are the common types of face masks?

We are still facing a health emergency and despite the issues on our skin, it is important to wear an adequate face mask against the virus. Here are some of the most common ones:

  • Cloth masks: Filter large particles such as pollen and dust- Not recommended in medical/healthcare settings.
  • Surgical/medical masks: Filter sprays and large-particle respiratory and salivary droplets- Can reduce transmission to and from the wearer.
  • N95 respirator masks: Provide at least 95% protection against airborne particles 0.3 microns or greater in diameter- Exhalation valves make breathing easy but exhaled air is not filtered so infectious particles can be transmitted from the wearer to others.

Common skin issues associated with face mask usage

The most commonly reported issues related to wearing a face mask are facial itch, redness, rash, dryness, and peeling. And in some cases, even swelling and tingling.

In particular, oily skin is prone to having skin issues related to face mask usage. As a general rule try to avoid wearing a mask for more than 4 hours daily. You need to let your skin breathe as well, do it if you safely can.

  • Mechanical skin damage

Mechanical skin damage can be the result of the pressure from the metal nose clip, or itching, redness behind the ears due to the earloops. The friction irritates the skin and could progress to inflammation, erosions, ulceration, and even scarring.

  • Contact dermatitis

Redness, irritation, itching, and flaking, are caused by your skin reacting to the material of your mask, or a sensitivity to the detergent you have used to wash it.


As we mentioned above, wearing a mask can induce or exacerbate acne and Rosacea flares.

What is the best way to address the issue?

  • Always wear a clean mask. The World Health Organisation states: “Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.”
  • Moisture your skin well before wearing your mask. Frictions from the masks can create skin irritations.
  • If you are wearing cloth masks make sure that they are not made of synthetic fabric such as polyester. Synthetic fabrics will increase the sweat and they are not gentle on the skin. We recommend using soft cotton or other natural fabrics.
  • Wash your fabric masks between uses and at 60 degrees to kill all the bacteria. The Centre for Disease Control states that “a washing machine should suffice properly washing a face covering”.
  • Non-Bio detergents and fabric softeners might create irritations. Choose a bio/sensitive or skin-friendly product to wash them.
  • Avoid wearing makeup especially if you have to wear the mask for a long time.
  • For sensitive skin, as soon as you remove your mask wash your face and apply a soothing moisturiser.
  • If you have acne-prone skin you can use Niacinamide- Zinc-based moisturisers or serums. You can easily find them on Medik8 Break at NAR LONDON online shop.
  • In case of inflammation try to use pure aloe vera gel under your moisturiser – it will reduce the inflammation.
  • If your Acne or Skin irritation continues get a Free Consultation at Nar London Harley Street for a professional specialist to give you the best options related to your skin condition.

Mask hygiene

As previously stated, give your skin a breather by removing your mask when it’s safe to do so. It is highly recommended to keep your mask on when standing near other people. Though try to find places especially in Nature where you can safely remove your mask and breathe. Here below some tips:

  • Change your mask regularly. Every few hours if possible.
  • Wash reusable fabric masks after every use. Make sure you use a gentle detergent to avoid contact dermatitis.
  • Throw away disposable masks. As their name indicates do not reuse them.
  • Do not touch your mask when wearing it as this can transfer viral particles and bacteria to the mask.
  • Wear an appropriate mask-like N95
  • Take time break from masks and let your skin breathe
  • Have a regular skin routine using moisturisers and serums.
  • Take mask breaks

Up your skincare regime

Wash your face with a simple, neutral, fragrance-free cleanser. You should also moisturize overnight. Adopting a healthy skincare routine will do more good than harm.

Try to avoid makeup if you’re going to be wearing a mask for long periods as this can contribute to clogged pores.


SPF30 under your mask

Most mask and face-covering materials don’t provide adequate sun protection.  In summer particularly try to get a UVB sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and at least 4-star UVA protection.

The importance of wearing a mask during Covid

Despite the risks on the skin, there are greater risks related to Covid-19 and its new variants. Wearing a mask correctly and taking care of your skin needs to go hand in hand.

Many people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms but can still spread the virus through droplets that escape from the mouth when speaking, sneezing, and/or coughing. Scientific studies have shown that wearing an adequate mask lowers the risk of infection from COVID-19.

There are a few easy steps that are recommended:

  • Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds before and after touching a mask.
  • Adjust the mask to make sure it properly fits over the nose, mouth, and chin
  • Allows a bit of space for comfortable breathing and speaking.



Furthermore, you should avoid some common mistakes. DO NOT :

  1. Touch your mask, your child’s mask, or anyone’s mask while it is being worn.
  2. Wear the mask under your chin with your nose and/or mouth exposed.
  3. Leave your nose and/or mouth uncovered.
  4. Remove the mask while around others in public and especially closed spaces.
  5. Share your mask with family members or friends.

Remember these easy tips to keep your skin healthy and most importantly to keep you and your loved ones healthy. Covid has been and is still draining for all of us but we need to live somehow with this new reality for the time being.


Masks are unfortunately now part of our lives and are now increasingly mandatory to limit the spread of the virus. Thus, despite your best efforts, you may still suffer from skin issues acne outbreaks.  When skin issues such as acne arise as an adult,  we understand how distressing and annoying it can be, and we are here to help.

After we analyze your skin, we determine the best course of treatment for your particular type and severity of acne. Often, we offer probiotic acne & rosacea treatments

Otherwise, visit your dermatologist in your area to get help with skin issues correlated with wearing masks.



As said, we offer a proper probiotic treatment at Nar London to fight acne and rosacea issues. However, if you cannot have a thorough treatment, we still want to share with you some tips to improve your acne.

  • Firstly,  we need to keep properly cleanse our skin. You should wash your face before wearing a face mask with a gentle cleanser.
  • Then,  you can apply salicylic acid to the acne-located area. The salicylic acid can help break down and dry out the acne.
  • Subsequently, follow up with benzoyl peroxide (can help to kill the bacteria prolonging the life of acne).
  • Finally, you may choose to put a light coat of hydrocortisone cream. This can speed up the healing process with its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Apply a bandage to your acne to seal the ingredients applied.
  • Avoid touching or rubbing.


Once you have applied everything in the correct order, you may notice that your acne has shrunk or has emerged to the surface of your face rather than deep in your pores. Those are good signs that you are making progress in fighting your acne.

This said we recommend visiting first your dermatologist in order to properly assess your condition and decide on the proper course of action.


Stay Safe,  Covid & Acne Free.