Covid-19’s Secondary Skin Effects – “Maskne” Face Skin Breakouts

Who would have ever thought that we would be wearing a mask as part of our daily wardrobe ? Due the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are becoming more vigilant in our daily lives and wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as facial coverings and masks. We are starting to see increased cases of mask induced acne “Maskne”, comedones, folliculitis, irritation, pressure sores, broken blood vessels, contact dermatitis and rosacea. While there is much stress around the “unknowns” of COVID-19, Steiger Facial Plastic Surgery wants to bring awareness to this new skin condition and let you know that you are NOT alone!


Wearing masks for several hours at a time can have multiple effects on our skin.  We are also faced with the challenge of reusing our mask for fear of PPE shortages. Whether you’re using disposable paper masks, washable fabric masks, or medical grade masks, the constant pressure and friction on the skin can create or compound existing problems. Constant pressure or friction can compromise the natural skin barrier called the “acid mantle”.


The body’s natural skin barrier, the acid mantle, is a fine acidic film on our epidermis. It is made of our natural oils, amino acids and sweat.  We rely on our bodies natural sebum production to mix with our sweat to produce the acid mantle.  Our acid mantle helps shield the skin from bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants. When we breathe or talk into our masks we increase the moisture which results in a change in our skin’s natural PH.  A change of PH can introduce an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast.  Bacteria overgrowth results in acne, folliculitis, and a flareup of rosacea.  Yeast overgrowth can result in perioral dermatitis or cheilitis, seborrheic dermatitis,etc.  The friction and pressure can make our skin more sensitive causing redness, chafing, wrinkles, and even fine broken capillaries.


Our skin care recommendations to help you combat these problems:

  1. Avoid cosmetics if possible.  If this is not possible look for 100% mineral based cosmetics.  Look for non-comedogenic or water based makeup.
  2. Start the day with a reliable gentle, face wash.  Our Pure Cleanse facial cleanser works well for this.
  3. Tone your face with a gentle non-alcohol based toner to prevent over drying.  We recommend Witch Hazel.
  4. Next step are gentle serums that provide your face with antioxidants, growth factors, moisture, and support. This can be used with most skin types.  We recommend Root of Skin MD, the MD formulation can only be purchased from physician offices, providing stronger ingredients .
  5. It is important to provide your skin with moisture and protection even if you tend to be oily.  If you over strip your skin of natural oil protection, your body’s natural defense will balance it with an overproduction of oil. We recommend our Ultra Lite Creme our and for those that additional moisture, the Pure HA hyaluronic acid serum is a staple in anyone’s skin care regimen.
  6. If you’re acne prone you can apply a thin layer of  5% benzoyl peroxide which has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial properties. Just remember, “ less is always more”.
  7. We always recommend applying a non-comedogenic mineral based sunblock. Patients often find this step can often replace their facial cosmetic. We recommend chemical free Clear Defense (non-tinted) or Steiger’s Defense Balm (tinted with BB cream). There are some patients that find almost all sunblocks can exacerbate their acne. So if you have a sunblock that you’re accustomed to stick with it.
  8. Your evening regime will look similar to your morning.  During the evening you can apply your prescribed topical medications or otc for your particular condition (rosacea, yeast dermatitis, etc) after your wash and serums.
  9. In the evening you may also substitute your gentle face wash with a  2% salicylic face wash. This will ensure gentle exfoliation and help unclog pores.  We recommend our medical grade 2% salicylic wash.
  10. Although Retinol is an anti-aging staple, if you find masks are causing mechanical irritation, sores and broken blood vessels we suggest patients forgo this step at this time.
  11. While maintaining our home face care routines we can always seek the additional assistance of a highly experienced licensed medical aesthetician for Hydrafacials (tailored to your specific needs). Ask for a free consultation with our licensed medical aesthetician.
  12. If you find yourself with fine broken capillaries ,we can help with the XLV Laser which is the best laser for targeting broken blood vessels, capillaries and other vascular skin issues.


For more information about Maskne treatment please call our office at 561-499-9339 or email