The motto of 2020 is– mask on to keep the novel Coronavirus at bay. But wearing a mask 24/7 can be detrimental to your facial skin, and numerous people worldwide are suffering from this. Hence, you want to know how to save your skin while wearing a mask 24/7.
I am sure you already know that Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, which transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and quickly fall on floors or surfaces.
As a result, it’s a must to wear face masks 24/7 because it will help to prevent the spread of infection and prevent the individual from contracting Coronavirus.
This time Womenminds is going to describe how face masks, even being a part of infection control strategy, cause problems if you wear them for longer periods.
Furthermore, it will give you some ideas on how to take care of your skin while wearing face masks during a pandemic situation.
So, let’s dive in.
Problems of Wearing Face Masks
1. They Can Mess with Your Eyes
About the side effects of face masks, Antonio I. Lazzarino, Medical Doctor and Epidemiologist of the University College London opined in the article named 9 WAYS TO PREVENT FACE-MASK SKIN PROBLEMS that “Wearing a face mask makes the exhaled air go into the eyes.”
“This generates an uncomfortable feeling and an impulse to touch your eyes. If your hands are contaminated, you are infecting yourself then,” he continued.
He suggests that you need to resist the temptation to touch your face if you want to stay away from Coronavirus.
Also, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds after contact with substances like door handles, elevator buttons, packages, or anything else where germs may thrive.
2. They Can Be Uncomfortable
Wearing face masks 24/7 makes you feel irritable. In order to get away from that discomfort, you need to find the right fit of your mask along with an appropriate clothing quality.
“Cotton material is considered to have better ventilation and will trap less of the moisture that builds up from breathing and sweating,” reports CNet.
Make sure your face mask is “snug, not tight,” says CNet. While you want your mask to fit snugly around your face to help prevent respiratory droplets from escaping or coming in, you certainly don’t want it to be so tight that it hurts your face.
Also, if it’s too tight, that gives you less room to breathe well, which I am sure you don’t want.
3. They Can Restrict Your Airflow
Face masks make breathing more difficult. For people with COPD which is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and also causes a decreased airflow, it gets worsened if you wear masks for a longer period.
Moreover, a fraction of carbon dioxide previously exhaled is inhaled at each respiratory cycle if you keep wearing masks. Those two phenomena increase breathing frequency and deepness, and hence they increase the amount of inhaled and exhaled air.
Consequently, this may worsen the burden of COVID-19 if infected people wearing masks spread more contaminated air.
And this may also worsen the clinical condition of infected people if the enhanced breathing pushes the viral load down into their lungs.
4. They Can Cause Foggy Glasses
When you exhale warm air without wearing a mask, it dissipates into the atmosphere. When you do it wearing a mask, it tends to shoot straight up into your bifocals, fogging them up.
You have to consider the fit of your face mask so that you can prevent your exhaled breath from reaching your glasses.
An easy hack is to place a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from reaching your glasses.
Also, make sure the top of your mask is tight and the bottom looser, to help direct your exhaled breath away from your eyes.
5. Unconscious Closeness During Conversations
The quality and the volume of speech between two people wearing masks are considerably compromised and they may unconsciously come closer during a conversation.
To avoid that be sure to stay six feet away from someone when talking to them even when wearing masks. Think of the length of a twin bed, to have a proper sense of the distance.
6. Foster a False Sense of Security
Don’t think of your face mask as Batman’s cowl—some kind of bulletproof covering that will protect you from the coronavirus.
You should wear masks in addition to the evidence-based, strong recommendations that are already in place around physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and frequent disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces.
7. Spread Disease if Not Washed
It’s quite possible that if you walk around with a dirty face mask, it’s meant to stop the spread of germs. On the other hand, instead of protecting you from Coronavirus, it will spread germs if not washed properly.
It’s highly likely to spread germs by themselves if not washed or disposed of with caution.
You should be extremely careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when removing the face covering.
8. They May Cause Skin Irritation
If you have dry skin, it’s best to put on moisturizer before wearing a mask. This can help prevent skin irritation from where the mask rubs your face.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to forgo the makeup under your mask altogether and to cleanse your face before and after wearing a mask.
Not to mention that the foundation on your skin also can lead to decreased air filtration by causing an infraction with your mask. This might worsen the breathing condition of Coronavirus.
12 Ways to Protect Your Skin While Wearing Masks
Mind that, masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. At the same time, it’s true that masks can also be hard on your skin, causing problems that range from acne and peeling skin to rashes and itchiness.
Let me recommend some ways in order to help to prevent skin problems from developing under your mask.
1. Cleanse and Moisturize Your Face Daily
Gentle skincare can prevent skin problems. When washing your face, use a mild, fragrance-free cleanser to make the process easier.
Dry skin is a common face-mask skin problem. So you must consider applying moisturizer as it adds a protective layer that can reduce dryness.
You also need to make sure to apply moisturizer immediately after washing your face. To get the most benefit from a moisturizer, board-certified dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik recommends using a moisturizer that has Ceramides, Hyaluronic acid, or Dimethicone.
These ingredients make sure to create a barrier that helps reducing irritation from your skin.
You can furthermore prevent breakouts by using a moisturizer formulated for your skin type only. So while selecting a moisturizer, thinking about your skin type is mandatory.
If you have oily skin, try gel-based moisturizer, and with normal or combination skin formation, go for lotion based moisturizer.
Moreover, if your skin is dry to very dry skin, then you need cream-based moisturizer. Lastly, in terms of acne-prone skin, you can still use a gel moisturizer.
2. Protect Your Lips
Dry skin and chapped lips are common face-mask skin problems. You can prevent chapped lips by applying petroleum jelly to your lips.
Make sure to apply chapstick after washing your face, before putting on your mask, and before going to bed.
To prevent breakouts, take care to apply the petroleum jelly only to your lips.
3. Skip Makeup
Beneath a mask, makeup is more likely to clog your pores and lead to breakouts. So, if you want to have skin free of breakouts and clogged pores, avoid wearing makeup then.
But if you think you can’t go without it and makeup is necessary, then use products that are labeled as non-comedogenic or oil-free.
4. Avoid Trying New Skin Care Products
If you don’t want to cause irritation to your skin beneath a mask, then avoid trying anything new on your skin.
Wearing a mask for even a short period of time can make your skin more sensitive. To reduce skin problems, avoid trying harsh products, such as a chemical peel, exfoliant, or retinoid, for the first time.
In case, you already apply retinoid before this Coronavirus situation, then apply it at bedtime so that the effect doesn’t stay while you wear masks. And don’t increase the amount of your application on your skin.
5. Use Less of Certain Skin Care Products
When you cover your face with a mask, some skincare products that you’ve used in the past may irritate your skin. If this happens, I would like to recommend you cutting back on products that can irritate your skin.
For instance, products such as leaving salicylic acid for a longer period of time can lead to irritation in your skin. Applying retinoid without imbalance and keeping aftershave for a certain amount of time can also lead to skin problems.
6. Use Plant-based Oil or Serum to Nourish the Skin
Protecting the skin barrier is key when wearing a face mask. This means fortifying the skin by using a plant-based facial oil or plant-based facial serum before putting on your face mask.
Do you know that the oil barrier can protect areas of your skin from friction or chafing? I would like to suggest plant-based ingredients as they are more readily matched to the oils on your skin.
Plant oils are highly moisturizing and help to fortify the lipid barrier of your skin. Healthy and strong skin will be more resilient to the effects of a face mask.
7. Wash Skin Once you remove your mask
Don’t forget to wash your skin for the day after removing your mask. You need to keep chanting washing your skin properly.
If you have eczema or dry, sensitive skin, you may want to apply a heavier moisturizer in the form of a cream.
8. Wear the Right Mask
To reduce skin problems, you also need to look for the right kind of mask for your skin.
So try looking for masks that offer a snug, but comfortable in terms of fitting. Soft, natural, and breathable fabric, such as cotton fabric on the inside that feels soft, should be your first priority.
If you have sensitive and acne-prone skin, nothing will work the best than the cotton material.
A snug, comfortable fit also reduces skin problems. If the mask feels too tight or slides around on your face, it can irritate your skin.
You’re also more likely to cause irritation to your skin while adjusting a poorly fitting mask. When you touch your mask, you can transfer germs to your mask and your face, so remember that.
The fabric is also important. Avoid synthetic fabrics like nylon, polyester, and rayon. These are more likely to irritate your skin and cause breakouts.
9. Take a Mask Break Every 4 Hours
Health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic have found that this technique has helped to save their skin.
Of course, only remove your mask when it’s safe to do so and after washing your hands for 20 seconds.
You keep in mind some safe places while removing your mask. For example, outdoors—can be a great place to put your mask away for a couple of minutes to inhale fresh oxygen. But don’t forget to do that when you can stay at least six feet away from people.
When you’re all by yourself in your car then you can think of moving the mask away from your skin to let it breathe. Lastly, the home should be a safe place where you don’t need to wear masks 24/7.
10. Wash Your Cloth Masks
Many health care organizations now recommend that you wash a cloth mask after each use. Washing also removes oils and skin cells that collect inside the mask, which can lead to a skin problem.
You can wash a cloth mask in a washing machine or by hand. Both ways remove germs and other particles. Just be sure to follow the washing instructions on each mask.
Try washing the masks in hot water unless the instructions say otherwise. You can also use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
After washing your mask, don’t forget to check its shape. If a mask no longer fits snugly and feels comfortable, it is less protective then.
11. Follow Your Dermatologist
Don’t stop continuing the treatment plan that your dermatologist has created for you. If you have a skin condition, such as acne or rosacea, it’s especially important to follow your treatment plan. This can help keep the condition under control.
12. Stay Hydrated
Last but not the least, don’t avoid drinking a lot of water in order to keep your skin hydrated.
Wearing a face mask means that you may find it difficult to drink water during the day due to our faces being covered. It’s very important to make sure you are hydrated, as this will improve the barrier function of your skin as part of your overall skin health.
A Few Tips to protect your skin
- Wash your skin well and apply a light moisturizer or, if your skin is very dry, use a cream. Try to avoid ointments as they may be too greasy. Furthermore, ointments might adversely affect the seal of certain tight-fitting masks.
- Apply a light sunscreen lotion or cream, preferably a mineral-based sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Be aware that certain chemical sunscreen ingredients may wear down the integrity of rubber or elastic materials on the mask.
- Make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth snugly, but not so tight that you hurt your skin.
- If your glasses or goggles fog up while wearing a mask, use “paper-tape” or “micropore” tape to tape the mask across the bridge of your nose and onto the cheeks to prevent your breath from fogging up. This type of tape is the least likely to pull or damage your skin when you remove the mask.
- Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after removing your mask.
- For those wearing cloth masks, make sure you launder them daily to minimize bacteria growths on them, which can cause acne. Use regular detergent with no bleach as the bleach may breakdown some mask materials.
- If your ears hurt from the elastic bands, try to switch to a cloth mask (when in non-medical settings) with cloth ear loops.
The American Academy of Dermatology supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wear a cloth face-covering in public settings during the Coronavirus situation.
It’s also advisable to wear face masks when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
A growing body of evidence has shown that masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of COVID-19. But while doing that you must not compare your skincare.
Wear face masks in public, practice social distancing, frequently wash your hands, and follow our ways to help protect yourself as well as your skin.