Ask a Doc: Now that I wear a face mask every day, I’ve noticed that I have been breaking out. What can I do to help my skin? | Harbin

A weekly column addressing your most sought-after health questions, answered by Harbin Clinic’s expert healthcare professionals

Question: Now that I wear a face mask every day, I’ve noticed that I have been breaking out. What can I do to help my skin?

Dr. Jonathan Pewitt: Wearing a face mask is likely to be part of your daily wardrobe. Face coverings play a crucial role in reducing exhaled air particles and slowing the spread of COVID-19. However, your skin may be experiencing some pesky side effects, such as redness, acne and facial irritation. By practicing effective facial hygiene, you can help curb those breakouts while still wearing a mask and protecting those around you.

Masks provide an important layer of protection. However, when not washed or cleaned properly, they can clog pores and flare acne. While there are a variety of reasons breakouts occur, the top two as it relates to wearing a mask are:

Rubbing: Some masks can cause breakouts through friction and chafing, similar to that of a carpet burn. The area that may experience the highest irritation is the bridge of the nose to where the elastic bands hit behind the ears.

Irritation: The material of a mask absorbs oil naturally produced by the skin. For some people, this leads to dryness and sensitivity. Residue from detergents and fabric softeners also get stuck underneath a mask and can cause irritation. This can lead to redness, dry patches, peeling, or dark marks. If you have a skin condition like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, irritation can make it flare.

To combat facial irritations, we recommend that you frequently and gently wash your face. Wash your mask regularly with a fragrance free cleanser. Apply a fragrance free moisturizer, avoid excessive wearing of makeup under the face mask, and consider fragrance free laundry detergent when washing your mask.

The board-certified dermatologists at Harbin Clinic Dermatology specialize in diagnosing and treating both common and rare conditions of the skin, hair and nails. We take a personalized approach to care, and we are dedicated to ensuring that your skin is as healthy and beautiful as possible.

Dr. Pewitt is a board-certified dermatologist at Harbin Clinic Dermatology Rome. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please visit

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