Regardless of how you feel about face masks, it’s hard to deny that they’re here to stay for a while. Everyone must do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a face mask is a small, but significant, act that we can perform to keep the pandemic in check.
The CDC advises people to wear a cloth face covering or mask when around others who are not part of your household. More importantly, in instances where social distancing outside the home isn’t possible, the CDC highly recommends wearing a mask.
However, if you’ve been wearing a mask, you’ve probably noticed that they’re not without problems. If you have to wear a mask for more than an hour, or for work, you might encounter a few mask-related concerns.
Face masks are not without their limitations, but we still need to wear them. If you’re one of the many people frustrated with a face mask issue, you’re not alone. The following are eight common mask-wearing problems and how to fix them.
1. Blocked Vision
Face masks, especially those with an upturned V-shape at the nose, can block your vision. If your face mask is poking into your eyelashes or making you cross-eyed, you may want to consider a different sized mask. A mask that’s too large may cover too much of your face and block your eyesight. A poorly fitting mask can also ride up over time and push into your eyes.
Solution: Ensure your face mask is the right size for your face. A face mask should cover your nose and mouth, but not ride into your eyes. If your mask is too small, it can leave your nose or mouth exposed. If your mask is too large, air can seep through gaps around the mask. Finding the right fit can keep you safe and keep the mask from blocking your vision. Create a tighter fit by shortening the loops holding the mask in place. Also, masks with wire around the nose area can help keep the mask in place and prevent air from flowing in.
Go on social media and you’ll find a slew of mask wearers complaining of “maskne”. Maskne, which is acne caused by prolonged mask-wearing, can plague mask wearers. The official medical term for maskne is acne mechanica, which is acne that occurs due to repeated fabric friction on the skin. Before the pandemic, acne mechanica was more common in people who played sports or worked out. The constant rubbing of clothes during sports, combined with sweat, can cause acne mechanica on athletes.
Fabric from masks can repeatedly rub against the skin, causing hair follicles to become inflamed. Furthermore, heat and humidity can make acne mechanica worse by encouraging moisture. Moisture and heat boost bacteria growth in those irritated follicles, causing acne.
Though it can be tempting to use chemical products like peels or alpha hydroxy acids, they may make maskne worse. Chemical products may dry out the already fragile skin and cause more damage. So, if you are suffering from maskne, what can you do to help your skin?
Solution: Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with maskne. Just washing or changing out your mask frequently can help prevent acne from forming and help get rid of them. The same masks that trap COVID viruses can also trap bacteria, so washing or changing masks can keep bacteria off your face. Beware of harsh soaps or drying agents that can cause more skin problems. The key is to keep the skin clean, but cleansing too often can make skin dry or irritated.
If you find you’re prone to maskne, choose your mask fabric carefully. Cotton tends to breathe much better than other materials and doesn’t stick to the skin as much. Also, try out different styles of masks. Some masks fit better than others on different face shapes, decreasing rubbing on skin.