We have been living with protective masks for many weeks, whose prolonged use can cause skin irritation , redness , itching and the appearance of acne . Follow our tips to prevent or relieve mask irritation .

Mask irritation: what happens to the skin
Wearing a mask is an essential behavior for the containment of Covid-19, but it can cause annoying consequences for the skin , especially among those who use them for many hours a day, such as healthcare workers. Constant contact with the tissue can trigger the appearance ofmask irritation , redness and itching in areas where the edges of the device press on the face. Furthermore, in predisposed subjects it can also trigger acne and contact dermatitis .
To trigger skin irritationare a number of factors, including rubbing, moisture resulting from trapped breath, sweat and oily secretion from the skin. The skin consequences of continued use of the protective mask depend on the characteristics of the skin, the time of use and the type of device. For example, FFP2 and FFP3 masks, being more adherent and occlusive than surgical ones, tend to cause greater discomfort. With the heat, then, the risk of skin rashes under the mask due to the “condensation effect” increases.

Problems related to mask irritation
The accumulation of sebum and sweat can cause, especially on mixed or oily complexions, clogged pores and the appearance of acne and blackheads on the areas covered by the mask. In this regard, the term “maskne” was coined to indicate mask acne, due to the limited oxygenation and perspiration in the area covered by the fabric. It should be noted that dry skin also suffers under the mask because condensation can further evaporate the hydration, removing the water it needs.
Rubbing the mask with the skin, especially in the presence of sensitive and reactive skin, can cause skin rednessand localized abrasions on the cheeks, chin, lip contour, nose bridge and behind the ears. Friction with acne-prone skin, predisposing to occlusion of the sebaceous glands, can further exacerbate the problem.
Despite being hypoallergenic, prolonged contact between the skin and the materials with which the masks are made, such as synthetic fibers, rubber bands or the underwire resting on the nose, can cause contact dermatitis .

Cleaning and moisturizing irritated skin
To prevent or treat mask irritation just follow some simple precautions to be implemented both before and after wearing the safety device. Gentle daily skin care is recommended, performed with emollient, soothing and repairing cosmetics, preferably based on aloe vera .
The first step to limit the risk of irritation consists in a correct daily cleansing of the face . It is a good habit to wash your face thoroughly with a specific cleanser and water both before and after wearing the mask. Cleaning maneuvers must be gentle so as not to favor the appearance of other pimples. It is also good to remember that the mask must also be clean.
Another essential step is the application of a moisturizing product both upon awakening and before going to bed. It is good to opt for non-aggressive products, rich in antioxidants and specific substances for irritations, such asvitamin E. The best way to avoid rubbing with the fabric is to apply a moisturizer every two hours to the affected areas, such as the ears or the nose area in contact with the adhesive strip found on some masks.

How to prevent or treat mask irritation
Before putting on the mask it is useful to apply an emollient creamwhich acts as a protective film against the aggressive action of the safety device, and which at the same time exerts a remedial action on the injuries present. For example, creams based on shea butter and ceramide complex, which nourish and accelerate skin repair, are recommended. Or those based on chamomile and centella asiatica extracts, which soothe redness and irritation.
Irritated skin should be treated with soothing creams based, for example, on aloe vera , which absorbs quickly, giving relief and a pleasant sensation of freshness , relieves redness and itching, deeply hydrates dry skinand regenerates it, stimulating cell turnover. If the face is also swollen, dabbing the clean skin with a towel previously wet with cold water and wrung out will help reduce the turgor.
Finally, to prevent skin wrinkles from accentuating and creating new ones, it is advisable to focus on moisturizing cosmetics and anti-aging serums based on antioxidants such as vitamin C, an infallible weapon against sagging skin , or retinol, precious ally to repair damaged tissues and reduce scars and wrinkles.

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