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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger HendersonReviewed on 13.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Maskne is a new phenomenon coined in the COVID-19 pandemic to describe the acne experienced around the nose, upper lip and chin area in a response to regularly wearing a mask. Mask-provoked acne is new to the general public, anyway, but has long been experienced by medical and construction workers.

The causes of these pimples, or whiteheads, are two-fold: the first is the physical barrier they provide, which causes pores to become blocked with the dead skin cells we shed all the time, so-called acne mechanica. A bacteria associated with acne, called P. Acnes, causes inflammation in blocked pores and sebaceous (oil-forming) glands, and in addition to the physical friction, masks also provide a warm, moist environment for P. Acnes to grow and multiply, thus further inflaming the spots, and even causing deep spots, called cysts.

Doctor’s advice

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

It is important to clean the skin, removing any sweat build-up in the pores of the skin. If your skin type is naturally dry, then using a moisturiser to act as a barrier to prevent friction and irritation.

If your skin type is naturally quite oily, then using a face swipe regularly may help to remove excess moisture and sweat build up and make wearing a face mask for prolonged periods a bit more comfortable.

Am I fit for work?

Yes, you are fit for work if you are suffering from maskne.

Further explanation of treatments

Appearance is important to all of us, and skin problems can have a huge effect on our self-esteem and confidence. If you feel your acne is causing you substantial distress and over the counter remedies have not got on top of it, book a routine appointment to discuss with your doctor. They will ask about your acne and examine you, and may suggest prescription medications.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 13.10.2023
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