Local dermatologist talks common skin irritations caused by face masks

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"I'd rather have breakouts than have COVID, so I think that wearing a mask is necessary."

MIDLAND, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Experts say wearing a mask is crucial in helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19, but for some people, it is causing a new set of health problems. 

Miguel Valdiviezo is building back his confidence after his face broke out two weeks into wearing a facemask.

“Like, I can take it off and you can see like I’m breaking out. I don’t know if you can see it, but I used to have really smooth skin,” explained Valdiviezo. “Just having a mask on, and the sweat, has made me break out. And it’s horrible to live with, but you just have to do it.” 

With no health insurance, he is self-diagnosing by using resources on YouTube and over-the-counter ointments. Working in the heat of a local restaurant does not help, but he is choosing his battles. 

“I’d rather have breakouts than have COVID, so I think that wearing a mask is necessary,” said Valdiviezo.

Russell Akin with Midland Dermatology says there is no uptick in people coming in for mask-induced concerns, but wearing a mask is worsening some of his regular patients’ conditions.

“I think during the summer with the heat, and just the humidity wearing a mask causes, and just the rubbing, friction and irritation that that really becomes the biggest problem.” 

Women may be more susceptible to “maskne,” as acne is more common among them generally. Over-the-counter products and makeup may also cause further issues when trapped under a mask.

“Acne, seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin in general, but particularly dry lips and just irritation in general,” explained Akin.

Akin recommends wearing a more breathable face covering made from cloth instead of medical grade masks. Applying light moisturizer twice a day and switching out masks often can also help.

“Let your skin breathe. So if you’re going to be at home, not exposed to other individuals, get the mask off and really let your skin dry out and breathe. And then for lips, Vaseline and Aquaphor is a good moisturizer. It also provides an inclusive barrier to avoid irritation and just help to rehydrate the lips.” 

If you do experience irritation that is new, and persistent, it may be a good idea then to consult a doctor.

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