Wearing a mask is a must in the times we currently live in. This won’t really bother the people who are working from home because they need the mask only when they step out of home for brief periods of time.
However, for the people working outside home, they are wearing masks for a long stretch of time and some care for the skin related to face masks becomes quite important.
What issues could long usage of a mask create for your skin? How should we avoid them?
1) First and foremost, for people who are hyper-allergenic, or have sensitive skin, please make sure to use a material that does not cause a reaction. This even goes for the strap, especially if it is a mask with an ear-hook. Even in general, try to rotate your masks and have ones that hook behind the ears and a full strap on alternate days.
2) Wash your mask every day if it is washable. If it’s not, then do remember to discard it after prescribed usage duration. A dirty mask will lead to higher probability of impurities clogging your pores. It could also lead to skin irritation. This becomes more important for people who are prone to acne!
3) The biggest issue that wearing a face mask for long hours can cause is increased dryness of your skin and lips, apart from causing irritation or redness. This is where moisturizing becomes very important. Always remember to apply a moisturizer. Use a gel-based moisturizer if you have acne prone or oily skin, but always moisturize your face. In case of your lips, apply petroleum jelly to avoid dryness.
4) For those with acne prone skin, one very useful measure would be to apply tea-tree oil or eucalyptus oil to the inner surface of the mask before wearing it! Both of these are very effective, natural anti-acne agents. Apart from that, they also help with hygiene of the mask and you will get a whiff of their soft scent inside the mask!
5) Make-up can increase problems of oiliness and acne under your mask. So, it is best to avoid wearing make-up. But if you can’t do that, then use make-up that is low in oil content or has low comedogenicity (it should say so on the labels). Most skincare products would provide such information.
6) Lastly, try your best to take face mask breaks every 3-4 hours. Do this in safe spaces like when you’re alone in your car or are outdoors with no one else around in 6-10 feet from you! During your mask breaks, do use the opportunity to drink 2-3 glasses of water every time. This will go a long way in keeping your skin fresh & hydrated!
As a final note, you also cannot forget about the basics to be practiced with a face mask or otherwise through the pandemic. Try to limit your contact with people and in social events. In case you are planning to visit a clinic such as a skin clinic, always make sure that you are visiting a safe space with regular sanitization and safety precautions. Fomites also spread the infection and just wearing a face mask is not enough. It must be worn right and also be accompanied by other safety measures.
Dr. Aakriti Mehra is a practicing dermatologist and the medical director of SkinGenious Colaba. She has 12 years of experience and is a gold medalist from Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi University.
Visit https://skingenious.in to get in touch with Dr. Aakriti Mehra