Cloth masks are best for your skin, but not so much for prevention from highly infectious strains of Covid-19, the latest one being Omicron which has caused spike in number of infections across the globe. Wearing N95 or surgical masks for longer periods of time could lead to skin problems like infections, rashes on the face and itchiness. If you are wearing masks for 4 hours or long, the risk of these infection multiply.
“Masks play a vital role in reducing the spread of coronavirus and they aren’t going away anytime soon. It has now become very important to prevent the skin problems caused by masks that range from acne and peeling skin to rashes and itchiness,” says Dr Jyoti Gupta, consultant dermatologist in Panchsheel Enclave, New Delhi.
While masks are not going anywhere anytime soon it’s important to follow a skin care routine religiously so that our skin can breathe and steer clear of acne, infections and roughness.
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Moisturising your skin and avoiding makeup products, peels, scrubs, aftershaves and anti-ageing products that can make your skin problem worse can help.
Here are tips by Dr Gupta to take care of your skin while you are wearing a mask:
Cleanse and moisturise well
Washing you face from time to time, moisturizing it well, and using milder skin products can help you prevent infections and allergies.
“Limit face wash to twice a day and after sweating. When washing your face, use mild and fragrance free products. Apply moisturizer before and after wearing a mask. Moisturizer can prevent problems, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin,” says Dr Gupta.
Avoid makeup and harsh products
If you are struggling with acne and breakout for long but not ready to give up certain makeup products, it is time to do so for the sake of your skin health.
“Applying makeup can lead to breakouts. It is best to skip makeup under mask. Avoid use of certain products and medication that can irritate your skin more when you’re wearing a mask. It is best to stop using these products until your dermatologist recommends. The examples of these products are leave-on salicylic acid, retinoid you apply to your face, aftershave, anti-aging products, at-home light devices, Peels or scrubs,” says the dermatologist.
“Do not wear sunscreen, BB creams or tinted creams under your mask if you are acne prone or have sensitive skin,” adds the expert.
Protect your lips by applying petroleum jelly
Dry skin and chapped lips are common face mask skin problems. You can prevent chapped lips by applying petroleum jelly to your lips after washing your face, before you put on your mask and before bed.
Taking care of skin behind your ears
If you can, alternate the types of mask you wear.
“Find masks with different types of ties and ear loops. Wear a different type of mask each day. This will help in preventing sore skin behind the ears,” says Dr Gupta.
Adjust masks only when necessary
Do not adjust your mask repeatedly by pulling it up and down the nose. This is because when you pull the mask down, the ties stretch and it can cause irritation to your skin leading to frequent infections and pimples formation.
Wearing mask the right way
Go for a comfortable mask and avoid synthetic fibre. Take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours and of course, only remove your mask when it’s safe to do so and after washing your hands.