Author: Dr Branden Seow
The Clifford Clinic has been successful when it comes to treating patients with acne and acne scars. As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also noticed an increase in patients experiencing acne outbreaks and skin rashes from wearing facial masks or after their vaccinations. In today’s article, we would like to share some observations and tips on how to protect your skin and keep it in the best state possible, even amidst a pandemic.
The rise of “maskne”
Acne mechanica, otherwise known as “maskne”, is a skin condition brought on by prolonged wearing of facial masks. As mask wearing becomes part of our new normal, it will not be a surprise to also see the prevalence of acne breakouts as a result.
Especially with the hot and humid climate in Singapore, the combination of heat, friction, and sweat creates the perfect environment for the P.acnes bacteria to thrive. Unfortunately, patients who have a history of acne are more prone to developing “maskne”.
In addition, we are also noticing more patients coming to us for other kinds of rashes that may appear as maskne but are very different in terms of their characteristics and treatment options. These include:
- Allergic contact dermatitis – Some people may be allergic to the material that their face masks are made of. As such, allergic rashes develop in response to wearing of that mask.
- Rosacea – Mask wearing can increase rosacea flares of patients, especially for those who have baseline rosacea and have yet to seek medical treatment for it.
- Folliculitis – Due to the moist and humid environment that comes with mask wearing, yeast or bacteria can infect the hair follicles, giving rise to rashes that may look like acne.
Depending on the symptoms you have and the actual diagnosis of your skin, our aesthetic clinic offers a wide range of acne treatment and laser acne scar removal solutions including AGNES RF, Fractional CO2 laser and Rejuran Healer. From topicals, chemical peels to lasers, our aesthetic doctors can personalise a holistic treatment plan to give you the best, most sustainable results!
Acne outbreaks after COVID-19 vaccination
Another common scenario that we have noticed is the rise in acne breakouts after COVID-19 vaccination. We have had multiple patients that have successfully controlled their acne inform us of acne recurrence after having completed either their first or second dose of COVID-19 vaccination.
While there is a possibility that the acne outbreak was caused by other factors, independent of whether they have recently taken their vaccination; we find the number of occurrences too common to be attributed to coincidences.
As there are currently not many studies or publications establishing a clear link between acne outbreaks and the COVID-19 vaccination, it is hard to safely conclude anything now. Experiencing rashes after COVID-19 vaccination are commonly described but it appears that acne is not one of them. We speculate that after one received the COVID-19 vaccination, the body undergoes an inflammatory process in response to the vaccination that can indirectly affect the skin and lead to an acne outbreak.
Thus, the goal is still to focus on treating any underlying inflammation and taking preventative measures to protect the skin. Moving forward, our doctors will continue to stay updated on the latest research, so that we can better shed light on this association that we have noticed in our clinic.
Additional tips to minimise and prevent maskne
Wearing a face mask remains to be one of the best ways to protect you and your loved ones from COVID-19. Therefore, it is imperative to continue wearing a face mask. On top of that, there are several other strategies that you could adopt as your best defence against daily mask wearing:
1. Avoid reusing disposable masks and throw them after each use. Always have several face masks on hand in case you need a fresh one.
2. Remove your mask every 4 hours. The American Academy of Dermatology Association suggests removing your mask for 15 minutes every four hours. This will disrupt the factors that lead to a moist and warm environment conductive for acne outbreak. Removing of mask should of course be done in an appropriate setting.
3. Wearing a mask may cause skin irritation if your skin is more on the dry side. Apply a non-comedogenic moisturiser before wearing your mask to help hydrate and add an additional protective barrier for your skin.
4. Pick the right face mask that is not too tight but fits snugly to minimise friction against the skin.
5. For reusable masks, avoid masks made of synthetic fabrics, such as nylon or rayon as they can irritate the skin.
6. Wash your face thoroughly after wearing a mask and keep makeup to a minimum.
Offering one of the best acne spot treatment in Singapore, The Clifford Clinic remains committed to resolving your acne and skin concerns. We have established protocols that can help resolve your acne regardless of its underlying cause – so feel free to contact us to get started today!