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VERIFY: Reusing the same face mask can cause acne breakouts

Wearing a mask can be uncomfortable after awhile, and reusing the same mask without properly washing it can have some unsightly effects on your skin

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a mask can help slow the spread of COVID-19. 

If you've worn one long enough, you'll know it’s a little uncomfortable, but can reusing the same mask cause acne breakouts?

Yvonne Thomas spoke to board-certified dermatologist Matthew Doppelt, and consulted both the National Library of Medicine and CDC to find out.

Is ‘Maskne’ the new acne? Let’s look at the facts.

First, what is ‘Maskne’?

“What happens is that you have an irritation from the mask,” said Dr. Matthew Doppelt. “That causes inflammation. It causes irritation of the follicles and starts to promote the acne to form.”

Maskne is also known as Acne Mechanica. It may be new to many of us, but it’s not a new condition.

According to the National Library of Medicine, Acne Mechanica is caused by pressure, friction, rubbing, squeezing, or stretching. 

Causes include articles of clothing like belts or straps, or recreational accouterments like the strap on a football helmet.

If the fabric itself isn’t irritating your skin, reusing the same mask without washing it could also cause breakouts.

“Microorganisms love a warm and moist environment,” Doppelt said. “That’s what this does. It’s provides a perfect growth medium for bacteria to form.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. You should also wash your hands after handling or touching a used face covering.

“We definitely want to make sure we are washing our face twice a day,” said Doppelt. “If you can tolerate it, over the counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic washes are good. Some people can’t tolerate that, so maybe look for a mask with sulfur. It doesn’t smell pretty good, but it eliminates the bacteria.”

So, we can verify, reusing a mask multiple times can cause ‘Maskne.’

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