Face masks are becoming the new norm with the rise in COVID-19 cases worldwide. We look at how you can protect your skin from any damage while wearing them.
Disclaimer: We at Au Natural Skin food believe that everyone should follow the health guidelines necessary to fight against Covid-19. This article by no means is meant to discourage anyone from wearing a face mask. Instead, it is an attempt to emphasize benefits of wearing them and show ways to combat skin damage that may occur.
Many countries and states are now mandating wearing masks in public, and for good reason. Studies have shown that they reduce the transmission rate of COVID-19. Face masks block respiratory droplets from entering the air or spreading as far as they would without a mask. Since COVID-19 is highly contagious and can be fatal or lead to serious health problems, stopping the spread is crucial. As such, Wearing a mask is now mandatory for longer periods of time especially while at work. This leads to minor skin damage which can be repaired.
For most people, wearing a mask is a new experience. Some people find masks to be uncomfortable, which can lead to resistance to wearing them. Even doctors and nurses are experiencing discomfort caused by wearing masks for unprecedented amounts of time. They may routinely don masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of their jobs. But under normal circumstances, the PPE would be frequently changed or they would take breaks from wearing one. Unfortunately, a worldwide shortage of masks means that they must wear them for prolonged periods of time without changing.
Regardless of where you work, if you are expected to wear a mask for your entire workday, you’ve probably experienced some discomfort. You may feel hot and sweaty. Your mask may become damp. It may feel more difficult to breathe. Your skin may become irritated, or maybe you’ve noticed acne developing under your mask. You may also be wondering if wearing a mask is damaging to your health. Let’s first take a look at some myths related to wearing a mask.
Good News! Face masks are not dangerous
The good news is wearing a face mask is not dangerous. There are a plethora of false claims circulating about masks interfering with oxygen intake, causing carbon dioxide to build up, or leading to lung damage and infection. Fortunately, none of these claims are true. Doctors have taken to the Internet to demonstrate that wearing a mask will not cause your oxygen levels to drop. While you may feel like you are having a more difficult time breathing, physiologically speaking, there’s no change.
Doctors also say that claims of medical reasons not to wear a mask are mostly false and overstated. If you do have a condition that impacts your breathing, doctors recommend staying at home as much as possible. But if you had to go out, choosing times that are least likely to affect your breathing (such as cooler weather, lower humidity, and better air quality), choosing a mask that is breathable and moisture wicking, and practicing wearing the mask at home, are some ways to get around the issues.
What About Skin Damage?
Skin damage, on the other hand, is a real concern. You may have seen the poignant photos shared by doctors and nurses of the damage caused to their faces by wearing one mask for long shifts. While this was an extraordinary example caused by a shortage of PPE that forced health care professionals not to change their masks as often as they ordinarily would, face masks can cause skin damage to varying degrees even when worn in less extreme circumstances.
The type of skin damage you are likely to experience depends on how long you wear your mask, what the material is made from, and how your mask fits. Doctors and nurses in high-risk situations wear N95 respirators, which must form a tight seal to their faces in order to protect them. They are more likely than other types of masks to cause skin irritation and damage because of the tight fit. In studies, N95 respirators increase skin pH, hydration, water lost through the skin, skin redness, and oil secretions. Overall, N95s are rated as the most uncomfortable type of mask, but are also the most effective and are essential for health care workers in high-risk situations.
Surgical masks are more breathable and were associated with fewer skin reactions. In many areas, only cloth masks are available and recommended for the general public. The American Academy of Dermatology acknowledges that the use of face masks may result in skin dryness, acne, and irritation, but stresses that you should continue to wear a mask to protect yourself and others, even if you develop skin problems.
What Can You Do?
If you are experiencing skin damage, there are several things you can do to help.
|Cracked, raw, skin.||Experiment with different masks & fit.|
|Broken Skin.||Try petroleum jelly or good barrier cream.|
|Irritation behind ears.||Use Mask that ties or adds buttons to hat or headband.|
|Health Care Workers -More protection.||Try kinesiology tape as an additional barrier.|
|Sweaty skin after wearing a mask.||Gently cleanse skin after removing the mask to prevent salt build up on the skin.|
For acne, dryness, and other skin irritation, make sure you are choosing a breathable fabric. Merino wool and cotton are equally gentle to the skin and helps keep moisture off your face. When we sweat, salt residue is left on our skin. When it dries it alters our pH and causes irritation, redness. It’s important to wash your mask every day to keep bacteria from building up. You should use the warmest water and highest heat setting for drying that is recommended for the type of fabric you use. If you are experiencing irritation, try choosing laundry detergent that is free from fragrances and other harsh chemicals.
Make sure to wash your face with a gentle cleanser to help remove oil build up. You may want to skip wearing makeup under your mask if you are experiencing acne. Use a moisturizer 30 minutes prior to putting your mask on and again at night to help protect your skin and replenish moisture that has been lost through sweating. If you have both acne and irritation, you may want to avoid harsh treatments like scrubs, peels, and salicylic acid, and instead opt to spot-treat your acne. Changing your mask frequently can also help, particularly if it starts to feel damp.
If you are experiencing skin problems from wearing a mask, we invite you to consider trying Au Natural Skinfood. Our products contain concentrated Active 16+ medical grade Manuka honey, which is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has been clinically proven to help speed wound healing. Try Prepare to help clean your skin and strengthen its microbiome, PM Night Cream to help heal your skin, and On the Spot for acne.
Try using our Remove Cleanser rich in Manuka honey, to gently remove surface debris and at the same time deeply hydrate and protect your skin.
I have found using Karen Walker anti-pollution face masks made from New Zealand Merino Wool with filters really work well for me any my family, this mask offers superior filtration whilst being highly breathable, sweat is absorbed and skin integrity is maintained, please note I am in no way incentivised to share this information, in fact I have been using these masks since they were released a couple of years ago for when I travel internationally especially into China.
Remember this is not a solo mission, I am here to help and want to support you on your journey to healthy skin, please contact me directly through [email protected] I would love to hear your experience and answer any questions that you might have.
Tracy – Founder
P.S. Check out my new favourite product our DEFEND hand sanitiser defending you from germs naturally.