7 things to know about Covid mask related problems, infections, rashes, acne, etc.

What the best products and protocols to address skin irritation and acne from wearing a mask for 8+ hours per day during COVID?

Oh yeah!  We are all doing the same at our clinic and are seeing a surprising number of patients with mask related problems.  If you really want to try OTC hydrocortisone, please use for no more than 3-7 days once or twice a day.  Remember that cortisones take the red out, so it looks better, but act as fertilizer for yeasts and bacteria and make them worse in the long run.

Covid mask related problems:

  • Increased oiliness and acne breakouts
  • Skin yeast over growth
  • Staph (meaning staphlococcus aureus or MRSA, not staph epidermidis),  and other bacterial infections,
  • Irritation
  • Allergic problems.

Here are the top 7!

  1. If you are a health care worker, salon worker or anyone wearing a mask many hours a day, consider getting a culture done from the nose for staph by your doctor.  Because 10-20% of us are silent staph carriers, it can creep down on the skin with the warm, moist environment of a mask.  Hence the Q-tip like swab is done just inside the opening of the nose.  Consequently, this is not like the Covid cultures and is not painful.
  2.  Wash your cloth mask every day.  Besides that, it’s best to have several that you can rotate to keep them clean.  Wash in hot, not cold water.
  3.  Change your medical grade masks several times a day. One of our patients literally had mold growing in hers from trying to reuse it too many times.
  4.  For oil and acne, try using a benzoyl peroxide, or another acne wipe 2-3 times a day when you lunch or take a break.  Consider not using moisturizer for awhile under the mask area to see if that helps.
  5. For irritation, check for fit.  Constant rubbing is the most common reason, and the bridge of the nose is the worst.  Try several different types of masks until you find one that fits well.  A little vaseline may do the trick also. Your employer will usually be able to get them, if you’re in healthcare.
  6. Rash… if you have a rash under your mask, get a bacterial culture done. You may have to persuade your doc, but insist, because it’s much better to get an accurate diagnosis before treating.
  7. Allergic reactions.  These can be to detergent residues on the cloth masks, or even to the dyes like disperse blue often used in denim masks.

Hope this helps,

Dr. B


Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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