Wearing masks can make skin more sensitive and acne-prone, says doctor

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While still relatively contained, the coronavirus outbreak is still prevalent in Singapore, and wearing a mask during this period has become more common than ever.

And while the government has urged the public to only wear masks when unwell, some people still opt to don the masks despite not showing symptoms.

Whether or not being sick is the reason for wearing a mask, a doctor warns that the constant wearing of these can affect our skin health.


However, the increased exposure to masks has led some individuals to experience sensitive and acne-prone skin in the area just below their masks.

While there could be a variety of reasons, doctor Zhou Ke Jia from Paragon Medical Center said that it originates from the breathability of masks.

When we breathe in and out, the temperature and humidity within the masked area increases, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to breed.

This causes the skin to become more sensitive and easily clogged, said Dr. Zhou. Besides, leaving masks on for over long periods also leaves imprints on the skin.

As such, Dr. Zhou advises that it is crucial not to neglect skincare during this epidemic prevention period to maintain skin health.

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As a rule of thumb, always moisturise.

Moisturising daily reduces the chances of our skin being extremely dry or oily. In the face of either extremely dry or oily skin, it could cause or further aggravate skin conditions such as acne. Especially in warm climates such as Singapore, our Asian skin naturally produces more oil, leading us to be more acne-prone.

It is about consistent efforts over time and this practice should not be skipped if you are seeking healthy and blemish-free skin. Besides, moisturising daily helps to camouflage blemishes on the skin, as it gives off a slight sheen.

The best times to use a moisturiser is after a bath, shave or exfoliation.

Here are simple ways you can prepare your skin before wearing a mask to protect damage to your skin.

  • Apply a thin layer of light water-based moisturiser, best after a bath
  • Choose a lighter foundation than what you will normally use, preferably mineral-based, so as to prevent clogged pores

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  • Wash your face immediately after removing your entire makeup, including grease, dead skin and bacteria built up from the day
  • Use a water-based moisturiser to nourish your skin
  • Put on a translucent mask. Doing so soothes your skin and helps it to detox.
  • If putting on a mask for longer periods of time, it is suggested to carry out deep-cleansing.

Always remember to pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it off with a towel to maintain your skin's natural moisture.

That said, wearing a mask is just one of the factors to affecting skin health.

Here are other tips to consider for a healthier skin, as well as to promote overall vitality.

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  • Hydrate, and drink sufficient amount of water (2 litres a day), especially before meals. Not just for better skin, water has health-boosting benefits such as decreasing the risk of kidney stones.
  • Use mild soaps and detergents - avoid those that contain alcohol, and opt for fragrance-free cleansers
  • Take care of your hands - don't underestimate the use of hand cream
  • Watch out for hot water during showers - try using warm water and shower for a shorter period of time
  • Get enough sleep, as far as possible

We hope that this article has provided you with tips on how to better care for your skin health during this time. While it might not entirely prevent skin conditions due to mask use, it is a good practice for overall health.

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This article was first published in theAsianparent.