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Wear a mask, but take steps to prevent ‘maskne’, skin problems: Winnipeg dermatologist

Click to play video: 'How to treat and prevent mask acne' How to treat and prevent mask acne
Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Vincent Richer joins Global News Morning live via Skype to discuss the skin problems that can occur from wearing a mask – Jul 13, 2020

Wearing a mask might be irritating in more ways that one, but a Winnipeg dermatologist says there are ways to avoid skin problems while staying safe during the pandemic.

Dr. Marni Wiseman of Skinwise Dermatology told 680 CJOB the increased use of masks has many Winnipeggers complaining of mask-associated acne — or “maskne.”

“We are unquestionably seeing quite a bit of effects from people wearing masks,” said Wiseman.

Read more: ‘Maskne’ — How to prevent acne and other skin problems caused by face masks

“That being said, with the situation we’re in with the pandemic, I think we can all agree that the benefit from wearing the masks outweighs what we’re seeing on the skin.

“What we’re advising people is to wear the masks, wear them well, and wear them appropriately — but take care of the skin.”

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Wiseman said she recommends people choose reusable cotton masks and wash them often, or go with disposable masks that can be changed on a regular basis.

People should think of their masks, she said, as being like underwear — something that needs to be changed and washed regularly.

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“It’s against their mouth, they’re breathing in it — it’s getting the oils and the dirt, and it’s sitting there all day.”

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg virologist gives face mask how-to' Winnipeg virologist gives face mask how-to
Winnipeg virologist gives face mask how-to – Aug 20, 2020

When it comes to skincare products, Wiseman said she recommends gentle cleansers and fragrance-free moisturizers, as well as a limited amount of makeup.

“I say to people, ‘Try to break up with makeup.’ It’s easier said than done… but unquestionably with makeup, less is more, particularly when wearing masks.”

If you’re using products or prescriptions with active medication, she said, wear them at night if possible.

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Toronto dermatologist Dr. Sonya Abdulla previously told Global News that masks can bring about a number of skin issues, whether someone is wearing one all day while at work, or just for a short time when they go out shopping.

Read more: ‘This is not the time to be selfish’: How face masks became a mirror of humanity amid COVID-19

“With the introduction of masks, we’re creating an environment that promotes inflammation, where we’re getting a disruption of the skin barrier from the occlusion of the increased moisture from the mouth,” said Abdulla.

Due to the summer heat and humidity, putting on a mask can create an environment on one’s face that increases sweat, leading to a “perfect storm” that causes skin inflammation, she said.

And it’s not only ‘maskne’ — other acne-like skin conditions can also arise due to wearing a mask, including perioral dermatitis and rosacea.

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