Q&A: Treating teen ‘mask-ne’ during COVID-19
Wearing a mask has become a normal aspect of life for many in the U.S. because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many students going back to school, masks have been required for in-person instruction.
While a mask may help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, it can have a negative impact on the skin underneath the mask. And the problem can be even worse for teenagers, who already are dealing with regular acne problems.
Healio spoke with Sandra Marchese Johnson, MD, FAAD, a board certified dermatologist at Johnson Dermatology in Fort Smith, Arkansas, about how to mitigate these problems.
Q. What skin problems can continuous mask wearing cause, especially in teenagers?
A. The biggest issues are caused by friction and the area under the mask staying moist.
Q. Are teenagers more susceptible to acne problems? Why is that?
A. They are more susceptible because of hormonal surges that occur in most people between the ages of 9 and 20 years.
Q. What steps can kids take to prevent acne or other problems underneath the mask?
A. Try to limit friction from the mask by wearing a good-fitting mask. Do not use benzoyl peroxide under the mask. Wash with an antidandruff shampoo or sulfur bar cleanser. Eating yogurt or taking probiotics may help. Consider using diaper cream on the skin underneath the mask, and limit moisturizers. Clotrimazole or another anti-yeast cream may also be considered. Some of the acne under the mask is actually aggravated perioral dermatitis, which is due to yeast and irritation. Also, avoid red dye, tartar control toothpaste and tooth whiteners.
Q. What should they do if they experience a problem with their skin?
A. In addition to the above recommendations, teenagers can see a dermatologist for a prescription for Soolantra cream (ivermectin, Galderma), which has antiparasitic properties.
Q. Why is it important to continue wearing a mask, even if someone is having skin problems?
A. The mask should be worn out of kindness for your fellow humans to limit spread of infection, to protect yourself and because it is the right thing to do right now.