Dermatologist shares how to protect your skin when wearing face coverings

Wearing a face covering is now an essential part of our day-to-day lives. In Ireland, you must wear a face covering on public transport, in supermarkets and in places where you cannot physically distance.

We all know just how important it is to wear face coverings, but a lot of us have noticed that wearing them has caused problems with our skin, which is never pleasant.

I spoke to dermatologist Sreedhar Krishna about breakouts and what we can do to prevent them as we adjust to this new way of living.

She explained that the face coverings can impair the skin's ability to breathe. “Our skin is a wonderful organ and produces a variety of chemicals through sebum (the oily substance on our skin). If this sebum is kept trapped against the skin in a humid environment (i.e. under a mask), it provides a nice environment for bugs to live, such as bacteria and yeast. Additionally, the constant friction caused by a tight mask can inflame hair follicles and lead to spots.

Avoiding breakouts is tricky, but it is possible, “Ensuring that any make-up products are lightweight, mineral-based and if possible, containing antioxidants to prevent free-radical damage to the skin. Ensure that you cleanse and nourish the skin after use. Try and have mask-free periods- safely, of course!”

“If you are using a reusable mask, make sure that you are washing it at 60 degrees to prevent bacteria colonising the inside of your mask. Consider washing the skin with Dermol 500 lotion which contains antibacterial properties and is designed for sensitive skin. 

“Despite coronavirus, medical help is still possible for acne and skin issues and I would tend to recommend seeing either your local doctor or a consultant dermatologist if you’re concerned about your skin.

One thing we all need to do is to stay hydrated. Krishna shared: “Good hydration will help you maintain good skin health, as well as taking the strain off your ever-loyal kidneys.”

It’s important to remember that wearing a face covering helps combat the spread of COVID-19. Washing your hands, social distancing and staying home is also vital in stopping the virus from spreading further.

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