Breaking out around your mouth area? Here's how to combat 'maskne'

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Now that masks are becoming a part of everyday life, a nasty side effect, in some cases, is breaking out in the wake of COVID-19.

It's called 'maskne'-- breakouts around the mouth area caused by wearing a mask. Luckily, there are some things you can do to sooth the irritation. We spoke with Peter Ehrnstrom, M.D., a dermatologist with the Alaska Center for Dermatology.

"Acne or at least inflammation in these areas can be because the environment around your mouth has changed," said Ehrnstrom. It's now more humid underneath those masks. Whatever you're wearing on your face, whether it's makeup or cologne is now concentrated in that area."

In addition to trapped sweat, oil, and moisture underneath, Ehrnstrom says the way you wash your mask could be adding to the irritation.

"If they're cloth masks, think about avoiding the use of fabric softeners, especially the ones that are in the dryer," said Ehrnstrom. "Wash these things in water. Let them air dry, so there isn't any residue on them that then in concentrated in that area."

The mask is covering your face anyway, so think about skipping the makeup underneath and opt for a layer of a lightweight moisturizer to keep skin hydrated. Doctors say it's also a good idea to was your face before you put the mask on, and after you take it off.

"Some people will get acne, or acne like bumps underneath their mask, even if they do everything correctly," said Ehrnstrom. "So using topical, over the counter acne medications can help with the inflammation, and can decrease it somewhat as well."

Ehernstrom says, bottom line, don't ditch the mask.

"These save lives. It's right to wear them and the inconvenience that we may get out of them is surmountable compared to the benefit we get out of it."

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