A side effect that might not be the first to think about in the COVID-19 pandemic concerns wearing masks. Maskne refers to acne as a result of wearing facial masks. It can be avoided by using silicone-based mask forms to reduce skin-mask-contact and adopting a cleansing routine, and can potentially be treated with bacterial phages and probiotics.

Skin irritations from rubbing, friction, and pressure can contribute to a damaged skin barrier causing acne. How to prevent and treat maskne? Dr Zoe Draelos (Duke University, USA) shared preventive options, including the use of silicone shields that can be inserted in masks for people suffering from maskne [1]. These shields give a form to the mask and keep the mask out of the face which helps preventing food, bacteria, and cosmetics getting inside the mask. In addition to these mask forms, frequently washing the face can contribute to a speedy recovery. As part of maskne prevention, Dr Draelos recommended properly cleansing the skin, not wearing make-up, and staying away from botanical oils that can lead to irritation.

Concerning treatment options, bacterial phages that kill the acne can be considered. Recent research on modifying the microbiome of the face demonstrated benefits of phage application in the treatment of acne. However, more studies are needed on the phages’ function and its use in anti-acne products. In addition to the role of phages, a better understanding of the skin microbiome is key in the development of topical probiotics for acne, as these may restore skin microflora and decrease acne lesions.

  1. Draelos Z. AAD VMX 2021, 23-25 April.