Skin Problems while Wearing Masks

Shahnaz Husain
With the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the wearing of masks is not only life-saving, but also mandatory. It is absolutely necessary for protection. But, it is also essential to keep in mind a few important points. Even if you are wearing a mask, you still have to follow all the other protocols strictly. Maintain social distancing. You must also continue washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizers. Do not touch your face with the hands. Wear gloves when you go out, so that you are safe from the germs on door handles or elevator buttons. Do not wear a mask while exercising.
Constant wearing of masks can also cause some problems. The mask may trap oil and sweat deposits from the skin, or cause a collection of stale breath in the mask. Cotton material is considered to be best for masks, as it allows proper ventilation and traps less moisture that builds up from breathing and sweating. Synthetic materials should not be used to make masks. The mask should also fit properly, so that it provides adequate protection and should not be too tight. With cotton masks, you can wash them easily and dry them in the sun.
Constant wearing of masks can also lead to skin irritation, due to collection of stale air, carbon dioxide, even saliva and mucous inside the masks. It can even lead to a kind of dermatitis, which will need medical attention. The constant wearing of masks can also cause lack of humidity and dryness of the skin around the mouth area. Yet another problem is that the mask trapping oil and sweat deposits from the skin can lead to an acne condition. For rashes and allergic reactions, it is better to consult a dermatologist.
Wearing a mask for long hours, while being outdoors, in the sun, can also lead to partial tanning of the skin, making it look discoloured and patchy, with a difference in colour on the skin in the mask area and the outside the area of the mask. The area outside the mask may become tanned and, therefore, darker than the area covered by the mask. One needs to carry out treatments that help to produce an even colour tone. First of all, apply a sun block cream on the exposed area before going out in the sun. If your skin is oily, use a sunscreen gel. Anti-tan sunscreens are available.
You can try some home remedies to remove tan naturally:
Take 2 teaspoons yogurt, add a pinch of turmeric, mix well and apply daily on the part outside the mask area. Wash it off after 20 minutes. This would help to remove tan in the area that is not covered by masks.
If there is dryness on the area covered by the mask, apply aloe vera gel daily and wash with plain water after 20 minutes.
Using a facial scrub helps to remove tan too. If the skin is dry, a scrub should be used only once a week, but for oily skins, it may be used more often. The scrub should be applied and rubbed gently on the skin with small circular movements. Then wash it off with plain water. This helps to remove dead skin cells, along with their contained pigment. The skin becomes brighter and the tan is gradually removed.
Ground almonds make a good facial scrub. Add a little curd or cold milk to two teaspoons ground almonds and rub the mixture gently on the skin. Wash it off with water.
Also, needless to say, one should take better care of the skin. Cleansing the skin at night is most important. Apply a cream that provides daytime coverage and also soothes the skin. We recommend mixing a sandalwood cover cream with a moisturiser and applying it before wearing the mask.
Do not wear your mask constantly. Remove the mask whenever you are on your own, or while driving your car, specially an air conditioned car.