Face masks are on the top of the list of the paraphernalia for the prevention of the infectious coronavirus. Amid the continuous rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, it’s always better to wear a mask before you venture out in public.
However, prolonged usage of a face mask can cause some problems in your skin around the cheeks and nose. For better protection, a snugly fitted face mask is highly recommended.
But, the tighter a mask, the more chances of skin irritation. The situation becomes tough for frontline health workers who spend several hours a day wearing masks. Researchers at the University of Huddersfield in West Yorkshire conducted a study on the same and warned about skin damage because of face masks.
Why Face Mask Is Essential
According to experts, we all emit small particles to the air when we cough, sneeze, talk, or even just breathe. These particles can carry viruses that cause COVID-19. The spread of these particles can be reduced with the proper use of face masks.
For How Long One Can Easily Wear Face Mask
HealthWire spoke to Dr Satish Bhatia – MD Dermatology & Skin Surgery, Indian Cancer Society – to find out what are major reasons for skin irritations while wearing masks and what can be done to avoid it.
Check out the guidance below on how to handle and wear your face mask correctly. At SGS we welcome learners to wear face coverings in classrooms, although it is not mandatory. #safety #inthistogether #sgscollege #who #protect #prevent #covid19 pic.twitter.com/Xq4NMJqzzZ
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According to Dr Bhatia, usually putting a mask for 4-5 hours should not be a problem, if the material that the mask is made of doesn’t irritate your skin. He said that it is recommended to wear masks where you expect to be around people or in public places but, whenever you are in an isolated situation or at home you can remove the mask.
Why Mask Can Be Irritating
There are various factors that can be responsible for this like the material of the mask, how comfortable the mask is, period of mask-wearing, and others.
“Wearing masks for a long time, where breathing is being trapped in the mask leads to the creation of a lot of heat and humidity formation, which in turn leads to the formation of sebum and sweat. This causes rashes, eczema, and acne among the patients,” the dermatologist said.
How To Mitigate This
According to the expert, using cotton masks that allow for proper breathing can mitigate this problem.
“You need not change your skincare routine. Use a pH balanced cleanser such as Cetaphil, Bio-derma, or even Sebamed, etc. You can use a non-comedogenic moisturizer, which do not block the pores,” he said
“Use the makeup very infrequently, because the makeup or concealers block up the pores and this leads to comedonal acne. Please do not bleach your skin as while washing your skin with detergent, your skin may end up with irritant eczema,” the doctor added.
It Can Cause Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers or sores are localised damage to the skin that usually occurs as a result of long-term pressure on the skin in combination with friction. This is one of the most common types of damage that occurs because of prolonged use of masks. This causes scars and sometimes increases the risk of infection and sepsis.
“Long-term use of high end synthetic masks could lead to irritating the skin. Especially around the cheeks and nose, one may find tearing of skin due to sweat and friction generated by the mask. It might be a cause of infection and result in damaged skin,” Dr Bhatia said.
Wash Your Reusable Mask
According to experts, reusable cloth masks must be disinfected and cleaned after each use. Some of them suggest that one should wait for at least two days before using it again.
“Reusable masks can be washed separately in hot soapy water by hands and at least for 20 seconds or more. These can be dried in high heat using a heater and should be store in a clean place, when you are not using them. While removing or putting these masks, you should sanitise your hands,” the doctor explained.