Your mask is a double-edged sword.
Along with social distancing, mask-wearing has been proven to be an effective measure to protect yourself (and others) from contracting or spreading the coronavirus.
Since March, our faces have been guarded by numerous different kinds of masks — from the make-shift cloths when there was a mask shortage earlier to the more stylish, reusable masks that can be seen matching outfits on a Friday night out. Athletic brands have outfitted their own, designed to help people exercise comfortably while not choking on material.
At a presentation at this year’s American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting, researchers said that a patient had developed signification skin allergies due to wearing a mask, which “triggered his contact dermatitis.”
“We treated a 60-year-old Black man with adult-onset eczema, contact dermatitis and chronic nasal allergies in our clinic after he presented three times to our hospital emergency room (ER) because of an uncomfortable face rash,” Allergist Yashu Dhamija, MD, ACAAI said in a press release. “Up until April 2020, his skin conditions had been under control, but with mask-wearing, his symptoms began occurring in areas that providers were not yet accustomed to.”
The patient was prescribed a drug called prednisone for the rash by ER doctors in his first visit, but symptoms did not improve, which is when the patient had a Telehealth follow up visit, which found that the skin allergies had started in April this year, which is at the beginning of the pandemic.
Researchers said that allergenic that can affect contact dermatitis can be found in masks, elastic bands, and other parts of face masks. For people with existing skin conditions, this can cause problems and trigger symptoms.
“We realized that his rash appeared right where the elastic parts of a mask would rest,” Allergist Kristin Schmidlin, MD, said about the patient. “We tapered down the prednisone and advised him to use a topical steroid and a topical immunosuppressant until the rash resolved. We also told him to use cotton-based, dye-free masks without elastic. At a follow up telephone visit one week later, the patient said his rash continued to improve.”
Weird skin conditions have been plaguing people since the start of the pandemic. “Maskne” — or acne caused from wearing a mask — has been on the rise since March.
“[Masks] can cause a lot of humidity and sweat,” Dermatologist Nava Greenfield told Ladders earlier this year. “The build-up of that inside the mask is not really great for cleaning out your sweat glands and making sure that things are adequately cleaned. When that moisture is there for a long period of time, it can cause breakouts.”
Experts suggest exfoliating multiple times a week to help rid away dead skin, which can cause skin irritation.