Dermatologist gives some tips on how to avoid skin irritation while wearing masks

Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 10:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Everyone in the state of Virginia is now mandated to wear a mask to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. However, wearing those masks can often cause irritation to the skin, especially wearing them long periods of time.

People wearing these masks can often experience redness, itching, tenderness, and other irritation symptoms, but here are a few tips to help keep your skin safe while having to wear it. Skin irritation from a mask grows the more you wear a mask. When you breathe you create humidity that creates moisture and heat.

“It helps to number one have a mask that fits you well, not too tight or too loose. It also helps to have the right kind of mask,” Dermatologist Mark Russell said.

It is also important to know how to properly wear the mask.

“We have people who wear their masks upside down or they've had them partially folded and that causes irritation,” Russell said.

Doctors say it helps to not wear makeup, perfumes, or anything that has dyes or preservatives underneath the mask.

“You can wash your face with mild soap and water with a moisturizing soap, lukewarm water, and pat it dry. You can apply a gentle face moisturizer over your skin, especially where your mask will rest over your face,” Russell said.

If you have a self-made mask, make sure the fabric is gentle and wash out any laundry detergents and fabric softeners.

“Particularly irritated places on the skin like the bridge of the nose or the behind the ears or chin, you can use a zinc oxide cream, something like Desitin,” Russell said.

If you have problems with the masks irritating your ears, you have a few options.

“You can get masks that have ties, so they don't come around the back of your ears, or you can get accessories that put the ear loops around something besides your ear,” Russell said.

If you start to have irritation such as rash-like acne or other conditions that are not getting better, contact a dermatologist for either a telehealth visit or in-person visit to get it under control.

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