How to Care for Your Skin if You Wear a PPE Mask

Skin Care for PPE Masks

Slowly but surely we are coming through this crisis. I live in North Carolina and we are starting Phase One of slowly coming out of lockdown. I have looked at my state’s planned future phases, and I see that it will be recommended to wear masks weeks if not months after lockdown. While wearing a mask can protect us, it can wreak havoc on our skin and cause breakouts and other irritations.

The skin is your body’s largest organ. The skin’s main purpose is to keep germs from entering your body and to sustain your immune system. To keep your skin healthy you need to protect it just as much as it protects you.

  1. First and foremost: always wash your hands with soap and water after removing your mask.
  2. Always wash your face before and after wearing your mask. Start with a gentle soap then make sure to apply a moisturizer shortly after cleansing. Next, thinly apply a product that has zinc in it such as a gentle diaper rash cream like Desitin. This helps protect the moisture barrier of your skin. The Renee Rouleau blog defines this as the “ outermost layer of the skin that provides protection to help retain water and moisture and defend against external irritants like bacteria and environmental debris from penetrating through and causing sensitive reactions”
  3. Also try to avoid makeup if you can, especially heavy foundations and concealers. These combined with the moisture inside your mask can cause your skin to produce an extra amount of an oily secretion called sebum which can increase your chances of having clogged pores and breakouts.
  4. During the time you must wear a mask, try not to use any strong cleansers or exfoliators. You may be tempted to use these products to tackle your skin issues but in the end they are harsh and more than likely will make your skin worse. Stick with gentle cleansers and use extra soft washcloths. If you use Retinol avoid using it for the time being as well as it can make your skin more easily bothered.
  5. If you are presently experiencing a breakout, you can use a cleanser with salicylic acid. Salicylic acid helps remove dirt and bacteria that has built up on your skin throughout the day. It’s a great way to remove dead skin cells from your skin while avoiding a harsh exfoliant. If this is the first time that you have had a breakout or if your breakout looks different than it normally does, contact your doctor or dermatologist just to be safe.