Having a problem with breakouts from masks, or other skin health issues? You’re not alone. Wearing a mask in public per the CDC’s guidelines is the right thing to do to help curb the spread of Covid-19, but it can wreak havoc on the skin—many of us have started experiencing dermatitis and acne in the areas covered by our masks.
The issue is not necessarily that wearing masks are creating new symptoms—though that could be true if you are experiencing extremely dry or raw skin—but more that the skincare routines you may have relied upon to suppress these symptoms are no longer working in the new environment masks have created on the skin.
The second annual microbiome conference was held in San Francisco recently. The talks ranged from scientists investigating individual microbial species that call the skin microbiome their home, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Proprionibacterium acnes, to entrepreneurs with biome-based products designed to improve skin health.
Welcome to the new era of acne, where more and more people experience breakouts for the first time as adults—sometimes even into their fifties and sixties. How lucky that we get to worry about aging and acne simultaneously! According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 54% of women over the age of 25 have some facial acne. And research at The International Dermal Institute indicates that the type of acne that arises in adulthood is different than that which plagues teenage years—adult acne is more likely to be inflammatory with lesions primarily located around the mouth, chin and jaw line, and with fewer comedones (whiteheads).
Suppose some of the approximately one trillion microorganisms that live on your skin are finding their living conditions objectionable, even intolerable. How would they let you, their god-like host, know about it? If you were a commensal microbe living on the skin, Staphylococcus epidermidis, for example, and you just wanted to go about your business keeping your little part of the world relatively pathogen-free, you might consider sending a message in the form of an acne breakout, a rosacea flush or an undesirable rash.
Warmer days and brilliant bouquets are around the corner. But for allergy sufferers, springtime is no picnic. Those joyful transitions can also translate into an annual ritual of sneezing, sniffling and itchy skin. The first step toward relief is to identify your position on the rash spectrum and to remember that pollen in the air is only one factor in the skin irritation equation.