Our healthcare workers are putting in extended hours wearing PPE (Personal protective equipment) on their faces that is irritating and damaging their skin. The physical toll that it takes compounded with the mental stress is terrible and we all want to support them in any way possible. Below are some of the most common issues as well as some tips and possible solutions to face mask skin irritation that may provide relief to our most valuable essential workers battle COVID-19.
Blocked Pores & Acne Due to Face Mask:
Breakouts of acne are due to blockages in the pores and hair follicles. N95 masks need to fit tight and are often worn for hours and hours under stressful conditions. Moisture and friction will eventually breakdown skin. Prepping your skin by cleansing your face with a gentle soap, then using a good quality moisturizer that is non-comedogenic (formulated to not caused blocked pores) before putting on will keep your skin pliable and clean prior to putting on your mask. Avoid scrubs, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. If as you decrease the time wearing the mask the acne is still present, contact your dermatologist for more recommendations.
Contact Dermatitis around Face Masks:
In more extreme and uncomfortable cases where heat, sweat, and friction occur on the contact points of the mask contact dermatitis may occur. This may initially present as a red, itchy rash. Doctors will suggest something like hydrocortisone, or the use of a gentle face cleanser and avoiding rubbing the face or friction on the area as much as possible.
Dawn Davis, a dermatologist with the Mayo Clinic suggests “using hypoallergenic soaps and washing hands and face in warm — not scalding — water. Pat dry, using linen or cotton, less abrasive than a paper towel…. Davis also likes zinc oxide — which fights inflammation — the same stuff lifeguards put on their noses to prevent sunburn, and parents put on babies’ bottoms to treat diaper rash. Put a thin layer in facial areas where the mask rubs.” Article Here.
In the present situation, frequent applications may be impossible so the only answer would be a physical barrier to provide protection.
Some masks have a metal wire along the nose bridge. That metal is often nickel which can cause a reaction. Other masks include a strip of adhesive which may also cause an allergic reaction. Some fabrics are treated with formaldehyde during shipping to keep insects away and that may trigger an allergic reaction. Some experts recommend a thin layer of non-comedogenic face lotion may act as a barrier between the mask and the skin, but after time will wear off.
Hy-Tape Can Act as a Barrier Between the Mask and Skin
Hy-Tape is a thin, conforming tape known for its gentle release from the skin. It can be applied in difficult areas like the bridge of the nose, or being the ears. Long term care givers appreciate how Hy-Tape prevents skin tears on their patients who are often subject to repeat tapings on thin frail skin. The adhesive in Hy-Tape is infused with zinc-oxide. The zinc is known to prevent oil formation, shrinks pores, and soothe irritated skin. Applying a layer of tape between the skin and mask will shield the area from friction as well as possible irritants in the mask itself.
If you or a loved one is on the front line and is having trouble face mask skin irritation and how it makes contact with their face, we hope that you would contact us for a sample of Hy-Tape to see if it works.