If you thought you were finished with acne and bad breath after puberty, 2020 has some fun surprises in store for you: maskne and mask breath.
Maskne is acne caused by wearing a mask. Mask breath, on the other hand, is not actually caused by your mask–but we’ll get into that later.
What causes maskne?
Dr. Liszewski, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medical Group, states that contrary to popular belief, a dirty mask is not the main cause of maskne.
When you cover your nose and mouth with a piece of fabric, a humid environment full of thriving bacteria is created on your skin, leading to breakouts. Regularly cleaning your face coverings is still very important, however, and can certainly help keep your skin clear.
Time spent wearing a mask is also not thought to be correlated with acne development. Dr. Liszewski has noticed that both his patients who simply wear a mask to get groceries and those who wear masks all day at work are at equal risk for maskne.
How to get rid of maskne
The first step towards getting rid of mask-induced breakouts is by reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. Thankfully, this can be done with over-the-counter cleansers that contain between 2 and 5% benzol peroxide.
Simply let the benzol peroxide solution sit on the affected area(s) of your face for 2 – 3 minutes, then rinse away. If you notice your skin becoming increasingly dry, use a non-comedogenic (oil-free) moisturizer after each wash.
Mask breath–maskne’s evil step sister
You’ve seen the memes and commercials, and at this point, you’ve likely experienced it for yourself–mask breath. While nobody else can smell your mask breath, it’s certainly unpleasant to deal with and makes people even more hesitant to wear masks.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the mask that’s causing your bad breath–it’s you. It’s actually been there all along and you’re just now becoming aware of it. Thankfully, by understanding the four main causes of bad breath, you can fix the problem.
1. Foods that contain oils
It’s no secret that certain foods and drinks like garlic, cheese, onion, soda, and orange juice can cause bad breath. But do you know what they all have in common?
Oils. The oils from these foods and beverages travel to your lungs, and in turn, can be smelled on your breath. Cutting oils out of your diet can make a big difference in your breath.
2. Food particles
The food particles that collect in your mouth throughout the day can accumulate underneath your gums and around your teeth. If they’re not removed during your regular brushing and flossing routine, they can combine with bad mouth bacteria and cause diseases that result in bad breath and other dental problems.
3. Dry mouth
Are you rapidly breathing through your mouth when wearing your mask? This could be what’s causing your mask breath. Breathing through the mouth creates dryness that makes it harder for saliva to moisten oral tissues and wash down food particles.
To combat this, experts recommend breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth when you’re wearing a mask.
4. Improper brushing
To avoid bad breath, it’s important to brush your teeth (including your tongue) twice a day for at least one minute. Brushing your tongue is critical because this is where bacteria thrive the most. If you don’t brush it, this bacteria remains and can cause bad breath.
The best way to practice good mask hygiene is to buy washable, breathable masks and change them out frequently. Wearing a face shield is also a viable option that will not create maskne and decreases your risk of mask breath.
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