As the world reopens for business once more, wearing a facial covering or mask has been touted as one way to combat the spread of COVID-19. Most public places, such as grocery stores and other essential locations are recommending or mandating that customers and visitors cover their mouth and nose. Meanwhile health care workers and those practitioners in clinics and Spa’s in many cases have to wear P.P E including a mask for the duration of the shift or treatment.
With this in mind, we have to talk about how it can affect our skin as the environment for the peri-oral area of your skin will be changing. Let’s look at what the health professionals are saying.
Heather W Goff MD, MPH associate professor of Dermatology says that “as a result, the skin on the face can suffer negative consequences from constant covering”
Moisture and vapor, as well as any secretions such as saliva and mucus, are trapped in the mask. This can act as an irritant, upsetting the natural balance of the skin around the mouth resulting in the up swing of cases seeking treatment for perioral dermatitis. It manifests as rashes, redness, irritation and scaling around the mouth. Often it can be accompanied by clusters of tiny pimples or papules.
Dr. Adam Friedman, a professor at The George Washington School of Medicine described the effects that he personally is having as a result of wearing the mask all day. He explains for most, that the common issue is facial redness in the geometric distribution of the mask, with the greatest prominence at the border, so people are getting a lovely oval red outline. These areas are very tender to the touch and a lot of regular creams that you would apply, actually sting as the skin barrier has been disrupted and in setting off the inflammation, the sensory nerves are hypersensitive to external stimuli.