Lifestyle

Suffering from face mask irritation? Here’s what you need to know

Posted on : 22.09.2020

Face masks play a vital role in minimising the spread of COVID-19, but they can also be harsh on your skin, as more and more Australians are beginning to discover.

Now mandatory in Victoria, face masks are also being recommended across Australia when social distancing is not possible[1] in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. Although research shows that face masks can help to substantially reduce the risk of infection[2], they can also cause various skin problems, including acne, contact dermatitis and pressure effects, as well as exacerbate any underlying skin conditions[3], like rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis. 

The cause is three-fold. Firstly, the increased temperature under a face mask can cause a rise in sebum (oil) secretion, which can lead to pimples and breakouts. Secondly, exhaling into a mask can cause condensation, which increases moisture content on the skin and could lead to irritation. Lastly, mechanical friction, particularly behind the ears and around the cheeks, nose and chin, can lead to irritation and redness. 

Even those who don’t normally suffer with problematic skin may experience some kind of irritation from prolonged mask use. Thankfully, there are some simple ways to help protect against mask-induced effects on the skin. First and foremost is hydration, but it can be a balancing act. While hydration is key to healthy-looking skin, too much can lead to discomfort. A way to manage this is to use a quality moisturiser that can provide a water-resistant barrier while also offsetting the dryness and irritation potentially caused by wearing a face mask. It’s important to moisturise before and after using a face mask.[4]

The Silic 15 range offers two products – Silic 15 Cream and Silic 15 Lotion – scientifically formulated to help protect the skin in this very way. Formulated with 15% dimethicone, the Silic 15 range helps to form a water-resistant barrier on the skin, which can help reduce the negative impacts of too much moisture building up under your mask.

The barrier that the Silic 15 products form can also help to offset dryness or irritation caused by friction that can come from wearing a mask. Suitable for sensitive skin, the Silic 15 range contains glycerin and liquid paraffin, and can be used as part of your everyday routine to help protect and hydrate skin. Plus, they are easily absorbed, non-sticky and dry clear, which is particularly good news when applying to the face.

As well as a barrier cream like Silic 15, using a mild cleanser at the start and end of each day will help to offset build-up of sebum and clogging of pores.

Make sure your hands are appropriately sanitised before applying your mask, and take the time to fit your mask properly, being careful not to overtighten. Where possible, give your skin a break from wearing a mask – even just five minutes every couple of hours – to allow your skin to breath. How you remove your mask is important too. With sanitised hands, take it off carefully by holding the straps as the cloth layer may be contaminated. Cloth masks should be washed daily, and not sprayed with antiseptics or essential oils – fragrances are a common cause of skin irritation. 


[1] Masks. Australian Government Department of Health [Internet]. [cited 8 September 2020]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others-from-coronavirus-covid-19/masks

[2] Chu DK, Akl AA, Duda S, Solo K, Yaacoub S, Schunemann HJ. Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet 2020;395(10242):1973-1987  

[3] Keep your face healthy during COVID-19. Australasian College of Dermatologists [Internet]. [cited 8 September 2020]. Available from: https://www.dermcoll.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/COVID-19_Face-masks-and-skin-problems_31-July-2020.pdf

[4] Skin care tips during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Mayo Clinic. [Internet]. [cited 8 September 2020]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/coronavirus-skin-care/art-20487664

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Anonymous asked

My daughter is 12 weeks old. Can we use QV Baby Bath Oil and QV Baby Gentle Wash every alternate day? She is suffering from extremely mild seborrheic dermatitis which is clearing well. she is advised to have bath every alternate day. can we use qv baby bath oil and then qv baby gentle wash next time? please advise if this is ok

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Helen Wright asked

I have recently had an actinic keratosis removed and am now desperately want to get my skin protection right…any advice please?

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