For better or for worse, the new normal requires that we wear masks regularly, and for longer periods of time. This has caused a problem for quite a few people, especially front-line workers and those employed in the medical profession: mask-related acne, or maskne.


Let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon known as maskne, how to prevent maskne and how to treat your mask-induced malaise. For further information on the subject of acne treatment, read our guide to dealing with acne-prone skin.

What causes maskne?

The medical term for maskne is acne mechanica, a skin condition caused by prolonged periods of wearing personal facial protective equipment. Maskne is not a new condition, as medical professionals can attest; the condition has, however, become more widespread amongst the general population in recent times.

When you wear masks for extended periods, you impose heat and friction upon the skin on your face, particularly around the mouth, nose and chin. The moisture generated when you breathe can become trapped on your skin when you wear a mask, leading to an increase in humidity that can further irritate the skin. 

This can cause your skin to become dry, raw and itchy, and it can also lead to the pores on your face becoming blocked with sweat, oil, moisture and dirt. These blocked pores can then develop into pimples or, in more severe cases, acne cysts. 

The resulting spots can be a source of discomfort, as they often form a noticeable circle around the nose and mouth.

How to prevent maskne

Prevention is always better than a cure. Adhering to the following steps should help ensure that you keep maskne at bay:

  • Find a mask that fits your face properly and provides your nose and mouth with adequate protection. This will help avoid chafing the very delicate skin around your nose, mouth and chin.
  • Ensure that you change your mask at least twice a day. This will reduce the amount of oil that comes into contact with your face
  • Wash your face twice a day, preferably before you put your mask on and right after you take it off. Use water and a gentle, oil-free cleanser, and follow up with a moisturiser to keep your skin hydrated. It is important that you do this, because the combination of heat and friction causes your face to dry out and produce more sebum (natural oil).
  • Avoid touching your mask: the act of constantly adjusting and touching the mask has the effect of transferring oil, dirt and other irritants to the skin on your face
  • Remove your mask when you have the chance to do so: it is important that you give your skin adequate exposure to the air
  • Resist the temptation to wear make-up if you know that you’ll be wearing a mask for long periods of time: wearing make-up will clog up your pores, which increases the risk of acne breakouts

If you have sensitive skin, you may find the following helpful:

  • Use sensitive skincare products. Apply our alcohol-free NIVEA MEN Sensitive Cooling Face Moisturiser for instantly refreshed skin and all-day protection from skin irritation
  • Choose a mask made from organic natural fibres - cotton and silk are better for your skin than synthetic materials like polyester and rayon. This will allow your skin to breathe, helping prevent skin irritation and acne breakouts. If you do decide to wear a reusable mask, be sure to wash it after a full day of wear.
Maskne Treatment

How to treat maskne

So you’ve followed our advice to the letter, only to find that maskne has made a very unwelcome appearance. Fear not, for help is on hand.

  • Resist the urge to squeeze and pick at your pimples, as this will only make them worse and can lead to further breakouts
  • Wash your spots with lukewarm water and a mild soap or cleanser, such as our NIVEA Daily Essentials Sensitive Cleansing Milk - this will remove excess sebum, dirt and sweat from the surface of your skin. Follow up by applying a moisturiser that will hydrate and nourish your skin without clogging up your pores.
  • Be careful to avoid excessive washing, however, as this can cause your skin to produce lots of sebum. This is the last thing you need when you’re trying to get your acne under control.
  • Use a scrub to exfoliate your skin every few days. This softens your skin and clears the way for a fresh new layer of skin cells to emerge.
  • Avoid wearing make-up during breakouts, as this will only clog up your pores. If you do decide to wear make-up, ensure that you remove it with our NIVEA Micellar Make-Up Remover Wipes and wash your face before you go to bed. This will allow your skin to breathe without leaving behind a greasy residue, and washing your face afterwards will remove excess oils and dead skin cells that could contribute to further breakouts.
  • Eat healthily and take plenty of exercise