monalisa_mask_Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Stages of wearing a mask:

  1. “Oh, this is not so bad.”
  2. “I can smell my own breath. Is it hot in here? Why am I so oily?”
  3. “Oh shoot! Is that a pimple?!

Maskne: Acne produced by wearing face masks.

Why it’s happening:

When we breathe or talk, we create moisture that causes pores to open up potentially trapping in dirt, debris, oils and changing the pH of our skin. When we speak there are small molecules containing mouth flora that can be trapped on the surface of your skin. Combine these factors and this equals the perfect recipe for breakouts. Masks often do not fit properly leading us to constantly adjust them increasing chances of friction and movement of debris.

These irritations can cause blackheads, whiteheads, or acne pimples. Blackheads appear dark because it is an open pore and the skin pigment melanin reacts with oxygen in the air. Whiteheads are closed pores that have a white or yellowish head. The more oil that builds up, the more likely bacteria will multiply leading to inflammatory acne. Acne are inflamed papules, or small bumps that can be painful, red and/or filled with pus.

What to do about it:

There is a lot of talk about mask wearing in general. I have yet to see a lot of people combine mask wearing AND preventative measures. You can wear a mask AND take precautions AND optimize your health at the same time. Who would have thought that we would have to change our face routines to revolve around a face mask?

Mask Hygiene

  • Make sure to change masks daily. Wash with hot water and through in the dryer. The dryer helps to kill and lingering bacteria that may be lingering.
  • If disposable, make sure to replace daily if possible.
  • Take breaks. If you are in your home or in your car alone. Take it off, let your face breathe as often as possible.

Here’s my prescription for tackling maskne:

Topical Rx:

    • Wash: AM and PM
      • Stick to unscented gentle soaps or oils to remove any makeup or debris build up from the day.
      • Don’t get tempted to use antibacterial soap for your face.
    • Reset: Toner
      • Use astringent herbs to help clean the surface of your skin. I commonly recommend witch hazel.
    • Protect: Create Barrier
      • Look for lotions that contain ceramides, niacinamides, or hyaluronic acids. This is the backbone to optimize hydration & integrity of skin
      • Sunscreens! Don’t forget to apply even when wearing a mask. Look for ones that are zinc or mineral based.
      • Avoid: heavy foundations, oils, creams
    • Correct: Spot treatments
      • Look over salicylic acids, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur. These are great for shrinking breakouts on the spot.
      • If irritation occurs soothe your skin with alovera gel (make sure there is no alcohol in this), almond oil, or rose hip seed oil are some of my easily accessible favorites.
friends_facial_Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
healthy porridge_Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Systemic Rx:

    • Reduce:
      • Alcohol & Caffeine- Dehydration also triggers an excess of sebum which creates oily skin.
      • High glycemic foods: A high sugar load can trigger an increase of oil production and promote skin inflammation.
      • Dairy: Milk derived amino acids promote insulin secretion and induce an increase in IGF-1 which stimulates sebum production.
    • Incorporate:
      • More B-vitamins to aid in the redox reaction, improve energy, and and improve resiliency to stress factors.
      • Electrolytes- to optimize your cellular up-take of the water you are drinking.
      • Healthy fats: Omega-3’s help regulate your body’s inflammatory process, and promote healthy cell walls.
      • Fiber: Increase the fiber in your diets to allow for regular bowel movements. This includes a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
    • Check in:
      • We are in a pandemic! The reality is nobody knows what is happening. We are all playing it day by day. Stress causes your body to increase its cortisol response and sends your skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands into overdrive. If a breakout occurs use it as a reminder to check in with yourself.

Skin is composed of 3 layers: epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. Within these layers are keratin, proteins and stem cells. Breakouts mean a disturbance or imbalance is occurring at any of these layers. Tackling skin issues naturally means working from the inside out, creating a stable and sustainable foundation for optimal skin.

We want to stress the importance of wearing masks, especially in public places. Use this time as an excuse to bump up your self care routine! For more personalized details about how to optimize your skin contact our office for an appointment with me.


Wear a mask. Check in with yourself. Drink water. Poop. Wash your face.



  • [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Acne: Overview. 2013 Jan 16 [Updated 2019 Sep 26]. Available from:
  • Juhl CR, Bergholdt HKM, Miller IM, Jemec GBE, Kanters JK, Ellervik C. Dairy Intake and Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 78,529 Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults. Nutrients. 2018;10(8):1049. Published 2018 Aug 9. doi:10.3390/nu10081049

Dr. Kathy Severson

Dr. Kathy Severson specializes in dermatology and skin health, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and women’s health and hormone balancing. Dr. Severson takes a practical approach to medicine. She blends the natural methods that she has learned coupled with allopathic methods and common sense to help patients build a sustainable treatment path.

Rebel Med NW is a concierge integrative & functional medical clinic located in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA. We were pleased to be voted Seattle Met Top Doctor by our peers from 2017 to 2023. Rebel Med NW provides Naturopathic Medicine, Acupuncture, Physical Medicine, and Primary Care services to the Seattle community. We practice a philosophy of holistic wellness, evidenced based & functional medicine approaches in medicine and "We are here to bring the Mind-Body Connection back to Medicine".

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Back To Top