This week I’ve been having lots of conversations with patients about spots attributed to the necessary mask wearing.
Mask wearing seems to be here to stay, and we need to do everything we can do to stop Coronavirus spreading, so I’ve been thinking about an action plan to combat the zits!!
Spots/ zits/ acne/ pimples – whatever you call them – are always really annoying and can be extremely upsetting, painful and confidence destroying.
Spots have a variety of root causes and I would recommend to anyone with more than the odd occasional spot to go and see a dermatologist. It is good to solve acne early to try and prevent pitted acne scarring.
Why do spots form?
Sebum is produced by the sebaceous glands at the hair follicles. We all produce sebum which comes to the surface carrying dead skin cells.
The problem occurs when a follicle get blocked by hair, oil or secretions and the sebum and dead skin cells (keratinocytes) build up behind the blockage giving a perfect medium for bacteria to thrive.
The bacteria mostly to blame is called Cutebacterium acnes is present on most healthy adult skin as a normal part of the microbes that we live with on our skin. It lives in our follicles and pores and feeds on sebum, oil and skin debris – it is only a problem when it multiplies in the build up of sebum and creates a pimple.
Hormonal changes or oily skin types produce more sebum and make us more susceptible to spots.
Extra sweating, sebum, dirt and bacteria can be created behind a mask contributing to the problem.
Workers needing to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for long periods have been particularly effected and myself, friends and colleagues have been bemoaning the extra spots under the mask area. I also noticed the gorgeous celebrity Dr Ranj was complaining of the problem on Instagram after his recent 14 hour shift.
So, here is my 5 step prevention plan to help us to live spot- free alongside our masks.
1) Make sure you have a clean or new mask and do not touch your face
Change your mask regularly – I think using fresh disposable masks are cleaner and better for this. They do need to be changed for a brand new fresh mask as they are only designed for short usage and cannot be washed.
If you are wearing a cloth mask these need to be washed frequently so they are clean on your face. This is also important to make sure they are clear of any virus.
Once your mask is on, do not fiddle with it or touch your face.
2) Stay hydrated
Wearing a mask can make it harder to regularly drink water.
If you are not drinking enough water your skin may react by producing more sebum and oil in response to dehydration.
3) Avoid harsh products
Avoid harsh products. Harsh products often sold for acne can strip the skin of moisture and dry it out – this can make the problem worse as the skin becomes flaky and more oil is produced.
4) Gentle effective cleansing with the correct products
Regular cleansing with carefully designed products will clean out those pores and follicules without drying out the skin.
Clear cell clarifying gel cleanser is excellent for this as a 3 in 1 gel that cleanses, exfoliates and tones the skin. It is pH balanced so no extra toner is needed. The salicylic acid removes excess oil and lightly exfoliates dead skin cells to remove the food for the bacteria.
It leaves skin smooth, soft and shine free. Horse chestnut and arnica extracts calm redness prone skin.
Clear cell clarifying pads are already a best seller in my shop as they are so convenient to keep in your bag for on-the -go cleansing. They can be in your bag ready to use after mask wearing at work or after an exercise session.
These miracle pads contain glycolic and salicylic acid to clean out clogged pores. They are also infused with antioxidant and calming ingredients to calm and refresh the skin.
All the products in my shop are paraben free.
5) Moisturise with a ‘mattifying’ oil absorbing moisturiser
It may sound counter-intuitive to say that adding moisturiser can help. However, it is actually vital – if the skin drys out it create more sebum and oil and gets flaky with dry skin cells to encourage the spots.
Using a specialist moisturiser can really help – I can recommend two amazing products that contain the moisture, botanicals and antioxidants to solve irritation and calm the skin. The clever bit is that they also actually work to absorb the surface oils to prevent the build up of the acne causing substances.
The Clear cell mattifying moisturiser hydrates, soothes and calms whilst absorbing surface oil for a refreshed magnifying effect. Vitamin B6 derivative improves the skin’s overall healthy balance by visually minimising pore size, shine and sebum production.
It can be used morning and evening. For daytime use it can be used under Prevention + daily matte moisturiser SPF 32.
Prevention + daily matte moisturiser SPF 32 is a product providing broad spectrum UVA/ UVB protection. It is an excellent make-up primer for a matte and flawless finish. This face moisturiser is especially designed for those with combination, oily or acne prone skin. Micro-sponge technology is used to absorb the surface oils and it contains antioxidants and free-radical scavengers help to prevent DNA damage.