Maskne versus Rosacea Different Skin Problems under Mask

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Maskne Versus Rosacea

Last updated 05/23/2021

There are two skin problems with similarities but also so different. As if the stress is not enough with constantly changing guidelines. It is still difficult to determine the cause for these breakouts, rashes or bumps. Whether it is maskne versus rosacea.

I have seen quite a few searches concerning what mask (Please refer to CDC & WHO websites for current updates) is best to wear with rosacea. Also developing rosacea from a mask. So I have decided to point out how these differ as well as the similarities.

Disclaimer: This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis. More details.

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Here they are maskne versus rosacea, yes it’s a real thing.

Dealing With my Rosacea

I have had rosacea for years and have written other blogs about it. It is not possible to get rosacea simply by wearing your mask. You need to be diagnosed with it first by a dermatologist. A mask may make the disorder worse but it is not the cause for rosacea.

I still feel my two layer cotton mask is best. It is breathable and soft so it doesn’t irritate my skin. This is what I currently wear.

More importantly you need to wear a clean mask, and place it on a clean face with clean hands. I bought the masks in the pics from BowerSewPretty on Etsy.

Maskne Versus Rosacea

I wore a surgical mask for a while but it would move, slide down on my face and wasn’t snug. Thus I was always adjusting it, not a good idea you need to leave it alone. Also it felt rough and not very breathable therefore holding more moisture in. It all depends on your personal preference and needs.

What is Maskne?

A new word in our vocabulary due to the mask to stop the spread of COVID-19. Maskne (AKA acne mechanica) combines the two words mask and acne. This was usually seen in athletes.

Many health care workers have noticed an acne-like irritation under their mask. They are wearing their mask for an extended time during the pandemic. Because of this health care workers are at a higher risk of getting maskne. If you have noticed changes on your face also, you are not alone.

Maskne is actually a term covering a few skin conditions affecting the face caused by heat, humidity, occlusion and friction. This includes conditions; periorificial dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and acne mechanica. These can lead to red rashes, acne-like bumps and flaking or scaling under the mask.

What Causes Maskne?

Maskne is formed because of friction, pressure, stretching, rubbing and occlusion. It has nothing to do with hormones as when your period comes.

Wearing a mask for most of your day can contribute to skin problems. This is because of the environment under your mask from rebreathing your moist air. Areas of the mask may also be rubbing the face and sweating.

Dead skin cells can also add to clog pores. You usually shed skin cells (dust) through the day but while wearing your mask they stay close to your skin.

Maskne versus Rosacea the Differences

I have read (rosacea books) many articles on the National Rosacea Society website and others researching rosacea over the years. They both may have symptoms that look alike with the acne. Rosacea however also has distended capillaries near the skin surface.

These are the differences:


  • Curable
  • Preventable
  • Skin condition from wearing face mask
  • Mask irritates
  • Caused by wearing a mask
  • Treatable with good skin care


  • No cure
  • Non-preventable
  • Chronic Skin disorder
  • Triggers irritate
  • Inherited
  • Controllable with medications and avoiding triggers
Maskne Versus Rosacea
Photo by pixabay from pexels

Prevent Skin Problems

Wearing a Mask

When putting on your mask; mask, hands and face should be clean. If you can’t wash with soap and water while removing or replacing your mask use your hand sanitizer.

Should you Wear Makeup?

Skip the makeup it can’t be seen under the mask anyway. You don’t want to get the mask dirty. It can only add to the irritation by rubbing in your pores and clogging them.

So skip the foundation and anything worn under the mask. If you must, accent your eyes.

Face Care

Gently cleanse your face before and after each wear of your mask, especially during long days. Carry along some Micellar water in a baggie for a quick refresh anytime. Take breaks (safe distance away from others, alone in your car) and put on a fresh clean mask when returning.

Moisturizer and Sunscreen

Use a light moisturizing lotion and sunscreen. You don’t want anything that is thick under your mask that can clog pores. This could be combined as one product. Always sunscreen!

Avoid These

When wearing your mask avoid harsh scrubs and exfoliating products. You can do this when you are sure you won’t be putting a mask on for a while. Use a salicylic acid wash, or wipes that you carry along for oily skin. A gentle non-soap cleanser (micellar water) is good for sensitive skin.

Just Don’t

Don’t pick pimples you’ll only make this worse. This could lead to infections or scarring. Try a pimple patch.

For oily skin; take time for yourself to heal and relax, try a clay mask they soothe and absorb oil.


Retinol/retinoid products can be drying with regular use. It is best to avoid these for they could be more irritating under a mask with already sensitive skin.

Wear a Clean Mask

A fabric mask should be washed after each wear. Disposable (hence name) are meant to be tossed after wearing each time and replaced with a new one. Carry spares, if they become damp or wet replace, they have lost their effect.

No Dyes or Fragrance

Wash your fabric mask with a detergent (All) free of dyes and fragrance that can be more irritating to skin.


If you are not a health care worker you should wear a cotton mask. This is a gentler fabric and less irritating. Bamboo may be another option.

Products to Relieve Pressure

Silicone gel strips can be placed under pressure points of mask to prevent rubbing. Bandages or Pimple patches also do the trick.

Wrapping it up

You see there are differences and similarities between maskne and rosacea. Practice good skin care as well as oral hygiene (mask breath) this will improve maskne. Rosacea requires treatment with oral medication and topical creams. In more advanced types aggressive procedures may be needed.

Now that we have all gotten our vaccine less people are wearing their mask. That is your decision. Since I have rosacea my innate immune system is compromised and I will continue to wear a mask among people.

Thank you to all the health care workers and essential workers out there!

Header Photo by Uriel Mont from pexels

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fourteen years.

Researching content:         accessed 10/24/2020   accessed 10/24/2020

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