How do N95 masks affect the skin on your face

The pros and cons of wearing the N95 masks

The year 2020 has made wearing N95 masks a compulsion for the medical fraternity; no matter how long the visit is, the doctors, nurses, or emergency responders cannot take off the mask. They are suffocated, and experience breathing resistance yet, taking off the mask instantly exposes them to multiple hazards. The chances of getting infected from coronavirus while tending the patients cannot be ruled out. The doctors need to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), especially the N95 masks, to ensure their health is crucial. The FDA and CDC recommend that the medical experts and the medical staff use the N95 masks all the time while they are in the field tending the patients. The recommendation also asks the doctors and the staff not to remove the mask while they are in the common rooms., restrooms, lobby, or taking a break to meet a fellow doctor or encounter any patients.

There is no denial of the fact the N95 masks are mandatory and even essential for medical experts. The N95 masks are tightly fitted, which is why they work well after being fitted in place. However, wearing the masks for long hours is difficult as it interrupts the body's oxygen flow in the body. It has been reported that wearing N95 masks for countless hours can result in painful bruises, acne, inflammation, discoloration, and skin irritation. The posts from several doctors and medical experts are doing rounds on social media where they claim that they are not even a few hours of their duty, and the mask has harmed their skin. Several doctors and nurses have posted about their concerns regarding their skin. The breakouts and marks that the N95 mask is gives them on their skin looks horrible and is very painful. The doctors and nurses are worried about the pandemic, but the condition of their ski is increasing their worry. It is evident that while on shift, the seal cannot be compromised, and wearing a surgical or cloth mask can be harmful.

The situation is like leaving a tight rubber band tied on your wrist or the bra steps that dig into your shoulders; they will leave a strong imprint on your skin. Wearing a tight fitted medical mask like the N95 for long hours gets the skin irritated and is much worse than the above two examples. The masks put constant pressure on the skin, and the skin cannot tolerate it. The doctors have been wearing the mask for long hours for the past one year, which is painful for the skin. However, it will not give them long-term side effects. Still, it is painful, and some ways can help to ease the pain.

How can one protect their skin while wearing the mask?

Many people are putting up ideas for social media treatments that can help ease the pain and reduce the inflammation, acne, and breakouts on the skin. 

  1. Rubbing ice on the skin- before wearing the mask, if ice is rubbed on the face, can help ease the pain and relieve inflammation and acne on the skin. Using ice packs along with blister products like blister balms or hydro-seal blister band-aids on the face at night can calm inflammation and blisters. 
  2. Apply to ice on the face- many doctors and nurses have vouched on the benefits of applying icing on their faces after the hospital shifts. Applying zinc cream during the shifts as a barrier and then applying vaseline or Aquaphor after the shift can work wonders in dealing with the situation.   
  3. Mask care collection kit- several beauty products making companies, and derma approved companies make skincare sets that target post-skin procedure recovery. The kit has a cleanser, calming and antioxidant serums that work like magic potions for dry, dehydrated, irritated skin. The kit further has a recovery balm, a zinc-based sunscreen. Even when you are spending hours inside the hospital, the need to apply sunscreen continues to treat inflammation and discoloration caused by heat trapped inside the mask.   
  4. Use azelaic acid- N95 masks are tight-fitting masks instead of surgical masks, which are loosely fitted. The masks result in breakouts on the skin. In this case, using azelaic acid that occurs naturally and is derived from barley or rye helps treat fading dark masks. The natural acid also helps in treating anti-inflammation and soothes breakouts. 
  5. Stay hydrated- externally, you can apply several things to soothe your skin and reduce the pain; however, N95 masks are supposed to be a tightly fitted mask, and if there is a barrier between the mask and skin, the purpose of the mask is not fulfilled. Thus it is important to wear the mask tightly or else the safety is compromised. Another thing like staying hydrated can actually make the skin soft and supple. Staying hydrated by drinking ample water will ease inflammation, breakouts, and acne. Drink water and fight the situation.

Presently, we are stuck in a grave situation, and to deal with it, we have to stand strong. Applying any product that can act as a barrier between your skin mask can jeopardize the mask’s effectiveness, and this has to be avoided. Firstly, we need to fight the coronavirus, and the rest can be dealt with later on, as saving lives is more important than fighting the scars on the face.

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