How does wearing an N95 mask affect the skin?

N95 masks are a fundamental skill of safety in the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19). But the masks' tight fit, mixed with lengthy hours at the hospital, have left many healthcare workers dealing with painful bruises and skin irritation.

According to a presentation at the American Society for Dermatological Surgery annual meeting, more extensive changes in erythema, zits, and roughness with the use of N95 masks compared with fabric and paper masks.

In a potential cohort, single-arm study, 21 contributors wore a fabric, paper, or N95 mask for 6 hours. High-resolution 3D imaging use to acquire facial image analysis earlier than and after put on to evaluate erythema, acne, roughness. Additionally, contributors have surveys on facial comparison more than first and after mask use.

Subjectively, irritation, redness, zits, and oiliness expanded with all three mask types. Fabric masks led to an improvement in dryness, itching, and pores, and skin texture. 

Objectively, rhytide depth increased significantly around the chin with N95 masks vs. paper masks. With all three masks, roughness, acne, and erythema worsened, with the best changes for N95 masks. 

Three sources of irritation:

The many skin irritations ensuing from N95 respirator utilization appear to fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • The cloth as a contact irritant
  • The incapability to thermoregulate
  • Exhalation contamination

Mesinkovska and colleagues wrote the adjustments in damaging pores. After N95 masks use, skin reactions have been in all likelihood due to more significant facial pressure and pores and skin occlusion.

Here are troubles regularly experienced employing humans who wear N95 masks and what to do about them, courtesy of the UH Department of Dermatology.

Red Rash

N95 respirators are constructed from nonwoven polypropylene that goes via a layered melting and bonding method acknowledged as spun-bonding. For many clinicians, the outbreaks and irritations may also be caused by sensitivity to polypropylene or aluminum. The completed product commonly has an aluminum strip that lets in for tighter healthy across the nose.

If you have a pink sore rash where your mask has contact with your face, preserve the idea that almost all mask's reactions are infection from friction as an alternative than an allergic reaction to the N95 Masks materials. Don't make the inflammation worse with over-washing. Use water and towels alone, or at most use a good quality skin cleanser.


The N95 mask is too tight and brings zits on our face because oilier skin kinds tend to produce extra oils, resulting in zits breakouts.

Wipe the affected location with a mild cleansing wipe immediately after disposing of the masks and reapply moisturizer if your skin is dry. Prescription acne products might also be necessary.

If you already have an acne prescription, a change in your prescription, and pores and skin routine can also be necessary. Some products might again turn out to be pretty annoying below an N95 mask.

Soreness or Rash Behind the Ears

Use a string-tie mask that does not loop in the back of the ears. Also, use a clip that directly connects the ear loops behind the head instead of behind the ears.

Try masks with ear loops that are healthier and more fantastic loosely -- however, the cover needs to still be comfortable around the edges on the nose, cheeks, and chin—alternate mask types day to day or within the day.


The heat beneath an N95 mask may also cause the skin capillaries to dilate, aggravating the rosacea. Change to a cooler-feeling mask if possible, and reduce different facial pores and skin heating exposures, such as warm liquids, alcohol, and spicy foods. You can also want prescription products.

Beard Stubble Discomfort Issues

Late-day stubble can get caught over and over in the fabric, particularly sure isolation/surgical masks. Change your mask type if viable -- a straightforward material with a higher thread may additionally capture much less on stubble.

Add a midday shave to remain smooth. Or reflect on consideration on growing a beard if you are no longer sporting an N95 mask.

What Is Happening to Healthcare Workers' Skin?

Do you recognize when you depart a tight hair tie on your wrist or a bra strap digs into your shoulders, you can once in a while see an imprint left at the back of your skin? Facialist and medical aesthetician Candace Marino says that happens when we wear a tight-fitting scientific mask like an N95 or FFP3.

Except, of course, the extraordinarily tight in the shape of these masks—plus the hours-long shifts they're using for—can make the inflammation an entire lot worse than a nagging bra strap. "Any time something puts regular stress on the skin, you are going to see some breakdown," explains Marino.

The skin can tolerate a lot, but they impact excessive moisture, and friction can be a recipe for disaster, notes board-certified dermatologist Erum Ilyas, M.D. "When you take friction, add humidity and time, and throw in a little sweat from sporting so tons defensive gear, you get the ideal storm for infection leading to breakdown with the possible for bruising and discoloration," 

However, following some simple hints like retaining the pores and skin clean, well-hydrated, and moisturized can help one avoid pores and skin injury from face masks, according to a current study published in the Journal of Wound Care.

This effect can aggravate using the routine use of face masks. However, it does not imply that humans with hypersensitive skin cannot put on face masks.

The relevant news: It's not likely to reason long-term damage, Dr. Ilyas says, that reminder that it is not permanent scarring.

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