During this coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, everyone is required to wear face masks when going out in public in order to combat the spread of the virus.

Because of being required to wear face masks, especially for an extended amount of time, some people have experienced acne breakouts.

Dermatologist Dr. Sharon Ann Tepeng, a fellow of the Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS), desccribes this condition as ‘acne mechanica’, which is caused by skin friction from the use of face masks.

“This is caused by friction of the skin with the mask as well as heat or inability of the skin to breathe,“ Tepeng said.

She says that most vulnerable to acne breakouts are those who sweat a lot or work and live in a warm environment, she said.

Due to the mandatory use of face masks to contain the spread of the virus, those who are vulnerable are most at risk to acne breakouts.

Tepeng advised keeping the affected areas clean and dry in order to lessen the acne breakouts.

“To do this, people may use a salicylic acid-based cleanser and may apply benzoyl peroxide 5% gel on the affected areas. These materials can be bought in drugstores,” she said.

Tepeng is a consultant in dermatology at Healthway Medical at SM North EDSA and at The Medical City Clinic in Cyberpark Tower, Cubao, Quezon City. She finished her residency training in dermatology at the East Avenue Medical Center in 2004.

She is a graduate of the UST College of Medicine in 1999.