4 Things to Know about skin problems with wearing N95s
Although PPE prevents the spread of COVID-19, protecting yourself and those around you, they can sometimes be a literal pain. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that 76% of frontline healthcare workers, who wear an N95 mask in compliance with safety guidelines, have experienced breakouts or bruises.
Healthcare Heroes like you will probably hang on to PPEs for a while. So, what can you do now to get back that healthy-looking flawless skin and feel more confident?
Tell me - how do N95s cause breakouts and bruises?
When wearing multiple PPEs, your skin is subjected to two major risk factors – pressure and moisture buildup. It is like you are in a sauna and the walls are caving in. Ok, it is not really like that, but you get the gist.
On the one hand, goggles and face shields add an unnatural amount of pressure to your skin structure, causing friction and stripping the skin. Eventually, pressure injuries develop, and the result is redness and bruises. On the other hand, the fabric in face coverings was designed to protect particles from reaching your airways, but it is consequently highly efficient at trapping humidity. In no time, the skin becomes oversoaked in moisture, disrupting the protective mantle and making it easier for irritants and microorganisms to penetrate the stratum corneum. Irritation, inflammation, discoloration, acne, folliculitis, and dermatitis are some of the subsequent skin damages.
As if that were not enough, healthcare workers must not apply skin protectants before putting on an N95 mask because they interfere with the seal. Such a scenario may make “wearing makeup to bed” sound like a beginners’ problem. But worry not, because here follows what you can do to help prevent it.
Ok, so how to deal with skin problems from these N95s?
Prevention is certainly the best route. Therefore, if manageable, it is helpful to take a 15-minute break after wearing a mask for 2-4 hours. The break can alleviate the pressure and reduce excessive moisture on the skin. Healthcare professionals could also find ways to safely minimize the pressure of the mask on their faces. The challenge is to do so without compromising the effectiveness of the N95 mask seal. Researchers found it is a good call to silicone dressings into protective strips to be worn under the N95.
Seeking stress relief practices on your time off can positively impact your skin health. Working in healthcare was already a stressful occupation before COVID-19, and the strain of the pandemic and isolation only aggravates the issue – skin issues inclusive. Enhance your well-being by engaging in leisure activities such as yoga, meditation, and outdoor exercise. The good old buddy system may be an excellent coping strategy – tell your story and listen to others! Your skin will thank you!
Finally, make sure your skincare routine is working in your favor. Next, we will talk about skincare tips that will give your skin a break, not breakouts. If you are not sure what your condition is or your skin is not clearing up, it is always helpful to see a dermatologist.
What skincare do you recommend after a long shift of mask-wearing?
Here is a list of some skincare essentials that you may want to include in your routine
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, or an anti-acne cleanser if you experience breakouts. Keeping the skin clean is a top priority after all that exposure to pressure and moisture.
- Use a lightweight non-comedogenic moisturizer after washing the face. Replenishing the proper nutrients will help your skin heal and prepare it for the next shift.
- You may also consider a face antiperspirant or a sweat-absorbing lotion. Patients with hyperhidrosis know these lotions very well, and they can tone down the moisture buildup under your N95.
- If your skin is already seriously affected, try adding an OTC skin protectant cream to your routine after your shift. These products restore the skin barrier, and they contain actives such as allantoin, calamine, colloidal oatmeal, or zinc oxide.
- Occasionally, treat yourself to an at-home spa facial to detox the skin. Facial masks are an ancient therapy that activates skin microcirculation leading to a speedier recovery.
How can the AllWell product help me?
We developed AllWell Face & Body Masque with your challenging routines in mind.
Conventional spa facial masks rely on mineral clays such as kaolin and bentonite, which may absorb way too many oils and leave your skin feeling dry and itchy.
AllWell is formulated with our exclusive plant-based Acer Rubrum Extract, a red maple fiber that works just as well as clay masks, but without the shortcomings. Safflower oil will help replenish essential lipids on the skin mantle. And our optimized combination of Lavender, Vetiver, and Clary Sage aromatic oils will help you de-stress and recover after a long shift. With the gift of AllWell AllOver™, we hope you can finally restore your skin to its natural healthy glow.