ECZEMA sufferers may notice their skin condition is flaring up, especially as they need to keep putting a face mask on and taking it off. Is the constant back-and-forth irritating your skin?
Top dermatology nurse consultant Paula Oliver acknowledges that wearing a face mask – although necessary in this Covid climate – can be extremely uncomfortable. What are the signs of skin irritation? “Eczema often affects the face,” said Paula, which can often feel really itchy – especially when a Covid mask causes friction. A flare-up can result in “red, dry and scaly skin” that may create blisters that weep and crust over.
Changes in temperature and humidity often aggravate eczema,” added Paula, and wearing a face mask could be doing just that. Paula advised eczema-prone individuals to make sure their face mask is the “correct fit”. “If your mask is too loose, it can cause chaffing; too tight and it can cause it to rub on sensitive areas,” said Paula.
“Try choosing a mask with adjustable straps and a bendable piece across the bridge of the nose. This can help you mould the fit to your face.” Also consider the material of your face mask; natural fabrics, such as cotton, bamboo and silk are more gentle on sensitive skin. “These materials are much more lightweight and comfortable, just make sure they’re double layered,” said Paula.
It’s also important to keep your face covering clean “to prevent any germs and bacteria from building up”. “Make sure you don’t use any harsh detergents or fabric softeners that you know don’t agree with your skin,” added Paula. “The skin around your mouth, cheeks and nose is very delicate,” she said. “So it’s important to take care of it.” Paula suggests moisturising with “Epimax [an emollient] when taking off your mask, particularly at night”.
She warned: “Cosmetic moisturisers can contain a much larger number of ingredients that may make things worse.” In addition, those who wear make-up can give their skin a break from cosmetics, as the whole face is hardly on show nowadays. “It’s the perfect excuse to go make-up free,” said Paula. You may have noticed that some people are wearing face visors while out and about, but Paula said it “may be worn in addition to a face covering, but not instead of one”.
She explained: “Face visors or shields do not adequately cover the nose and mouth. “If you have severe facial eczema that is made worse by wearing a face covering, the government has exemption badges and cards on its website that you can print out.” Alternatively, you can follow Paula’s tips when it comes to wearing a face mask.