COVID Masks and Facial Eczema

I wore a mask again today. My face paid for it. It was my regular eye injection appointment, which normally has been wonderfully managed to protect everyone during this virus. Today, the same safeguards were in place, but instead of a quick in-and-out, there was a backlog. Altogether, well over two hours without taking off the mask. I watched other patients move their mask to wipe their face, or scratch an itch, but doesn’t that just defeat the purpose of wearing one?

Facial dermatitis from wearing a face mask

Masks and facial irritation go hand in hand for those of us with any sort of facial dermatitis. I’ve been trying for some time now to calm the itchy, dry, flaking redness around my mouth and chin. But any time I go out with a mask on, it flares up again. Heat, moisture, sweat, all contribute to this, and wearing a mask exacerbates each annoying itchy area on my face. Once this starts, as we all know so well, it often continues for weeks. It’s the eczema merry go round. Two weeks later, just as it’s beginning to clear up, I go out for groceries. My mental health requires me to get out and about occasionally, even if I didn’t need the groceries.

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Does wearing a face mask irritate your skin?

Trying to find the right face mask

I’ve been sewing masks from quality cotton in different styles to try to find one style or one fabric better than another, with little success. Even with pre-washing twice. Everyone else seems to love them! I then bought a box of disposable non-medical face masks, hoping they’d be better. They’re a bit lighter weight, slightly easier to breathe through, but just as irritating to my poor face.

Putting cortisone on my facial eczema

I want to follow my allergist’s advice to immediately put my prescription cortisone cream on the flare as soon as the burning itch starts, but how can I do this when I’m not supposed to touch my face until after using the terrible, but necessary hand sanitizer? I’ve wondered if I should just put the cortisone on my upper lip in particular, before I put on the mask. But I know this is probably not a good idea as the cortisone should be used very sparingly.

Hand washing or sanitizing and eczema

The never-ending use of hand sanitizer and handwashing has surprisingly caused only a slight reaction. Some itchy red spots, a bit of peeling. The most effective way to control my eczema would be to just stay indoors. But with a number of older seniors in my building, I find myself wearing a mask, just in case, to protect them whenever I go out to check the mail or even just to the garden.

What's the solution?

If I could give my face time to heal, I’d need to try and be smarter about going out again, and with any luck not have more flares. But becoming a hermit is not a good idea either. I realize this is just an annoyance compared to getting COVID-19 or having to wear a mask for a full shift as a front line worker. I know there must be a solution.

Are any of you having these same issues? If you’ve found anything that works for you, please share.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?