As face masks and coverings become the norm around the country, you might be bracing yourself for a breakout around the mouth. I have the most dickhead sensitive skin that throws a tantrum at the slightest of changes, so I’ll probably cop a bit of acne. At least nobody will see it. If you’re all about prevention though, here’s how you can stop a mask breakout right in its tracks.

Breakouts, from masks, are the result of environmental factors that are egged on by friction, heat, or pressure.

It’s very much like acne mechanica, which is triggered by heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing of the skin.

“Wearing a facial mask can create the ideal environment for acne mechanica to form as the warm moist air is trapped under the mask and the friction can cause clogged pores and breakouts,” Zoe Devine, an expert at cosmedical skincare brand Skinstitut said.

So how can you prevent it? According to Sydney’s Skin Renu clinic practitioner, Sylvia Down, you’ve got to practice good hygiene.

“You must follow strict hygiene practices when wearing masks and ensure you change your mask every four hours,” Down said.

“If you notice any dampness within the mask you should change it immediately, however if you use a reusable mask it’s best to wash it daily for maximum hygiene,” she said.

Also, try to pay attention to where you store your mask when you’re not wearing it, so it doesn’t attract more bacteria to its cloth surface.

“If you wear a mask for a long period of time at work, washing your face with a clean face towel and reapplying your moisturiser regularly will help to avoid bacteria build up during the day,” Down said.

But if you’ve already started to notice a little bit of acne around your mouth, here’s how you can treat it.

Nicola Kropach from Aesthetics Rx cosmetics said, “A gentle cleanser is critical to remove excess oil, perspiration, and makeup on the skin.”

“It is important to keep the surface of the skin clean, without causing any additional stress with harsh surfactants and fragrances that can strip and irritate the skins’ delicate balance of oil and moisture,” she said.

As an aside, I started using a random moisturiser a few weeks ago without researching it properly, or realising the flavour would have an effect on my skin. Big mistake, HUGE.

Kropach also recommended products with salicylic acid to gently exfoliate the pores to break down all the grime and dead skin cells that could lead to the congestion and bacterial overgrowth.

It’s also super important to moisturise the area around your mouth to combat pressure, chaffing, and rubbing. What’s so bad about rubbing, you ask? Well, it can mess up your skin’s ability to protect itself, which would make it vulnerable to bacteria.

Skinstitut has recommended a couple of products to treat breakouts, including the Skinstitut Gentle Cleanser, the hydrating Laser Aid cooling gel for inflammation and redness, and the Aesthetics Rx H20 hydrating balm, which both protects and and regenerates skin.

Image: Instagram / @stephclairesmith