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Simple steps to stop masks from irritating skin

While masks provide some protection from COVID-19, they can also irritate the often sensitive skin on your face.

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While masks provide some protection from COVID-19, they can also irritate what can be sensitive skin on your face.

Wearing N95 masks for hours can lead to angry, red dents in the skin. It's something dermatologists are seeing and caring for.

"That's an ongoing issue for health care workers across the country," said Dr. Mat Avram, director of the dermatology laser & cosmetic center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

While cloth or disposable masks may not cause skin dents, they can cause other irritations and even acne.

"You may be sweating more because the weather is getting warmer now as we all know. There's saliva and droplets that are in there, there's dirt in there and it's all getting clogged in one place," Avram said.

He recommends using a gentle cleanser morning and night to clean your face. If you're experiencing acne, try a wash with salicylic acid.

If it's not acne, but your skin in still irritated the cloth itself or your detergent could be bothering you.

"Just wearing it and cleaning it might bring out some of the chemicals in the cloth more so you have to be careful with that," Avram said.

Consider washing your mask separately and try a few different detergents. Also, remember, the mask does not protect the entire face from the sun so wearing sunscreen is still recommended.

"The sun is strong now regardless of the temperature and you don't need to be at the beach to get a sunburn. The sun doesn't care if you're at a beach, at the pool, walking down the street. If it's on your skin, you're getting those rays," Avram said.