Face masks are a surprising hazard even as they protect against COVID-19

Face masks are a surprising hazard even as they protect against COVID-19

Almost all countries and territories around the globe have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak since the first case was reported in Wuhan, China, late last year. The COVID-19 virus is easily transmissible, so societies have rightfully opted to protect themselves and others by using a face mask. With frequent and prolonged use however, many are presenting with a red, scaly, dry, and itchy rash right below the face mask. As mentioned by Dr. Irene Lee C.K., a Consultant dermatologist at Malaysia’s Sunway Velocity Medical Centre, correct and timely diagnosis and care are important to treat these rashes and prevent any complications that may arise. 

Dr. Irene went on to explain that there are several types of rash presentation associated with a face mask allergy such as contact allergy and contact urticaria. In the case of contact allergy, a person may be allergic to certain substances used in the production of a face mask – including formaldehyde, dibromodicyanobutane adhesives and thiuram elastic parts; some of these irritants can also contribute to occlusive acne. As for contact urticaria, unlike contact dermatitis, a person may break out in hives not long after direct contact with an offending face mask. In addition, in people with a pre-existing face allergy, friction caused by use of a face mask and constant increased temperature below the face mask may aggravate the condition.

Dr. Irene also said that “being allergic to one type of face mask does not equate to allergy to all face masks” – she recommends first treating the face allergy or rash before trying on another type of face mask. Here, a gentle cleanser and suitable moisturiser is key; do not scratch or rub the rash; avoid heat exposure; and seek medical advice for persistent cases. The most common treatments for a severe face mask-related rash are steroid- or non-steroid-based anti-inflammatory creams, and extensive treatments are rarely needed for these cases.

In the meantime, Dr. Irene advises all to practice social distancing and frequent hand-washing as well as the correct and responsible use of face masks. 

Source: Anadolu Agency