Face masks have become essential in the paraphernalia for prevention of the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, healthcare workers and those who are in close contact with an infected person were advised to wear a face mask. However, with the spread of the pandemic, advisories have been updated, now recommending everyone to wear a mask to prevent them from the infection.
However, with prolonged usage of the mask come the dangers of skin irritation on the nose and the cheeks. Masks are supposed to be fitted snugly around these areas for maximum protection. But, the tighter they are, the more chances of irritation and corrosion on the surface of the skin.
A recent study by dermatologists at the University of Huddersfield investigates the same. It shows that the major reason for skin irritations is the wearer’s sweat underneath the mask which leads to friction and damage, especially around the nose and cheek.
Pressure ulcers Pressure ulcers form as a result of breaking down of the skin and underneath layers due to extra pressure on the skin. This is the most common damage that occurs due to the prolonged use of face masks. Tears and ulcers of such kind can increase the risk of infection and sepsis. They also cause a lot of pain and leave scars. Usually, the remedy for any skin damage is bandage the wound to prevent any further infection. However, in the particular case, wearing a dressing will prevent the mask from fitting properly and thus increase the risk of infection.
The group of people who are most susceptible to the ill effects of face masks are medical practitioners all across the globe. They work long hours in the hospitals and have no other option but to wear their masks 24X7. The panic-inducing and the stressful environment of the hospitals simply add to their problems. The research done by the doctors at the University of Huddersfield offer a few pieces that people who wear masks for a prolonged period of time can follow –
· It is important to keep your skin hydrated and moisturized to minimize friction and damage caused thereof.
· You can also try to apply a barrier cream, at least 30 minutes before putting on the mask.
· It is important to keep the skin underneath the mask clean.
· The pressure of the mask should be relieved after every two hours. It is advisable for medical practitioners to step into a safe place, where there is no risk of infection, and take off the mask to relieve pressure. You can also use this time to clean your skin again.
A general rule for anyone who is wearing a mask for long periods of time is to make sure your skin is clean and sweat-free and you safely take off the mask the moment you feel that it is causing any kind of irritation.