It is imperative to wear masks to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, but masks made with elastic or rubber may cause an allergic reaction called contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can affect up to 6% of the U.S. population. Symptoms include sore, red, itchy, or swollen skin after contact with an irritant or allergen. With contact dermatitis, the body’s response is not immediate. So, many individuals do not even know if they are allergic to their face masks. They may believe that they have come in contact with a common allergen outside.
If you suffer from contact dermatitis or sensitive skin and experience a rash on your face, your mask may be to blame. That’s why we recommend elastic-free face masks to help with your allergies.
Cases of Contact Dermatitis from Face Masks
In a recent report, a patient from Cincinnati, Ohio visited a hospital emergency room three times during the spring with complaints of a facial rash and eyelid swelling. The patient was sent home with prednisone then later followed up with her doctor during a telemedicine appointment which he reported the rash had been going on for two weeks. Physicians realized the rash occurred where the elastic parts of his face mask was. The patient was finally diagnosed with mask‐induced allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).
Other patients have complained of dry skin and acne from their face masks. Some masks can actually absorb the natural moisture on your face, drying out skin in the area. It is also possible for masks to trap acne-causing bacteria and sebum on the skin. Consult with our allergists to determine the proper moisturizer or topical cortisone for your face.
Diagnosing Mask-Induced Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Since contact dermatitis can be delayed, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose the skin condition. If you cannot identify mask-induced allergic contact dermatitis, you should visit an allergy center like NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for a diagnosis. Our allergy specialists can help diagnose your skin condition with a quick examination and patch testing if necessary. During the patch test, a substance is placed on a patch that is then applied to your skin. These substances may include formaldehyde or rubber components.
We offer personalized treatment plans and a recommendation for an elastic-free face mask. Just call (212) 686-6321 to book an appointment or schedule your consultation online.
Why Choose Elastic-free Face Masks
Bands in FFP2 masks, N95 respirators, neoprene rubber masks and medical masks contain formaldehyde or rubber components using carbamates or thiurams. When these bands rub against the skin, it can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. Individuals with contact dermatitis should choose a face mask without elastic or rubber.
Consider choosing face masks that use the knot tie method around the back of the head to keep the mask up. Cloth masks may also be helpful in reducing allergic reactions. The CDC recommends that your cloth mask be made of two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric. Be sure to also wash your masks regularly.