Tips on alleviating face masks’ rashes and skin irritations

Before the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Adam Friedman, professor and interim chair of dermatology at George Washington University, rarely wore a face mask. Today, working full days at the GWU outpatient facility, he wears one up to eight hours a day. As a result, his face has become perennially inflamed with an angry red rash.
“I’m now a dermatologist and a patient at the same time,” he says.
While he isn’t seeing many patients in person — only urgent cases — he’s still around his co-workers all day, so the mask must stay on. “These masks are super uncomfortable,” he says.
Skin irritation from wearing personal protective equipment is a hazard already familiar to health-care providers working in settings where infection control is critical. Now it has also become familiar to many people wearing masks in public, and frequently washing their hands. (Even bandannas and cloth masks, different from medical masks, can cause reactions, depending on the cloth, dyes and the detergent used to clean them, experts say.)

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