Face Masks can aggravate your rosacea

Written by on December 16, 2020 in in the news, Rosacea Fact Sheets, Rosacea Symptoms with 8 Comments
woman in white face mask

Unsurprisingly a documented case of a health worker with an aggravated incidence of rosacea due to the continued use of personal protective equipment has been published. For many rosacea sufferers around the world that are required to wear PPE for work purposes this may be a real issue. Indeed in many countries a face mask is required by anyone venturing outside their home.

There was no magic bullet discovered in this case study, rather just the opportunity for health professionals to be aware of the possibility of aggravating rosacea symptoms because of work mandated safety equipment. Some rosacea sufferers may even not be able to work in the health field due to the requirement to wear aggravating coverings for extended periods.

Perhaps you have some tips about how rosacea sufferers can endure PPE? How do you reduce your reactions to having to wear a covering? Let us know below.

Article Extract

Flare-up of Rosacea due to Face Mask in Healthcare Workers During COVID-19 [PDF]

January 2020, MAEDICA – a Journal of Clinical Medicine, 15(3):416-417

Masks (medical masks, respirators like N95 and cloth masks) are
mandatory for healthcare workers in order to prevent spread of
infectious droplets in between persons by cough or sneeze. Wearing a mask for hours could cause exacerbation of rosacea, a skin disorder recently reported in nurses working in COVID Units


The present case highlights the idea of an occupational rosacea due to protective measures during COVID-19 pandemic, which may be job
threatening because its peculiar clinical features (pustular rosacea).

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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8 Reader Comments

  1. maryeladd says:

    I can relate to the attention from others during flare-ups, it just makes me more conscious of it and more uncomfortable. I’ve never missed work because of my rosacea.

    Late April I was wearing a surgical mask which had to be adjusted all the time. It was uncomfortable and scratchy.

    I started working at home for my full-time job. Then I was put on furlough for several months until currently being unemployed. Doing interviews makes me flare-up a lot and throw in anxiety. I am not in a hurry to look for work.

    Through the pandemic I continued to work my part-time cleaning job which is physically demanding. I wear a mask and gloves. Since I have been wearing a cotton mask this is much more comfortable.

    The important thing is to clean. I use a gentle cleanser before and after work. Don’t forget the sunscreen. I grab a clean cotton mask to go (at work always carry spares to switch to and throw dirty in laundry). I have hand sanitizer in pocket to use.

    I have also started using an ice roller. This is a great device to cool skin. It can be carried along with you and stored in freezer at work when you flare, use while on a break away from others. You may want to pat skin with a clean tissue before replacing your mask. Mask loses affect once wet.

    I have also started a blog, All About Our Skin, with postings on my rosacea. This is keeping me busy.

  2. Comment via email from Judy.

    “I’m an NP in ED, masks have markedly exacerbated my rosacea, have had to take doxycycline, pustules controlled on 50 mg BID, burning and erythema still an issue”

  3. email comment from Jan.

    “I am a Crna and I have worked in operating rooms for 34+ years. I feel that your article is very misleading. I have not had any problem due to a mask. Maybe you shouldn’t write about one person without doing more research on subject. It is very misleading.”

    • Jim says:

      Because you haven’t had a problem with masks, writing about others who have had problems is misleading? You may have a problem.

  4. email comment from Anne.

    “Thank you for your interest in irritated facial skin after many hours of wearing a face mask.

    I had been wearing a face mask in March, April, May, June, July, August… for

    Many months….

    I think my institution switched to a different kind of material for the mask

    Now… I do have redness on my face from the mask.

    The lining inside the mask is rough and hairy like sand paper.

    The dermatologist prescribed a steroid cream….

    Any dermatologist would know it.

    Even Cort-Aid….

    My question is….

    What about putting a cream covering inside the mask….

    Smoothing cream into the lining of the mask before you put it on your f ace.

    Just a thought.


    A senior health care worker.”

  5. Barbara says:

    My dermatologist prescribed a barrier cream. My insurance would not allow it d/t a top tier cost and internal occupational health told me to cut up my pillow cases for cloth liners or have your dermatologist wrrite a prescription for a hooded respirator. So frustrating.

  6. I’m 69 and had never been diagnosed with rosacea, although I realize now I’ve always had a mild case. I find the masks so uncomfortable and irritating. Three months of trying to clear up what I thought was acne on the side of my nose without success sent me to my dermatologist, who diagnosed rosacea and gave me a prescription for a pricey gel, but it’s helping. I’m grateful I’m retired and don’t need to wear a mask for hours at a time. An hour at church is bad enough.

  7. Catherine says:

    My optometrist just diagnosed me with ocular rosacea this week and I realize I’ve had it for 5-6 yrs, at least, because I gave up my contacts about that long ago when my eyes just became too “irritated” to wear them in spite of having worn contacts for over 40 yrs! The optometrists and ophthalmologists would just change the contacts, wetting solutions, etc or give me liquid tears, etc but nothing ever helped so I gave up. I’ve had no noticeable or persistent skin problems until the last 2 years when the masking requirement was mandated in our state (California) and during this time my face has become increasingly sensitive over my nose and cheeks, feeling hot, irritated. and increasingly looking mildly flushed on my cheeks and nose. I’m 75 so I just had attributed any skin changed to age but I have worn sunscreen for 35 yrs and generally avoid sun exposure and have fairly limited sun damage to my skin. I rarely drink and spicy food does not seem to affect my skin but hot weather and hot temperature does and I can tell my face has become increasingly intolerant of that. The thing at present that seems to to be the most irritating to my face is the masking which seems to hold the heat and humidity right next to my face. I rarely go anywhere that I have to wear a mask because of that–only into the grocery store and occasionally on an airplane or to a doctor’s office. Otherwise I stay at home. I think that part of the reason that some of my skin symptoms may have been controlled is that I have already been using non-soap, gentle skin cleansers, niacinamide serums, and green tea and caffeine serums on my skin as well as lots of moisture cream and sunscreen but now with the masks, those don’t seem to be enough to keep my skin symptoms under control

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