Slang dictionary

maskne

[ mask-nee ]

What is maskne?

Maskne is acne or other skin irritation that results from wearing a mask, especially a medical, N95, or cloth face mask.

Maskne trended during the outbreak of COVID-19 due to the widespread wearing of face masks to protect against the coronavirus. Maskne was especially prevalent among healthcare and other front-line workers.

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Where does maskne come from?

Maskne is a blend of the words mask and acne, a skin condition most often seen in the form of pimples. Maskne is used to refer to any acne or skin irritation that occurs on a person’s face (especially on and around the nose and chin) from regularly wearing a face mask.

As a blend word, maskne has its precedents. Consider bacne, acne on one’s back.

The most common type of maskne is technically known as acne mechanica, common among athletes who would wear helmets or chin straps for long periods of time.

Like a lot of acne, maskne is caused by a mixture of stress, friction, sweat, or other repeated pressures on the skin. Maskne can be treated with careful use of ordinary acne treatment products. Regularly washing face masks and healthy skincare practices can help prevent maskne. (If you seeking maskne treatment, please consult your doctor—not the dictionary!)

Maskne appeared on Twitter as early as March in 2020. The term maskne spread as more people began wearing masks to protect against the COVID-19 virus.

 

Mask-induced skin flare-ups became prevalent enough that the American Academy of Dermatology provided instructions on how to prevent them (though they did not directly use the word maskne).

The word mask further spread in summer 2020 as skin-care companies began selling products targeted at treating maskne, dermatologists adopted the slang to refer to the skin condition in health advice, and journalists repeatedly used the word maskne in news stories about the trending condition.

Examples of maskne

Is anyone else getting this maskne or is it just me. My face is breaking out horribly.
@shafawatimkthr_, August 1, 2020
Maskne—the most common kind of which is acne mechanica, a.k.a. the type of acne a football player may get where the helmet rubs—is also enough of a thing that the Covid-19 task force of the American Academy of Dermatology (A.A.D.) felt compelled to release advice on the subject.
Courtney Rubin, The New York Times, June 17, 2020

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Who uses maskne?

Currently, maskne almost exclusively refers to facial acne and other skin irritation on the face caused by frequently wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While maskne may have caused mild problems (which were sometimes discussed with a sense of humorous inconvenience) in the general public, the experience of maskne was more severe among healthcare and front-line workers.

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Note

This is not meant to be a formal definition of maskne like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of maskne that will help our users expand their word mastery.