An online survey of Canadians with rosacea found that for many, necessary mask wearing during the pandemic is causing a worsening of symptoms.

mask wearing worsening rosacea symptomsThe survey of 110 Canadians with rosacea showed 66% are seeing a worsening of their symptoms such as facial redness (74%), pimples and pustules (74%) and more flareups of rosacea (56%). Global dermatology company Galderma undertook the survey.

According to Dr. Jerry Tan, a Windsor dermatologist and Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Ontario: “Mask wearing is essential given public safety concerns about Covid 19.

“However, masks rub against the skin. There can be oil, bacteria, yeast, makeup and sunblock trapped behind the material causing the pores to become blocked or irritated. When you factor in that most people with rosacea have highly sensitive, reactive skin, symptoms can worsen for many.”

Despite rosacea symptoms getting worse, about half (52%) of the respondents said they were using mask wearing as a way to hide their rosacea. Rosacea features such as facial redness, visible blood vessels and pimples can cause low self-esteem, embarrassment and social anxiety.

About a third (36%) said they were not going out as often as usual to avoid wearing a mask. Survey findings showed over a third (36%) are spending longer on their skin care regimens. Many are trying non-prescription treatments (58%) to help with their condition.

The survey also found only 1 in 5 (20%) visited their doctor or dermatologist in person during the pandemic while 14% had a video consult. Many (49%) did not want to book an appointment while 24% were unable to get one.

“If you are suffering from rosacea, book an appointment with your health care provider via phone, video or in-person if possible. It is important to adhere to prescribed treatments and seek professional support if you are experiencing worsening of signs and symptoms because of mask wearing,” said Dr. Tan.

He offered these tips to help lessen rosacea flare-ups due to mask wearing:

  • Moisturize more often to lessen friction and maintain the skin’s natural barrier
  • Wear a cotton mask if possible
  • Use gentle skin care products
  • Keep mask straps snug but not tight
  • Take a mask break when it is safe to do so