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Caring for facial skin when wearing a mask

Caring for facial skin when wearing a mask

New advice to protect healthcare and personal care workers against mask-related facial injuries has been released.

Wearing masks – particularly P2/N95 masks, face shields and goggles – for long periods can cause pressure injuries and skin conditions such as rosacea, dermatitis, atopic eczema, dry and chapped lips, and acne.

P2/N95 masks have a particularly high risk for injury due to requirements for a firm fit. Skin injury can occur as a result of friction and the accumulation of moisture and heat under the mask.

The Department of Health and Human Services advises:

  • cleansing facial skin with a pH-balanced cleanser, then moisturising. Allow to dry fully before shift.
  • having regular drink breaks
  • removing mask every two to four hours for up to 15 minutes.
  • consider applying thin, unwrinkled dressings to protect skin. Apply dressings to nasal bridge, cheek bones and behind ears. Do not stack multiple dressings. P2/N95 respirators must be fit-checked once wrinkle-free dressings are in place to ensure the seal is not impaired.
  • check skin for redness/irritation and report to line supervisor.
  • consider referral to a GP or a dermatologist if severe irritation continues.

Make sure you perform hand hygiene between these steps and apply any dressings outside patient areas.

Download posters about caring for facial skin when wearing surgical and P2/N95 masks, and applying dressings to protect facial skin.

Read the factsheet ‘Extended P2/N95 respirator and eye protection use – preventing facial injury during coronavirus’.

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