A Basic Guide to “Maskne” and Other Acne Types

Dealing with zits right before a major social event can be frustrating, but acne is a highly common skin problem that pretty much everyone will experience at some point in life. Despite acne’s prevalence, however, angry breakouts of red, inflamed blotches often have a negative impact on body image and self-esteem. Those who suffer from more severe forms of the condition can develop depression and other types of emotional pain. In recent months, Philadelphia-area dermatology practices have seen a rise in cases of flare-ups caused by wearing a mask to limit the spread of COVID-19. The problem has been dubbed “maskne.”

Below, you’ll find an introductory guide to acne of all types from South Jersey Skin Care & Laser Center, as well as ideas for ways to clear spots up faster.

Symptoms of Acne

Acne can be classified as either non-inflammatory (blackheads and whiteheads) or inflammatory (papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts). Non-inflammatory acne doesn’t cause swelling, while inflammatory acne produces red, swollen, and painful blemishes due to a bacterial infection.

  • Blackheads: Open comedones (blocked pores) containing oil and skin cell debris. The pore’s outer layer remains open, and its contents turn dark when exposed to oxygen, forming black spots.
  • Whiteheads: Closed comedones clogged with oil and dead skin that remain closed and form small bumps.
  • Papules (Pimples): Red, sore lesions caused by bacteria multiplying.
  • Pustules (Pimples): Typical red bumps with white or yellow heads. They form in a similar way to papules, but contain pus and debris.
  • Nodules: Acne spreads deeper under the skin because of more severe inflammation and pore wall ruptures. These lesions cover a larger area, contain pus, and feel painful.
  • Cysts: The most severe, uncomfortable form of acne can leave scars. Cysts form at a deeper layer than nodules and are filled with pus and blood.

Types of Acne


Patients may be affected by one or a combination of the following types.

Acne Vulgaris/Hormonal Acne


Acne occurs at any stage of life and may spread on the face, neck, chest, shoulders, back, or anywhere on the body. It’s mainly linked to clogged pores from causes such as excess oil (sebum) production, bacteria, dead skin, and ingrown hairs.

Testosterone levels increase during puberty, triggering more sebum production for both sexes. The menstrual cycle also causes hormonal changes in women, which can lead to breakouts. Also referred to as “common acne,” this is the most frequent type and is often used as an umbrella term for acne types.


Over-the-counter products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and retinoids are effective on mild hormonal acne, while moderate to severe acne is treated with prescribed oral antibiotics and medications.

Acne Mechanica


This is linked to constant physical pressure and friction, rather than hormones. It usually happens to athletes, healthcare workers, and other professionals who wear heavy equipment and clothing such as headbands and bag straps that trap heat and sweat while rubbing against the skin. When you wear a mask for extended periods of time during lockdowns, “maskne” can occur around the covered area.


Take regular breaks from wearing a mask. Wear soft and breathable fabrics, wash your face twice daily before and after wearing a mask, keep your mask clean, moisturize before putting a mask on, and use gentle, fragrance-free products. Take regular showers right after physical activities if you suffer from acne mechanica on the body.

Acne Cosmetica


This is associated with the use of makeup and skin care products. It usually flares up on the face, neck, hairline, and scalp. This acne is mild and causes small papules and pustules. It occurs when heavy or oily products clog pores.


Leave your skin bare and makeup-free for a while, try over-the-counter products, exfoliate more often, cleanse your skin thoroughly at the end of each day, and consider switching to other skin products such as non-comedogenic ones.

Do not pick at or squeeze pimples, and this can cause inflammation to worsen. For more help, contact the South Jersey Skin Care & Laser Center team in the Philadelphia for more information on acne. Call 856-810-9888 or submit a contact form to request an appointment.

Share on Facebook
0Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Google+
0Pin on Pinterest
0Email this to someone

Like what you read? Share the love.
Categories: Beauty Lifestyle