Maskne and Maskitis – Your Questions Answered

By the end of June 2020, nearly 90% of the global population lived in regions that had nearly universal mask use, or had laws requiring mask use in some public locations (1), and community mask use was recommended by nearly all major public health bodies in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is this new use of masks that has caused an unlikely but wide-spread side effects, namely ‘maskne’ and ‘maskitis’.

Celebrity New York dermatologist, Dr Dennis Gross has recently been discussing face coverings and how they have lead to some rather painful skin conditions; maskne, a type of acne which causes blemishes on the skin covered by face masks and the areas around it and maskitis, a dry and flaky rash that can spread across the face if left unchecked.

People with oily or acne-prone skin are most likely to suffer from maskne, but it can affect everyone. It can be caused by friction of the mask against the skin, humidity in the mask and bacteria inside the mask.(2)

If spots and pimples appear around the mouth and chin area, use a product that targets acne, such as the Manuka Doctor Manuka & Tea Tree Antiseptic Gel to fight bacteria and inflammation caused by blemishes.

“Excellent product. Dealt with blemishes really well. Love this product and range” Rachal S

“Very good for blemishes when applied to the spot, stops the itching and burn fast, it cools it down and is not drying or sticky on skin it does help to make the spot seem smaller so that's good news for me, gradually healing up.” Jenny L

“I am addicted to the Manuka Doctor range but this is my go to product. When I am breaking out in spots, I apply this product to the affected area and within a few hours, the spot has virtually gone! 100% recommend! Worth every penny!” Sophie

If you are experiencing a skin rash of small red bumps, as well as dryness and flaking then you are more than likely to be suffering from maskitis. 

The “-itis” in maskitis is a suffix used for lots of medical conditions, including arthritis, tonsillitis and hepatitis. It means “inflammation”. This essentially means maskitis is a type of inflammation that happens when you wear a mask.(3)

People with eczema who wear a mask may find that this triggers an allergic reaction and experience a flare-up on their face. Skin could also become irritated by an allergic reaction to the fabric or laundry detergent. These symptoms can become worse through friction (rubbing) and heat, both of which can be a problem when you’re wearing a mask.

If you’re having a bad reaction to wearing your mask, it’s always a good idea to speak to a doctor. They can help you work out if you have an allergy or a skin condition. If the reaction is mild you should be able to manage the symptoms with anti-inflammatory products, such as the Manuka Doctor Manuka & Tea Tree Antiseptic Gel, a cooling formula which soothes irritated skin.

Infused with hydrating Manuka Honey from our own hives, antioxidant rich Propolis and anti-bacterial Tea Tree, this fast-acting antiseptic gel delivers a refreshing sensation on contact with skin and helps to ease feelings of uncomfortableness, reduce inflammation and calm skin.

“This product is excellent for sensitive irritated skin. There’s nothing on the market that relieves itching like this. I love it!” Jennifer C

“These cream is amazing. It’s cleared my skin when I get infections/ inflammations. The application is easy.” Andi D

“To me this is quite something as I have psoriasis and need all the help I can get. I have found the Tea Tree Antiseptic Gel a huge help. Psoriasis itches and grows, I have found the Gel reduces it and helps stopping the itching. I can't praise it enough.” Jenny

Manuka honey and Propolis have long been hailed as hero ingredients. We all know that bees make Honey from nectar but what you might not know is that they also make a substance called Propolis from tree sap and buds. Propolis has long been considered to have medicinal properties, with ancient civilisations using it for everything from treating wounds to embalming mummies.(4) It has a high level of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant, and can have anti-fungal properties too.

Manuka honey is both moisturising and antimicrobial meaning that it not only fights bacteria it hydrates and soothes skin too. Its high sugar content means it prevents most microorganisms from growing by limiting the available water plus the antibacterial compound called methylglyoxal (MGO) increases the antibacterial effect.

The importance of honey has also been documented in the world’s oldest medical literatures and since ancient times it has been known to possess antimicrobial property as well as wound-healing activity. The healing property of honey is because it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition and its high viscosity helps provide a protective barrier to prevent infection.

Honey inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi by reducing their development on the skin surface. Honey is particularly suitable as a dressing for wounds and burns, and has also been included in treatments against pityriasis, tinea, seborrhea, dandruff, diaper dermatitis, psoriasis. (5)

Honey and Propolis are often used to heal burn wounds. They possess numerous functional properties such as: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, disinfectant, antifungal and antiviral.(6)

Katie Piper, burns victim, best-selling international author, inspirational speaker, TV presenter and charity founder knows all too well about the healing benefits of Manuka honey.

Manuka honey is another favourite; it’s used in burns units for dressings and I recently discovered Manuka Doctor skincare. I use their oils, creams and serums – it’s more of a treatment than a beauty product.
Katie Piper

Complementary and alternative medicines such as Tea tree (melaleuca) oil have become increasingly popular in recent decades. This essential oil has been used for almost 100 years. The primary uses of Tea tree oil have historically capitalized on the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions of the oil, (7) making it the perfect ingredient to partner with Manuka hõney and Propolis in the Manuka Doctor Tea Tree Antiseptic Gel.

Of all the properties claimed for Tea tree, its antimicrobial activity has received the most attention. The earliest reported use of the M. alternifolia plant was the traditional use by the Bundjalung Aborigines of northern New South Wales. Crushed leaves of “tea trees” were inhaled to treat coughs and colds or were sprinkled on wounds. (8)


So make the Manuka Doctor Tea Tree Antiseptic Gel the hero of your 2021 household staples. Buy it here.

Other ways to prevent symptoms of maskne or maskitis is to wear a mask made from cotton rather than synthetic materials, as cotton is softer and less likely to cause rubbing. Wash your mask regularly with a mild, fragrance-free detergent to remove dirt, dead skin and irritants. Keep your skin moisturised throughout the day to reduce the effects of rubbing.

Our Manuka Doctor simple unisex design face mask is made with a 100 per cent cotton inner, making it long lasting, washable and comfortable to wear. Designed with a double layer to meet World Health Organisation recommendations, it is easy to breathe through and has adjustable ear loops meaning you can get the perfect fit and tightness to suit you. We prefer re-usable and washable masks here at Manuka Doctor HQ as they are kinder to the environment.

“Top marks - comfortable and well fitting. Does not steam up glasses and will be reordering another mask for a friend. Looks great in black and top quality when washed. Great value at £5 having wasted money on other poor quality masks previously. Environmentally friendly as reusable. Feels safe, secure and offers protection as advertised.” Sally B


  1. What countries require masks in public or recommend masks? Accessed 26 June 2020
  4. Burlando B., Cornara L. Honey in dermatology and skin care: A review.  Cosm. Dermatol. 2013;12:306–313. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12058. [PubMed] [CrossRef] [Google Scholar]
  5. Bee Products in Dermatology and Skin Care. 2020 Feb; 25(3): 556. Anna Kurek-GóreckaMichał GóreckiAnna Rzepecka-StojkoRadosław Balwierz and Jerzy Stojko
  6. El-Soud A., Helmy N. Honey between traditional uses and recent medicine.  J. Med. Sci. 2012;5:205–214. doi: 10.3889/mjms.1857-5773.2012.0213.
  7. F. CarsonK. A. Hammerand T. V. Riley. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.
  8. Shemesh, A., and W. L. Mayo. Australian tea tree oil: a natural antiseptic and fungicidal agent. Aust. J. Pharm. 72:802-803.