Top 10 SIDE EFFECTS of wearing a MASK for long hours in HEALTHCARE WORKERS!! How to PROTECT from these side effects?

This Covid pandemic has taken a heavy toll on everyone, especially HEALTH CARE WORKERS. These are warriors who have helped us fight his pandemics by wearing PPE kits or long hours. Sometimes even for 8 to 10 hours.
MASKS form a very basic means of protection in PPE kits.
This necessity of wearing mask for long hours, made scientists to note down the side effects of wearing a mask!!
In various queastionare based forms filled by healthcare workers, it was found that atleast 35%-40% of health care workers wearing mask for long time face one or more than one of the following side effects-
Top 10 SIDE EFFECTS of wearing a MASK for long hours in HEALTHCARE WORKERS!! How to PROTECT from these side effects?


Primarily speaking, most of the side effects are caused due to friction caused by the borders of the mask. Using the mask again and again for long intervals stops the skin from proper healing at that location. This leads to the following side effects- 

  • Discomfort
  • Itching (31%- 52%) [mild to moderate intensity]
  • Skin tears
  • Erythema
  • Rash (36%)
  • Ulceration
  • Scaring
  • Acne (60%)
  • Crusting (69%)
  • Post inflammatory hyper-pigmentation

    Some other points to keep in mind about SIDE EFFECTS of MASKS

    There are certain population who are more prone to such side effects such as-

    • females are more prone such side effects than males
    • people with atopic dermatosis or seborrhoeic dermatitis (acne)
    These side effects increased when-

    • wore masks for more than 4 hours at a time
    • more prevalant in people with sensitive skin
    • more in people who have acne prone skin
    • these side effects were more in ZYGOMATIC BONE area of face. This is the area where the borders of mask comes in contact with face skin.
    Itching and discomfort of mask also makes an individual touch the mask more often and scratch the skin. This will make more chances of leak in the protective bubble.

    How to PROTECT yourself from SIDE EFFECTS of MASK?

    Various studies and theories have been tested in order to protect the wearer from such bad side effects
    During such studies care was taken to make sure masks maintain a proper fitting so that there in no leak in protective measure.
    • Silicone border dressing
      • A study showed masks when used with silicone border dressing, increased comfort with less friction. And when they tested the fitting, these infact increased the fit of the mask!!!
    Some other methods were also used in various studies (all mentioned in the end of the article). These were also found to decrease friction from the borders of the mask-

    • Alcohol free liquid Acrylate films
    • thin foam dressing
    • thick foam dressing
    • silicon based adhesive dressing
    These methods were found to be effective in decreasing the side effects and at the same time maintain the security bubble a mask forms.
    Top 10 SIDE EFFECTS of wearing a MASK for long hours in HEALTHCARE WORKERS!! How to PROTECT from these side effects?
    That’s all for this topic !!
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    1. Increased Prevalence of Face Mask-Induced Itch in Health Care Workers byPiotr K Krajewski and others. Biology (Basel). 2020.
    2. Face Mask-induced Itch: A Self-questionnaire Study of 2,315 Responders During the COVID-19 Pandemic by Jacek C Szepietowski and others in. Acta Derm Venereol. 2020.
    3. Facial Skin Temperature and Discomfort When Wearing Protective Face Masks: Thermal Infrared Imaging Evaluation and Hands Moving the Mask by Antonio Scarano and others in Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020.
    4. Peripheral Oxygen Saturation in Older Persons Wearing Nonmedical Face Masks in Community Settings by Noel C. Chanand others, published Online: October 30, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.21905
    5. The Impact of COVID-19 on the Faces of Frontline Healthcare Workers by Shino Bay Aguilera et al. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020.
    6. A Practical Way to Prevent Nose and Cheek Damage Due to the Use of N95 Masks in the COVID-19 Pandemic by Cavid Cabbarzade in Aesthet Surg J. 2020 Jul 17 : sjaa167. Published online 2020 Jul 17. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjaa167
    7. Adverse skin reactions to personal protective equipment against severe acute respiratory syndrome–a descriptive study in Singapore by Chris C I Foo and others Contact Dermatitis. 2006 Nov.
    8. The adverse skin reactions of health care workers using personal protective equipment for COVID-19 by Kaihui Hu and others Medicine (Baltimore). 2020.
    9. Preventing Facial Pressure Injury for Health Care Providers Adhering to COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment Requirements by Hiske Smart and others in Adv Skin Wound Care. 2020 Aug.
      Prophylactic Dressings for Maintaining Skin Integrity of Healthcare Workers When Using N95 Respirators

    10. While Preventing Contamination Due to the Novel Coronavirus: A Quality Improvement Project by Michelle Pacis and others in J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. Nov/Dec 2020.
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