Getting used to wearing face masks all of the time has brought on a ton of annoyances, ranging from mask breath to foggy glasses lenses to “mask-ne.” Another pet peeve is the way the loops of masks can irritate the delicate skin behind your ears. This, indeed, is a real problem. “Moisture and friction can cause irritation, as prolonged mask use can irritate sensitive skin,” Dr. David Lortscher, board-certified dermatologist and CEO of skin care brand Curology, told Today. And if you don’t do something about that irritation, you could actually end up with wounds, scabbing, and infections.
Everyone needs to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which is far more than an “annoyance,” given that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from coronavirus. But, that doesn’t mean people have to suffer from behind-the-ear discomfort. One simple way to prevent this problem is to apply an “occlusive,” such as an oil, to that tender skin every day before you put on your mask. And at night, you can soothe the area with a cream, advised board-certified dermatologist Dr. Purshiva Patel in MindBodyGreen. Really, this is a good practice for any part of your body that’s prone to friction, not just mask loops.
Hacks for avoiding irritation from mask loops
Your mask doesn’t actually need to have direct contact with the back of your ears to do its job effectively, but since most of them are designed to stay in place that way, you’ll need to MacGyver yours to keep your ears out of the equation. You can buy a soft, fabric headband that covers your ears, and sew buttons on it that the mask fastens to. Or, if you’re not handy with a needle and thread, you can buy a contraption like this on various websites, such as Etsy. If you’re more of a baseball cap kind of person than the type to wear a band, sew the buttons on your hat right above the ears, and use those buttons to fasten your mask, Health suggests.
It’s the elastic material of the ear loops that irritates most of us, though, so a very simple solution could be to wear a mask that stays in place using an alternative method aside from elastic loops. UnderArmour’s mask, designed for athletic use, instead uses a soft, sweat-proof fabric and comes in a variety of sizes to ensure a perfect fit.
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