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Beneath the Surface

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It’s not your imagination - the pandemic is causing skin problems

2020 has already brought us plague, fires, murder hornets, and Carol Baskins. Just when this year seemingly couldn’t get worse, a closeup during the third Zoom meeting of the day reveals a dull, broken-out face.

Thanks to the pandemic, previously clear skin is experiencing brutal breakouts, complexions are looking a bit dull, and chronic conditions are flaring. While much of this pales compared to the grave nature of coronavirus and economic woes, it’s still distressing.

What’s going wrong:

Wearing PPE, whether for quick but essential trips to the grocery store or for 12-15 hours a day as a frontline worker, can severely irritate the face. Ill-fitting masks can rub skin the wrong way. Makeup and dirt can clog pores. Breathing/talking/sighing as you notice someone touching their face and then touching every tomato in the store releases hot, moist air. That exasperated breath creates an ideal habitat for excess bacterial growth, yeast, and other microscopic flora to flourish.

Stress is also a culprit. When we become stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol. This causes our skin to increase sebum production. That sebum along with particles from the air and our own dead skin can clog pores. Stress can also worsen chronic conditions like rosacea and psoriasis.

With stress often comes changes in eating habits. Contactless delivery is tempting and more convenient than fixing more typical, healthy fare. Consuming additional refined sugars and simple carbohydrates can cause acne and other chronic skin conditions to flare.

The solution:

Make sure masks fit correctly. Clean and rotate PPE, ensuring that no sweat or makeup remains on the fabric. Work through stress reduction techniques. Meditation, yoga, and exercise can help decrease stress levels. Finally, take stock eating habits and note how food affects the skin. If problems persist, our dermatologists are available for online visits at any time. There is no need to set foot in an office.