Coronavirus: Face masks could cause severe skin reactions, experts warn

Man wearing face mask

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While face masks were once rare sightings, they’re now compulsory in several settings across the UK.

However, a new study has warned that some face masks contain allergens that could cause severe skin reactions in some people.

Speaking at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting, researchers presented a case of a man with skin allergies, triggered by his face mask.

Dr Yashu Dhamija, who led the study, said: “We treated a 60-year-old Black man with adult-onset eczema, contact dermatitis and chronic nasal allergies in our clinic after he presented three times to our hospital emergency room (ER) because of an uncomfortable face rash.

“Up until April 2020, his skin conditions had been under control, but with mask-wearing, his symptoms began occurring in areas that providers were not yet accustomed to.”

Some face masks contain allergens that could cause severe skin reactions in some people
(Image: Getty)

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After his skin allergies flared up, the man went to A&E, where he was prescribed prednisone – a steroid regularly used to treat allergies.

However, his symptoms did not go away, leading the team to question the underlying cause.

Dr Kristin Schmidlin, a co-author of the study, said: “We realised that his rash appeared right where the elastic parts of a mask would rest.

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“We tapered down the prednisone and advised him to use a topical steroid and a topical immunosuppressant until the rash resolved.

“We also told him to use cotton-based, dye-free masks without elastic. At a follow up telephone visit one week later, the patient said his rash continued to improve.”

According to the researchers, people with skin allergies should look to avoid masks with elastic elements.

However, if you’re worried about your face mask, it’s always best to speak to your GP.