The professional skin care industry continues to see the primary and secondary effects of the pandemic. For example, one study found that more than one-third of health care workers complained of acne, facial itching and dermatitis from wearing an N95 mask.1 Another study found that almost 60% of wearers presented acne.2
This has translated to the general public as well. The medical community is reporting that personal protection equipment (PPE) such as masks are presenting an increase in pressure injury, contact dermatitis, itch as well as exacerbation of preexisting skin diseases, including seborrheic dermatitis and acne in patients.3
An increase in stress can also cause acne exacerbation due to hormonal imbalances and increase in the stress hormone cortisol. Recent studies have shown that our stress levels have perhaps not ever been so high. According to one recent study, nearly 7 in 10 employees indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career, resulting in marked increases in new prescriptions for antidepressant, anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia medications.4
Considering that under normal circumstances acne can affect up to 50 million people in the United States and can also be found in adults—with over 50% of women and 40% of men suffering from acne in their adult years5—this increase can cause the amount of acne incidence to become quite high.