Why You're Really Breaking Out During Quarantine

Thanks to shelter-in-place orders and quarantines, we aren't going out as much (or at all, for that matter), we're keeping our look casual with the addition of sweats and the subtraction of makeup, and the pollution levels have declined so much that the Earth's ozone layer over the Arctic has closed (via DW). So if we've done away with makeup, our skin is able to breathe, and we're not exposed to any pollution, why are we getting zits?

Unfortunately we may find that keeping our skins clear isn't as simple as we thought it would be, and our breakouts could, in fact, be triggered by just about anything. Dermatologists point out that because we're staying at home, we may also be changing our skincare routines, and all the dropping and changing of skincare products may actually have a negative effect on our skin. Working from home could also mean we are sitting in front of our computers more without the protective layer of UV that comes with our makeup. Additionally, because we're at home, we may be washing our hands less, which means we may subconsciously be picking at our faces more with less-than-clean hands (via Self).

You can blame "maskne" for your quarantine breakout

If you've been good about following the CDC's suggestion to wear a mask when you're outside, you'll also probably find that you're seeing more whiteheads pop up around the areas that come in regular contact with your mask — some are even referring to those types of breakouts as "maskne," and they aren't wrong. That said, the zits aren't actually triggered by the constant contact of cloth on skin, but rather by the constant rubbing that wearing a well-fitted surgical or cloth mask might cause. 

Dermatologist Dendy Engleman tells Elle: "Acne mechanica comes from friction. You irritate the skin, you get clogging of the pores, and then you get sebum and bacteria that proliferate under the skin," she says. "A lot of people think of it as a physical occlusion, but it would really need to be stuck to your skin in that case, like an adhesive."

Stress can be causing your quarantine breakout

If your diet has suffered because you're reaching for more comfort food, or you haven't been sleeping as well as you should, you could find your skin suffering from these changes in your routine. But that's not all, because the most obvious reason for an outbreak could be linked to changes in your mood. "For many people, stress can be a trigger for acne — and we are certainly living in stressful times," Dr. Julia Carroll, a Toronto-based dermatologist, tells Global News

Stress hurts our skin because it also triggers the release of cortisol, which can trigger acne flare-ups. The best way to try and get stress under control would be to meditate or exercise. To treat the breakout, you might want to use spot treatments like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which will help — particularly if you can avoid squeezing the zits yourself (via Vogue). And be patient, because the pandemic, like all things, will eventually pass.