Posted on Dec 22, 2020, 6 p.m.
In some people, moisture, humidity, and heat mixed with wearing a tight mask may be creating an environment that can contribute to mouth infections. If you have red bumps around your mouth and crack at the corners of your lips this may indicate a fungal infection.
Many people are already experiencing maskne due to mandates imposed by local officials and governors, if that wasn’t pesky enough to deal with there are other skin issues to worry about: candida overgrowth, which in simple terms is a yeast infection around your mouth. If you think you may have candida overgrowth triggering mouth sores, there are some things that you can do about it.
According to the NIH, there is a lot happening in your mouth with around 700 species of microbes setting up camp in it, some of these are beneficial and some not so much and there is also fungus, which is normal but can cause a variety of problems, and these imposed mask conditions allow yeast to thrive.
Wearing a mask all the time makes you more susceptible to mask induced skin issues. While maskne is the most common problem, experiencing a candida infection is very possible as both saliva and the skin contain parasitic fungi from the Candida genus.
Candida can exist without causing problems, but when Candida albicans takes hold it can cause an infection if it grows out of control. When this specific species of candida overgrows in the vagina it creates a yeast infection, when it overgrows in the mouth it creates thrush. One can also have this yeast growth in the folds of skin like under the breasts.
Candida thrives in humid environments like the ones that are created under masks, and while a mask is not the sole cause of skin infections, that combination of moisture, heat, humidity, and a tight mask together worsen the underlying conditions that will prompt a fungal or bacterial infection. This combination can result in raw, red, irritated, or chapped areas on the skin or a rash, and even worse infection.
Candida overgrowth can be tough to distinguish from acne because the symptoms of this type of infection may also look like red bumps or pus pimples, but one of the signs is that the irritation is in the corners of the mouth. Candida infection in the mouth can appear as cracking, irritation, bleeding, and redness on the corners of the mouth(angular cheilitis). Wearing a mask is one risk but it can also happen to those with dentures and children using pacifiers.
If you are not sure what is happening with your skin consult with a dermatologist to address your concerns, many now offer virtual appointments, and your provider may be able to tell if you have acne or candida overgrowth through the virtual appointment.
This type of infection can be fairly easy to treat with the same types of topical antifungal creams that are used for athlete’s foot, or by using a dandruff shampoo that contains ketoconazole to wash the affected part of your skin. If the main issue is angular cheilitis talk to a dermatologist, who might recommend using an antifungal ointment on the corners of your mouth like Lotrimin or clotrimazole.
If you are experiencing skin problems that are being triggered by wearing a face mask you can also take some extra precautions. It is better to wear a mask over clean skin, avoid wearing makeup under the mask, when removing the mask try not to drag it over your skin, make sure to change your mask frequently throughout the day, and be sure to wash your mask after every use before wearing it again. Changing your mask throughout the day and washing them before reusing is essential, especially if they become damp or you have worn one for a long period of time.
While we are being told we have to wear masks, adopting a few mask hygiene habits like regular changing and washing masks can help to keep your skin and mouth to look and ultimately feel more healthy, after all, who wants to deal with a mouth fungal infection on top of everything else we have to navigate in our daily lives.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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