During the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals, shop workers and infected patients are wearing face masks most of the day. These masks are of critical importance, but prolonged utilisation is problematic as sweat, pressure, and rubbing erodes the nose and cheeks, causing tears, and infections.
Although this research was published earlier this year by skincare experts from the University of Huddersfield, it is highly relevant in the current situation. They studied how several medical devices, including face masks, cause device-related pressure ulcers.
Professionals cannot put protective dressings under these masks because they would preclude the masks from fitting, and working, correctly. To prevent damage, professionals should:
- Keep their skin clean, well-hydrated and moisturised.
- Barrier creams should be applied at least 30 minutes before fitting the mask.
- Relieve pressure from the masks every 2 hours by removing the mask in a safe place and cleaning the skin.
The idea is to keep the skin clean, dry, and free of sweat. If the users feel the mask is rubbing their skin, they should take them off as soon as safely possible.
For further information, the National Wound Care Strategy offers advice on wound care and pressure ulcers.