"Face mask dermatitis" due to compulsory facial masks during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: data from 550 health care and non-health care workers in Germany

Eur J Dermatol. 2021 Apr 1;31(2):199-204. doi: 10.1684/ejd.2021.4007.


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, wearing face masks is mandatory not only for health care workers (HCWs) but also for the general population in many countries around the globe.

Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the onset of adverse facial skin reactions due to compulsory face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic in HCWs and non-HCWs, and draw awareness of this new dermatological condition and its preventive measures.

Materials & methods: A questionnaire was distributed to 550 patients and HCWs from the Department of Dermatology and Allergy of the University Hospital Munich (LMU), Germany. Participants were surveyed regarding mask type, duration of usage and adverse facial skin reactions. Information on symptoms and the use of skin care products and topical drugs were retrieved.

Results: The duration of wearing masks showed a significant impact on the prevalence of symptoms (p < 0.001). Type IV hypersensitivity was significantly more likely in participants with symptoms compared to those without symptoms (p = 0.001), whereas no increase in symptoms was observed in participants with atopic diathesis. HCWs used facial skin care products significantly more often than non-HCWs (p = 0.001).

Conclusion: Preventive and therapeutic measures should be established in order to avoid "face mask dermatitis", especially for people with underlying risk factors.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2 pandemic; adverse skin reactions; face mask dermatitis; health care workers.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Dermatitis, Contact / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Occupational / etiology*
  • Facial Dermatoses / epidemiology
  • Facial Dermatoses / etiology*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Masks / adverse effects*