by | Apr 27, 2020 | Dermatology, Uncategorized

What is causing your skin issues during quarantine and how to prevent them

by | Apr 27, 2020 | Dermatology, Uncategorized

By Noelani González, MD, dermatologist


View Noelani’s recorded webinar with extended Q&A


Unpredictable, a word that not only defines our current state of affairs and what is going on in our world right now because of the Coronavirus, but also could be describing your skin during quarantine. As if a pandemic and all the repercussions that have come from it weren’t enough for us to deal with, many people are also having to deal with their skin having issues and “freaking out”. 


One would think that self-isolation would give our body’s largest organ some well needed rest and would do our complexion some good, so then why is our skin rebelling?


Many people are experiencing all sorts of issues with their skin, from breakouts, dry patches or irritation, to dullness, and even worsening of pre-existing skin conditions such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, and more. Here’s why your skin may be so unpredictable right now and how you can avoid these issues:


1. The problem: Acne breakouts


The Cause:

When our body is stressed, we release increased levels of a hormone called cortisol, this in turn increases sebum/oil production which eventually leads to acne breakouts.

Decreased sleep and/or physical activity
Not getting enough sleep can also increase your levels of cortisol, and increase breakouts. Also, when your body is used to channeling stress through physical activity, and you suddenly take that away, your skin could manifest it through stress-induced acne. 

Your cellphone
We are currently trying to find ways to stay connected to our loved ones, and one of these ways has been by talking more on the phone. Continued friction from having your phone up against your cheek can cause acne, and is known as acne mechanica. Also, bacteria on your phone from constant use could be contributing to the development of breakouts, especially on the side of your face where you usually use your phone.

Use of masks
This applies to everyone, but especially for healthcare providers. Masks can occlude your pores, clogging them, and cause breakouts. Make sure to clean your masks, try not to wear makeup underneath, throw overly used masks that have makeup or dirt away, and give your skin a chance to breathe when a mask is not needed.

Change in diet
It’s no secret that some of us love to eat when we are stressed, and we’re not necessarily going to the fridge for a celery stick or an apple…who are we kidding? We are grabbing the chocolate chip cookies, or ordering some pizza (I will always be guilty of this!). This change in our eating behavior from a healthy well-balanced diet to a diet composed mainly of refined sugars and carbohydrates can worsen breakouts and acne.


2. The problem: Dryness or Irritation


The Cause:

Increased time indoors
For a majority of us, we are likely spending more time indoors than we ever have in our lives. The air is dryer indoors, and our air conditioners or heaters are probably on. Dry air will undoubtedly cause your skin to get drier because it can’t pull enough moisture from it. Try turning off the heater every so often, and consider investing in a humidifier to add moisture back into the air.

Constant face and hand washing
Excessive face and hand washing can strip your skin of its own natural oils, causing it to get dry and breakout. Always remember to moisturize with a thick cream or ointment after washing your hands.

Increased exposure to cleaning products
We are all becoming a bit clean obsessed! Constant use of cleaning products can lead to hand dermatitis, which is when skin is inflamed, red and swollen, with a damaged dried-out or scaly surface. Try to wear gloves while you are cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. 

Trying new products
Many are using this time to take better care of themselves, but some of us might be getting a bit too creative and trying too many new and different things at once when it comes to our skincare. Be careful when trying new products, as they could be the cause of allergies or irritation. I always recommend trying one thing at once, and doing a test spot first. Try it out on a tiny patch of your skin, and if you have no reactions then you should be safe to use the product.


3. The Problem: Dullness


The Cause:

Increased screen time
There is no question our “screen time” has gone up, and if you really want to know by how much, you can check your phone – but I warn you, it is an eye opener!  Blue light found in computers, cell phones, and even indoor lighting can contribute to dark spots, photo-aging, and even worsen melasma, a condition in which brown patches appear on the face.

Not applying your sunscreen
Just because we are indoors does not mean we shouldn’t apply our sunscreen. UV rays can still penetrate through windows. Using a sunscreen that contains an ingredient called iron oxide can help protect from blue light as I mentioned above!



Fun Fact: Skin is your body’s largest organ


Body organs aren’t only internal like the liver or the heart. Skin is, in fact, our largest organ. In adults, it averages about 6-10 pounds, but can vary greatly by individual. Skin acts as a waterproof shield, guarding the body against extremes in temperature, damaging sunlight, and harmful chemicals. It also exudes antibacterial substances that prevent infection and manufactures vitamin D for converting calcium into healthy bones. Skin additionally helps regulate body temperature and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.

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