These Are The Top 4 Pandemic-Related Skin Issues — Do you Have Them?

Maskne is definitely a thing, along with pigmentation from not wearing sunblock at home.

At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, survival, and not skincare problems, was at the top of everyone’s list of priorities. But now that we’ve been surviving for a while, attention has been turned to the various issues that have arisen as a result of the pandemic, and skin concerns are one of these. spoke to Dr Angela Hwee, lead doctor at DRx Clinic Singapore, which specialises in medical aesthetic treatments, and asked her what skincare issues she’s been seeing in her clients since reopening her clinic in Phase 2 in June. This is what she told us.

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Long hours of mask-wearing has led to skin problems — maskne is very real. 

#1: Acne — thanks to masks… and the baking at home trend
Dr Hwee tells us she’s not surprised that certain issues popped up, and these are to be expected as a result of lifestyle changes thanks to the Circuit Breaker and Phase 2.

She’s seen a lot of acne issues, both from clients with existing acne problems which were under control prior to the outbreak, whose problems resurfaced as they were unable to get their usual help or medication, and also from new sufferers of acne issues. Some of these are due to mask-wearing, as heat and moisture are trapped in the masks, leading to mask acne, or maskne, thanks to an ideal breeding environment for bacteria which cause acne and sensitivity.

“Quite a lot of people have maskne,” says Dr Hwee. “But we can’t blame everything on the mask all the time.” According to the doc, interestingly enough, lifestyle and habit changes during the eight weeks of the Circuit Breaker led to skin problems, as people consumed more sugar and carbs at home. Excessive consumption of sugar and carbs has been known to cause problem skin. Says Dr Hwee, “Everyone was baking at home during the CB, right? Some may also have consumed more cow’s milk, which has a strong relationship with acne problems.”

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DRx Clinic's Dr Angela Hwee with safety equipment on during a consult.

#2: Pigmentation — ’cos no one wore sunblock at home.
We know that UVA rays, which cause photo-ageing like fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots, can pass through the windows of your home, car or office, even on rainy or cloudy days, and that these rays penetrate deep. But not everyone is familiar with this knowledge, or maybe they forgot, because Dr Hwee tells us she saw an influx of clients with new pigmentation problems, which arose as a result of not wearing sunscreen for a few months. “Everyone associates sunblock with going out, so no one wore sunblock at home. But there are a lot of UV rays in your house, and blue light as well.” Remember to wear a sunscreen with broad spectrum protection at all times, whether you’re home or out.

#3: Ezcema as a result of stress or heat and humidity.
Dr Hwee also saw some eczema flare-ups in patients caused by the stress of the CB and pandemic. “The fact that people did not use air-con at home, as opposed to in their office, also caused eczema flare-ups, as they were exposed to more heat and humidity.”

#4: Lines and wrinkles — ’cos the Botox wore off.
“It’s essential, you know!” laughs Dr Hwee about Botox and fillers. “All the lines and wrinkles were coming back!” She tells us her first appointment of the day when her clinic was allowed to perform aesthetic procedures again was for a Botox treatment, and she’s been packed with appointments since then.

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DRx Clinic has come up with a home care kit called the EFR@home kit ($106), a facial kit adapted from the popular Essential Facial Re/juvenation (EFR) treatment conducted by DRx Aesthetic Specialists, to unclog, soothe and detoxify urban-polluted skin. Great for those who aren't quite ready to go back to clinics or facial spas, or who want to bring the aesthetic experience home. 

Some solutions if you’re experiencing skin problems, from Dr Angela Hwee:

1. Change your habits — start with taking less sugar, simple carbs and dairy in your diet, and you may see an improvement.

2. Use oil-free moisturisers or products with lighter formulas if you’re facing acne problems.

3. Clean face or remove make-up using water-based removers, like micellar water.

4. Use non-mineral make-up, or just powder foundation instead of liquid foundation.

5. For more serious acne or pigmentation issues, get treated with prescription creams from the doctors, and for even more extreme cases, oral medication may be necessary.

6. Pigmentation problems can be treated with lasers or other clinical procedures for quicker results.

DRx Clinic is at Tong Building, 302 Orchard Road, #16-01/02, Tel: 6733-1555. More info at


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