Cutaneous impact of surgical mask versus N 95 mask during covid-19 pandemic: Incidence of dermatological side effects and response of topical methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA) treatment to associated contact dermatitis

Dr. Zaib, Farwa Naqvi, Sara Inayat, Nadeem Yaqoob, Kehkshan Tahir, Uzma Sarwar, Fida Muhammad


Objective To compare the incidence of cutaneous hazards of surgical mask versus N 95 mask in health care providers during covid-19 pandemic and response of topical methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA) to associated contact dermatitis.


Place and Duration of Study Outpatient Dermatology Department of DHQ Teaching Hospital, Sargodha Medical College, Sargodha during month of April 2020.


Methods Total 300 participant who use surgical masks or N95 for more than 10 days during duty hours were interviewed in order to fill a pre-designed proforma regarding cutaneous impact of using mask versus N95 masks. Side effects were noted like increased localized general sweating, localized acne (folliculitis), localized itching and burning, redness (erythema), contact dermatitis on face, dryness at contact area, behind the ear dermatitis (retro-auricular dermatitis) and frictional hyperpigmentation. The data was tabulated and analyzed by descriptive analysis on SPSS 20. Patients with active contact dermatitis were prescribed topical methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA) 0.1 w/w twice daily and asked to revisit after one week to access response of treatment.


Results Use of N95 masks was associated with 25(16.67%) localized general sweating, 11(7.33%) localized acne (folliculitis), 10(6.67%) redness (erythema), 5(3.33%) contact dermatitis on face and 2 (1.33%) frictional hyperpigmentation which was more as compared to surgical masks. Participants with contact dermatitis were prescribed anti histamines and topical methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA) 0.1% w/w twice daily for one week. On revisit after one week, out of 28 participants, 19(67.85%) had more than 50% improvement in their symptoms.


Conclusion Use of N95 masks are associated with more cutaneous side effects as compared to use of surgical masks. In addition, topical methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA) is an effective treatment for patients with contact dermatitis caused by prolonged use of these masks.



Surgical masks; N95 masks; cutaneous; dermatitis; methylprednisolone aceponate (MPA)

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