Better Loosen It!

Masks help lessen the viral load of COVID-19 transmission, so until COVID-19 is tamed, they are a good idea.

However, wearing masks daily can have some unfortunate consequences. It may cause mass erythematous and painful lesions of the retroauricular skin (behind the ear), leading to incorrect growth and angulation of the outer ear. Preadolescent children have underdeveloped auricular (ear) cartilage, and prolonged pressure from elastic on masks can push the ears out. Fortunately, there is a cure for ear protrusion. Ear splints can be used to compress the ears back (parallel) to the head. Seriously, using masks with ear loops in growing children for many hours a day can lead to irregular ear development (COVID-19 ear), as well as increased acne and eczema.

Some other unintended consequences include:

MASKNE (mask-wearing and acne):
  • Higher temperatures and ambient high humidity, combined with irritation to the pilosebaceous ducts in the skin can aggravate acne.
  • Changes in the skin’s composition and hydration, which disrupt the skin barrier, can lead to an imbalance of bacterial microflora.
  • The long hours put in by healthcare workers, who continually mask up, increases their risk of aggravating their acne or rosacea. While this is easy to diagnose, treatment is tricky since “non-masking” is not an option.

The exponential increase in face-mask usage is causing different types of dermatitis, including many patients reporting retroauricular (top & back of ear) irritation, caused by the mask’s ear loops.

Dermatologists have reported an unusual rise in “cell-phone acne” during the COVID-19 pandemic. This happens when people talk for a long time on their cell phones with the same hand/side of their face. The increased heat from the phone, sweat, oil trapping, friction and germs, such as staphylococcus, can trigger acne.

And Because it is April Fool’s Day…
Top 10 FOOLish COVID-19 Comments:
  1. Scripps Institute of Oceanography’ chemist, Kim Prather, warned people to stay out of the ocean for fear of COVID-19 transmission.
  2. On January 30, 2020, Dr. Nancy Messonier (Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease) said, “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness, and we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.”
  3. President Trump promoted the idea of using an ultraviolet light inside the body or a disinfectant as treatment for COVID-19. “It knocks it out in a minute. One minute,” he said. “You get it in the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”
  4. On Feb. 27, 2020, the CDC did not currently recommend the use of face masks to help prevent the novel coronavirus. We wonder what the CDC doctors forgot from high school, pre-med, med school and residencies - that respiratory diseases are spread from the respiratory system. Coincidently, on April 1, 2020, the CDC changed their recommendations on masks
  5. On February 29, 2020 (of course something FOOLish would happen on Leap Day), US Surgeon General Jerome Adams told Americans, “STOP BUYING MASKS, they are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus.
  6. In the Surgeon General’s defense, on February 27, 2020, CDC Director Robert Redfield also said healthy people should not wear face coverings
  7. On March 8, 2020, Dr. Fauci said “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask.
  8. Dr. Fauci made another appearance on this list. On January 26, 2021, he said “Wearing two masks is better than one when it comes to warding off the coronavirus.” Not to be outdone, Michigan’s Dr. Dawn Misra has been advocating the double-mask.
  9. North Korea has continued to insist that there are NO COVID-19 cases in their country.
  10. Finally, our favorite statement (which is NOT FOOLish) is from Dr. Joseph Varon, CMO of Houston Hospital who said, “I’m pretty much fighting two wars: A war against COVID and a war against stupidity. And the problem is the first one, I have some hope about winning. But the second one is becoming more and more difficult.” He told NBC News,  “The thing that annoys me the most is that we keep on doing our best to save all these people, and then you get another batch of people that are doing exactly the opposite of what you're telling them to do.”

Kevin Fitzpatrick, Fitzpatrick Translational Science

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