From red bumps to flaky skin: 4 ways your skin is freaking out in lockdown and how to fix it.

If you're in lockdown and you have skin on your face, chances are you're experiencing some ✨issues✨. 

Whether it's clusters of breakouts, random flaky patches of skin, red bumps, constant dryness or scaly everything - WE FEEL YOU. 

Isolation skin is a real b**ch. And it's confusing as hell. 

You haven't worn makeup in weeks, and for once in your life you're *actually* taking the time to look after your skin - giving it all the attention and midday masks it deserves. But then it has the NERVE to pull this kinda s**t on you?

So, what's the go? Why do we suddenly look like Two-Face?

Watch: Here are seven ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Well, it's not really a one-size-fits all kinda thing. There's probably a combination of different things that could be triggering your current skin meltdown. Like stress, a change in diet, less exercise, constantly wearing masks, etc. 

All of this put together is enough to stir up some new skin issues, flare-up underlying ones or produce a neat combination of both.

Here, we take a look at all the different skin concerns you could be suffering in lockdown, and asked some experts exactly what we should do to fix each one.

1. Breakouts.

"We thought that it was called 2020 skin, but the nightmare of lockdown skin has come back to haunt us. There are a number of reasons our skin breaks out during periods of lockdown," said dermatologist Dr Cara McDonald from Complete Skin Specialists.

Listen: A heart surgeon's tips for dealing with maskne. Post continues below.

"Firstly, there is an increased level of stress. This alters a number of stress hormones in our body which play havoc with all aspects of our skin, especially acne and inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis." 

"Secondly, we tend to spend more time indoors. Heating and air conditioning both cause dryness of the skin which is typically worse in winter, anyway." 


Dr McDonald said dryness can lead to increased acne breakouts, eczema and even perioral dermatitis (we'll get onto this concern later!).

Next, is the old 'zoom face' issue. The return of video conferencing means we're constantly touching our faces.

"It is well known that we tend to touch, scratch and pick at our skin whilst endlessly working and viewing ourselves on a screen."

Yikes! This is all of us.

"This can also exacerbate our breakouts and skin problems. Last, but not least, we are wearing masks which are very irritating for some people. Masks can cause acne breakouts, skin dryness and irritation depending on your underlying skin type," Dr McDonald said.

So, what do we do? What's the best way to get rid of these lockdown breakouts?

"The best advice during lockdown is to take some extra time to look after yourself. Ensuring that you have adequate sleep, a good diet and some exercise daily can reduce your stress hormones and improve your mood." 

When it comes to what kind of skincare products you should use, Dr McDonald suggests paring everything back and trying to keep your routine simple. A less-is-more approach is best here, folks. 

Your skin is fragile right now, so now is not a good time to try a whole heap of skincare products or suss out if at-home skin needling is for you. Yeah?

"Avoid touching or picking at your skin while working from home and ensure you are using a good barrier protection and gentle cleanser if you need to wear a mask regularly," she said.

Try Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, $11.99 or La Roche-Posay Effaclar H Soothing and Hydrating Cream Cleanser, $19.39. For those with oily skin, Bioderma Sebium Gel Moussant Cleanser, $27.99, is a good option.

Image: Chemist Warehouse, La Roche Posay, Priceline 


Also, don't go too crazy on the active ingredient front, because you can end up doing more harm to your skin than good. 

Remember, acne is an inflammatory skin condition so you want to incorporate soothing and anti-inflammatory products into your routine.

"If you’re struggling with acne, use gentle ingredients only and try to reduce inflammation, as harsh drying ingredients combined with mask wearing will worsen the problem."

Look for products with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as niacinamide, or green tea.

Some good options are serums like Propaira Skin Defence Serum, $34.95 or The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $9.90. La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo Anti-Acne Moisturiser, $31.95 is another goodie, because it combines niacinamide with gentle ingredients to help clear blocked pores.

Image: Propaira, Look Fantastic, La Roche Posay. 

2. Dry, flaky skin.

Is anyone else just a walking flake of a human? 'Cause SAME.

Pls send help. 


Turns out it's a mixture of the cooler weather, indoor heating and us... not leaving the house.

"As well as heating and cooling, the lower humidity in winter has a number of effects on the skin. On the whole, the skin becomes drier and more prone to irritation in cold weather," explains Dr McDonald.

"As our skin is responsible for temperature regulation, as it gets colder, the blood vessels in the skin constrict. This reduces heat loss and also results in a tightening of pores with decreased oil production in the skin, leaving it drier."

What's more, Dr McDonald said a combination of wind and indoor heating results in an increase in water loss through the skin, leaving it dry, scaly and prone to irritation.

Sad face.

So, what do we do?

"Dry skin should be combatted by avoiding soaps and using a high-quality moisturiser designed for very dry skin," said Dr McDonald.

"Look for moisturisers containing ceramides, as they act to replace the most important fatty molecule in the skin barrier, ultimately improving the moisture content and barrier properties of the skin."

QV Intensive With Ceramides, $26.99, CeraVe Moisturising Cream, $14.99 and Dermaveen Sensitive Relief Calmexa Moisturiser with Ceramides, $13.19 are all great options.

Image: Priceline, Chemist Warehouse, QV. 


3. Irritated, rashy skin.

Hands up if your skin has just decided to flare-up in random little rashes? Coolcoolcool. It's not just you, though - apparently a lot of other people are in the same boat.

"I'm currently seeing a lot off flare-ups of pre-existing conditions like rosacea, eczema and perioral dermatitis," said Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology.

"I had someone in the other day in her early 50s who I saw maybe three years ago for rosacea, and I started her on the appropriate skincare and after a couple of months her skin cleared up. That was until the pandemic started again and her rosacea flared up."

Dr Armour said any inflammatory skin condition tends to flare with stress, so if you have a background of eczema or psoriasis, you're more likely to experience changes in your skin over lockdown.

"I'm also seeing quite a lot of patients with perioral dermatitis in my clinic right now. Along with other contributors such as stress, I think it is a time when people are putting lots and lots of new things on their faces and every now overdoing it. Most people get away with it, but sometimes it's just a tipping point."

If your skin is flaring up, it's time to go back to basics and pare everything back. Make sure the products you're using are free from irritants such as methylisothiazolinone (MI & MCI) and contain anti-inflammatory ingredients like niacinamide and resveratrol.

Instead of a foaming cleaner, opt for a gentle, creamy formula (like the ones we mentioned above) and avoid things like exfoliants and toners.

Of course, if your skin condition is persistent, it's best to see a dermatologist (a lot of dermatologists and skin experts are offering virtual appointments at the mo).

4. Rough, bumpy skin.

If you're noticing little red bumps pop up on your face or the back of your arms that won't go away, you could be dealing with something known as ‘chicken skin’. Cute! These aren't pimples - so don't try to squeeze them! 

"Rough dry and bumpy skin on the face or arms may be caused by a condition called keratosis pilaris," said Dr McDonald. 

"This is a very common genetic condition which causes small red rough bumps on the skin. It most commonly affects the backs of the upper arms but sometimes the thighs and face as well."


Sound familiar? Don't worry, it's super common! 

Dr McDonald said it's a condition that affects around three quarters of children, and approximately 40 per cent of people continue to have significant KP through their adult life. 

While these little bumps are often mistaken for pimples and acne, they're actually a build-up of keratin (a hair protein) that clogs up the opening of your pore.

There’s no exact cure for it (annoying, we know), however sometimes you’ll find KP just goes away on its own.

If it doesn't go away, there are some different things you can do to help ease the symptoms.

"KP can be managed with moisturisers containing keratolytic ingredients such as salicylic acid or lactic acid to keep the skin smooth," suggests Dr McDonald.

We recommend products such as Paula's Choice Skin Revealing Body Lotion 10% AHA, $43, Mecca Cosmetica Mecca Athletica Skin Perfecting Body Wash, $38 or Lanate Face & Body Cream, $26.49.

Image: Paula's Choice, Mecca Cosmetica, Lanate. 

"Most people see it improve though our adulthood, but in some people, it comes and goes. During times of stress we see people tend to pick at their dry skin, worsening the inflammation and appearance of the rash."

So, mitts off!

What kind of skin concerns are you noticing during lockdown? Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Mamamia/Getty