Don’t Let COVID-19 Give You “Mask-ne” & Panic Pimples


Acceptably bad at-home haircuts and hair dyes are a regretful part of the new norm.  But “mask-ne”, the acne you get from wearing a dirty face mask, and stay-at-home stress-induced panic pimples do not have to be.

Wash Your Face Mask

Noticing some bumps around your chin line? Could the culprit be none other than your filthy face mask?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends tossing that face guard in with your laundry or hand washing it to vacate the viruses and germs that call the shield between you and the world “home”.

Beyond that, you should use a clean or cleaned face mask daily. What is the point of washing your face in the morning if you are going to slap a dirty face mask on it?

Because every face is unique, you may need to change your face mask throughout the day a few times, not just once. For example, if you working in gritty conditions like a kitchen or interact with several people during the course of the day, your mask may get dirtier quicker, which requires a sooner swap for a clean face mask.

While you are at it, give your cell phone a good daily cleaning as well before you slam it up against your face.


Control Your Stress Levels with Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI)

Staying at home, and social distancing can increase stress levels and anxiety, both of which can provoke a case of panic pimples. But there is a free, tested, and in-home therapy that you can use to keep your stress-induced acne outbreaks under control. It is a modified version of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

In a double-blind study, 14 patients using Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) therapy for eight weeks witnessed improvement in their acne condition.

What is Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) therapy? Well, first off, Wikipedia says it didn’t come from Pythagoras, that famous triangle-math guy. They are Golden Verses hailing from the ever-popular author Anonymous and were penned (or stoned) around the 5th Century AD. These 71 lines of verse provide tenants for prudent living and cover topics ranging from social interactions to diet.

You could view Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) as a reframing type of cognitive behavior therapy. (Read more about cognitive behavior therapy here. I use CBT as part of my arsenal to keep my stress levels in check). Here is a breakdown of the Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) therapy in action as per a 2016 Psychology article.


Twice a day, in the morning and at night, in a quiet place, do the following:

At Night

  1. Recall every part of your day in the third person voice, i.e. “She woke up at 5 am and she then left her bed…She at breakfast…). Let it roll like your favorite NetFlix or Masterpiece Theater series.

To make this part recall friendly, you can group your daily events by activities like, diet (what and where you ate), activities (what you did, work/play), sleep, and personal interactions (who you spoke with, thought about).


  1. Recall the events in each category that seem most important to you or stick out the most. This is usually easy to pinpoint. It includes those thoughts that bug you at the end of the day about what you did and how you got along with others. Remember the old days when you got graded on “Conduct” in elementary school? (Maybe some of you don’t, but it was a thing some decades ago.) That “Conduct” checkbox still matters big time in adulthood.

3. The last nightly step is critically thinking about your major events in step two by asking the following questions as gathered from the Psychology article:

  1. “Is what I have done wrong?”
  2. “Is what I have done right?”
  3. “What have I omitted that I ought to have done?”

While pursuing these questions, your goal is to act as an objective judge, who is not partial to any third party, popular culture or lobbyist ambitions of straight hate’ in on you.  This is your “cognitive process” of constructive, not destructive criticism. Back to those “Conduct” cards, when properly done, they are a bastion of constructive criticism.

Celebrate the positive things you did and “reprimand” or give a lessons-learned talk to yourself about your negative behaviors.

With this information about your current positive and negative behaviors, set your behavioral goals for the next day.


The Next Morning

Recall the overall results of the previous night’s rundown of your positive and negative behaviors and your goals for today. Ultimately, you should be doing more of the things you want and less of the things you don’t.

How is that supposed to deliver clear skin you ask? Less stress means less oily skin, less of a weakened immune system, and less nervous face touching- all of which add up to a healthier and less zit-city face. Who doesn’t want that?

Don’t write off this Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) therapy as hogwash. It has also proven to be effective in helping people lose weight and lower stress levels in breast cancer patients.


More Acne Mind Control Tips

If you love the idea of behavioral cognitive therapy for gliding your path to clearer skin, check out these similar tips: More mind-warping tactics for whipping the bumps right off your face.

Topics include:





Sum It Up

Stay at home does not mean stay stressed. Give acne a quick one-two punch during this COVID-19 pandemic.  One, wash your face mask and two, decompress with Pythagorean Self‐Awareness Intervention (PSAI) therapy.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. May 22, 2020. How to Wash Cloth Face Coverings.

Charalampopoulou, Maria, Bacopoulou F, Konstantinos N, et al. (2020). The effects of Pythagorean Self-Awareness Intervention on breast cancer patients undergoing adjuvant therapy: A pilot randomized controlled trial, The Breast, Volume 49, 2020, Pages 210-218, ISSN 0960-9776.

Chatzikonstantinou, F., Miskedaki, A., Antoniou, C., Chatzikonstantinou, M., Chrousos, G. and Darviri, C. (2019), A novel cognitive stress management technique for acne vulgaris: a short report of a pilot experimental study. Int J Dermatol, 58: 218-220.

Darviri, C., Zavitsanou, C., Delikou, A., Giotaki, A., Artemiadis, A., Anagnostouli, M., Varvogli, L., Vasdekis, S., & Chrousos, G. P. (2016). Pythagorean Self-Awareness Serves Successfully as a New Cognitive Behavioral-Based Technique in Multiple Sclerosis Physical and Psychosocial Well-Being and Quality of Life. Psychology, 7, 572-583. How to Change Negative Thinking with Cognitive Restructuring. Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Rebecca Joy Stanborough, MFA on February 4, 2020.

Simos, DS, Kokkinos, A, Tentolouris, N, et al. Pythagorean self‐awareness intervention: A novel cognitive stress management technique for body weight control. Eur J Clin Invest. 2019; 49:e13164.

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