Acne mechanica is a form of acne that arises from repetitive physical disruption to the skin barrier. It may occur in any individual, although teenagers and young adults who suffer from acne vulgaris are more prone to its development. Repetitive trauma related to tight clothing, athletic gear such as headgear or shoulder pads, musical instruments, and long-distance driving can precipitate the condition. Athletes are considered at higher risk due to the frequent use of helmets, chin straps, shoulder pads, collars, tight clothing, golf bags, etc.
In 2020, higher rates of acne mechanica were reported due to the habitual use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, colloquially known as "maskne." A change in the facial microbiome, increased local temperature with subsequent increase in sweating, and friction are all thought to be important in its pathogenesis.
Acne mechanica presents similarly to acne vulgaris. Acneiform papules and pustules may eventuate into nodules or cysts. Comedones may also be seen.