Man with the Iron mask

In my story I have a character who is of high nobility who is forced to wear an iron mask covering his whole head to hide (unspecified) birth deformities. Other than eyeholes he is entirely covered.

What I know

A mostly sealed system like the inside of the mask would encourage mold growth and increase chances of infection from even minor wounds.


It is a helmet sculpted in the image of the wearer's head. It is allowed to be removed privately for eating and other activities and is cleaned at periodic intervals. There are holes around the mouth to allow for breathing.

The palace guard does the work of keeping the mask on.

The palace is a low light environment to keep from affecting the master's sensitive eyes.

His nation is temperate in climate like Germany or France.

The birth defects he suffers from are a fictional variant of albinism with similar symptoms and possibly others.

He is clean shaven.

The mask is metallic to raise the wearer's spirits with the thoughts of knights in their armor. the mask could be cleaned every few weeks or so.

The Question

Assuming the mask is not changed often and that this character dwells mostly inside a palace in a low light environment, what effect would this have on his face?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you allowing removal for things like sleeping and other times when the character is alone (Or with known trusted individuals)? $\endgroup$ – Andon Apr 1 '19 at 0:42
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    $\begingroup$ Only eyeholes? How does he breathe? Eat? Drink? Hear? You talk about his face but your question specifically says "covering his whole head." His lifetime was under a year. He's dead now. $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Apr 1 '19 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ Please clarify a couple things: 1) what do you mean by "mask"? (Like, a fully enclosed helmet or a Phantom of the Opera kind of deal.) 2) what do you mean by "mostly sealed" (Is this some kind of diving helmet thing?) 3) How tightly does the "mask" fit to the skin? $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 1 '19 at 11:54
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    $\begingroup$ If wearing a mask, then why the low-light environment? Why an iron mask instead of, say, delicate porcelain or simple paper? Who is doing the forcing and enforcing inside, ostensibly, this masked-person's palace which should be protected by their personal goons? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Apr 1 '19 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ I suspect the lifetime would be quite brief. They'd probably develop a non-healing ulcer under the mask in few weeks to months, and once that gets infected its only a matter of time before they die of sepsis. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Apr 1 '19 at 13:32