Air pollution has been linked to numerous health conditions such as respiratory disease, pre-term birth and cardiovascular disease, but prolonged exposure to high levels of pollutants can also cause skin damage.
Natural and man-made pollutants can be found in both indoor and outdoor air. Gases, tobacco smoke, ozone and nano particles produced by burning fossil fuel are the major causes of outdoor air pollution.
Indoor air pollution comes from gases, harsh cleaning chemicals, building materials, tobacco smoke and mold as well as cockroaches and other allergens that make their way inside homes and office buildings.
Skin is a safety barrier designed to protect the body from pollutants but,over time, continued air pollution exposure can contribute to premature skin aging, trigger inflammatory or allergic skin conditions and even lead to skin cancer.
Dermatological studies indicate city dwellers and others who endure prolonged exposure to pollutants are at an increased risk for age spots, clogged pores, dull skin, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne Skin changes are even more likely when air pollution is combined with intense sun exposure.
Of course, it is not possible to avoid air pollution and sun exposure completely, but there are ways you can reduce your risk of skin damage. Start by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen year round and avoid sun exposure during the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
If you currently smoke – stop. Boost skin and lung health by avoiding secondhand tobacco smoke, if at all possible. Make sure your home is well ventilated and free of excess dust and allergens and consider purchasing a portable air filtration system. When possible, opt for non-irritating cleaning supplies.
Skin care tips for reducing the effects of environmental pollution:
- Clean your skin twice a day – in the morning and before bed
- Consider using dermatologist-recommended skin care products containing antioxidants
- Use a mild skin exfoliant twice weekly, followed by a pore minimizer
- Seal in moisture and block pore-clogging particles by applying a quality moisturizer in the morning before going outdoors
Preventing skin damage from environmental air pollution is much easier than treating the skin once damage has occurred. Even if you can’t avoid all air pollution, it is possible to reduce some of the negative skin effects associated with these contaminates.