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  • Writer's pictureJill Stetson

Air Pollutions Effect On Skin Is Real!

The increase of air pollution over the years has major effects on our skin. Not only do we need to protect our skin from ultraviolet rays (UV rays) from the sun, but we also need to protect it from long term exposure to environmental air pollutants. Exposure of the skin to air pollutants is associated with skin aging, inflammatory or allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, or acne. Long term exposure to air pollutants may induce serve interference of normal skin function. Air pollution silently attacks the upper layer of the epidermis which is the barrier layer for protection. The protective ability of the skin is not unlimited, and problems arise when an abnormal exposure to environmental stress exceeds the skin’s normal defensive potential.

Without getting too technical, the major air pollutants are wood burning, auto exhaust fumes, all smoke from combustible material, including cigarette smoke, organic solvents in paints, varnishes, vehicle refinishing products, environmental tobacco smoke, and emissions from industrial facilities.

Here’s some of the impact on skin:

  • Cigarette smoking is associated with deeper eye wrinkles & psoriasis.

  • Among cigarette smokers there is a higher prevalence of acne which can be more severe.

  • Pollutants associated with traffic, car exhaust, contributes to skin aging - pigment spots, nasolabial folds, and wrinkles caused by collagen & elastin loss.

  • Higher prevalence of atopic dermatitis in areas of high air pollution.

  • Increases in atopic dermatitis or eczema.

  • Skin pigmentation or discoloration can be triggered from air pollution.

Another complication is the interaction of pollution with UV radiation. Together they chemically form summer photochemical smog which can lead to inflammatory responses that stimulate atopic dermatitis, eczema, or pigment changes. More reason to limit sun exposure.

We often don’t think about what air pollution is doing to our skin because it is invisible, and effects accumulate over time. However, in area such as ours, where there is pollution, but not at the highest levels, occasional treatments that address the issues of pollution are recommended.

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