With the arrival of colder weather, it is important to remember that UV exposure is not the only danger your skin faces. Outdoor and indoor air pollution is a constant threat and can cause a variety of issues, including premature aging, dryness, skin rashes, eczema and acne. It is helpful to know how air pollution can harm your skin to better understand ways to prevent this damage.
Recent research is causing doctors and scientists to agree that next to UV rays, pollution is one of the main sources of skin damage. As our outer layer, skin is our first defense against the increasing free radicals in the atmosphere. During repeated exposure to air pollution, proteins and lipids in our skin barrier are broken down by the gases in the atmosphere. This can lead to the breakdown of collagen, and over time, will lead to serious damage.
Outdoor pollution comes in many forms, including ground-level ozone, which is a gas created from the toxic emissions from cars and factories combined with sunlight. Dirt particles from smog and gas can also affect the surface of the skin, increasing inflammation and causing premature aging.
Indoor air pollution can be caused by a number of things as well, and while not entirely unavoidable, we should be aware of them. Particles from pressed wood products and foam insulation can cause dry skin, irritation and rashes. Second-hand cigarette smoke can also negatively affect skin condition.
While densely populated urban areas and areas with high levels of manufacturing are at a greater risk for air pollution damage, poor air quality can affect all types of communities. Therefore, it is smart to take preventative steps to reduce the damage caused by pollution. Large beauty and pharmaceutical companies such as Estee Lauder are taking note of this and are also offering more products to counteract this damage.
· Antioxidants: These helpful substances that can fight free radicals can be applied topically (in a serum) or eaten in foods like brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, leafy greens and blueberries.
· Plan ahead: If poor air quality conditions are forecast, try to wear long sleeved shirts.
· Clean regularly: Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and vacuum regularly to clean dust particles. Keep air filters clean.
· Stay hydrated: Moisturizers will help keep your skin strong against the pollution particles.
· Healthy routines: Deep clean your face daily to remove the tiny particulate matter that can collect in your pores.
Over time, pollution can be harmful to our skin, and it’s important to prevent as well as treat that damage. Our team at Greenville Dermatology can recommend products or treatments depending on the severity of the affects to your skin. Call Greenville Dermatology at 864-242-5872 to schedule an appointment today.