The World Health Organization calls air pollution a “public health emergency.” Outdoor air pollution is the cause of 3 million deaths a year. Indoor air pollution caused 6 million deaths in 2016.
Air Pollution Can Damage Skin
Even if you’re not living in a heavily polluted area, are you aware that air pollution can accelerate skin aging? Air pollution can inflame skin and worsen skin diseases like eczema, acne and psoriasis. It can also increase the risk of skin cancer.
Recent studies have been highlighting the damage. In Germany and China, outdoor air pollution (caused by traffic) has also been shown to cause the formation of dark spots on the skin, with Asian women over 50 affected the most. A recent study in China found that skin aging is caused by smoking or living with smokers, indoor air pollution from cooking fuels and outdoor pollution from heavy traffic roads.
Why Does Pollution Damage Skin?
Tiny particles of acid, smoke, and soot are released into the atmosphere from fires, construction sites, vehicles and power plants. When the pollution meets your skin, it doesn’t just sit on the surface. These particles’ tiny size allows them to sink into the deeper layers of the epidermis. This not only dries your skin and causes inflammation, but it also leads to a loss of firmness and elasticity. Moreover, free radicals are produced by your white blood cells trying to fight off the pollution particles. As your cells create more free radicals, your skin becomes stressed and inflamed.
Protecting Yourself from Air Pollution
Doctors recommend counteracting these effects by wearing sunscreen and a hat. You may want to use an umbrella, even during the daytime. Even when it’s not sunny, wear sunscreen, applying one with at least 15 SPF every day. Use a simple skin cleanser morning and nightly. Only people with very oily skin need to use anything more than a mild cleanser.
Many physicians also advise the use of an antioxidant to help lessen stress from free radicals. You can also take antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C and E. Several skin products advertise as anti-pollution products, but studies have not proved their effectiveness yet.