Air pollution refers to any substance introduced into the atmosphere and has damaging effects on living things and their environment. Increased air pollution results to adverse effects on the human skin, which plays a role of biologically protecting the body against physical and chemical pollutants.
Continuous exposure of your skin to pollutants like dirt and dust, free radicals, ultraviolet radiation and cigarette smoking, may lead to skin diseases. These diseases include dermatitis, premature aging of skin and disturbance of the skin barrier function.
Air Pollution Effects On Your Skin
Air pollution can cause different effects on the skin and continuous exposure is making human skin worse. Here are the worst effect air pollution can cause to your skin:
1. Destruction Of Skin Blood Vessels
Cigarette smoke contains a lot of chemical substances that may cause alarming effects on the skin, and this is because cigarette smoke contains large amounts of oxygen radicals and carcinogen. Cigarette smoke accelerates the skin aging processes, delayed wound healing and skin disorders such as psoriasis. Cigarette smoke affects both smokers and non-smokers.
Continuous inhaling of smoke causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels, reducing the supply of blood to the skin thus causing changes in skin elasticity and collagen loss. In addition to this, smoke reduces levels of vitamin A and moisture of the skin. Cigarette smoke is also known to aid in the development of leg ulcers and also foot wounds.
Chemical substances from smoke lead to degeneration of the skin’s connective tissues. According to Freiman et al. Combination of sun and cigarette, smoke leads to adverse skin conditions like aging.
2. Destruction Of Vitamin E
High concentrations of ozone lead to depletion of the amounts of vitamin E in the outermost layer of the epidermis. Ozone exists in the atmosphere, and its formation involves the interaction of sunlight and hydrocarbons and also by-products of certain human activities. The presence of other air pollutants triggers its effects hence causing stress effects on the skin.
According to most research done, ozone induces damage in the epidermis. This damage causes reduction vitamin E levels. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that reduction in its levels affects the biological barrier role of the skin. Degradation of this vitamin weakens this barrier, increasing the formation of chemicals that cause inflammation of underlying skin layers. Vitamin E is essential in reducing toxins from the body.
3. Premature Aging Of The Skin
For the skin to age normally, its barrier function should remain unaffected by air pollutants. Cells producing elastin and collagen should also remain intact. Ultraviolet radiations play a greater role in destroying the skin.
Destruction of the ozone layer by chlorofluorocarbons increases levels of ultraviolet radiations. These radiations decrease the production of collagen and elastin leading skin losing elasticity, sagging and formation of wrinkles. Ultraviolet radiations also damage melanin-producing cells causing hyperpigmentation on the skin causing dark spots thus premature aging.
4. Causes Other Skin Conditions
Skin conditions caused by air pollution include acne, dermatitis, skin cancer and chemical depigmentation. The accumulation of particulate matter in the epidermis causes acne infections. These toxins are lodged in the skin pores and clog them. As a result, the skin is unable to eliminate dead skin cells hence the development of acne infections.
Skin cancer for a long period now is becoming a menace to the human being, and this is because of the depletion of the ozone layer. After the destruction of the ozone layer, ultraviolet radiations that are reaching the earth, become very extreme. As a result, these radiations deeply penetrate into the epidermal layers and the dermal fibroblasts.
The continuous exposure of layers to ultraviolet radiations, they become destroyed and as a result skin cancer develop. There are three types of cancer that are basal cell cancer, melanoma skin cancer and squamous cell cancer. A continuous exposure of the skin to ultraviolet radiations causes a greater percentage of these skin cancers.
Other skin conditions caused by air pollution are damage of blood vessels, eczema and skin inflammations. Skin inflammations are caused by the emission of volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere resulting in the formation of photo chemicals. These chemicals cause an increase in cytokines hence development of these conditions.
Major air pollutants are a menace to the health our skin, and this is due to the wide range of effects they have on the skin. Despite the fact that nothing much has been done to combat air pollution, it is important to try and reduce causes of the air pollutants.
To counter air pollution, it is important first identify the root causes of the problem then employ the correct measures to prevent them. For individuals already affected by skin conditions caused by air, consider visiting a dermatologist for a medical checkup.
Precautions can also be taken to prevent further damage. Such precautions include using protective moisturizer and most important taking adequate amounts of water. Eating a balanced diet can also help repair and maintain skin’s barrier. Consider protecting your skin simply because it is the largest body organ, and it forms a biological barrier to fight pathogens.
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This is a guest post written by Adonia Dennis (@adoniadennis), by profession a Health, Beauty and Skin Care adviser. If you enjoyed this article about the effects of air pollution on your skin, please share it with your social friends. Stay fit!