How Environmental Pollution Affects Your Skin – and How to Protect It

The world is full of pollutants, ranging from natural gasses to artificial materials. Although we realize the impact that pollutants can have on overall health, we may not realize the effect that pollutants can have on the skin. Environmental pollutants may be responsible for a variety of skin concerns, both cosmetic and medical, so it’s important to understand how to protect yourself and when to see your board-certified dermatologist at Reserve Dermatology & Aesthetics.

What is Air Pollution?

Air pollution can be linked to serious health conditions like respiratory disease, pre-term birth, and cardiovascular diseases. Unfortunately, repeated exposure causes significant damage to the skin and can even lead to skin cancer. Pollution exposure can contribute to premature skin aging, allergic skin conditions, and a variety of other concerns. People living in urban areas typically have prolonged exposure to dangerous pollutants, making them especially vulnerable to skin damage. It’s not just air pollution that affects our skin health, as sun exposure can dramatically worsen the effects of pollutants.

How Do Pollutants Affect the Skin?

Pollutants like UV rays can cause changes in the skin at a cellular level. Pollutants can create free radicals, which are unstable molecules that roam the body and cause oxidative stress, a process which ages cells more quickly. The combined result of this process is that soft tissues like collagen begin to break down more quickly, causing the skin to lose its healthy and youthful quality. Pollutants can also contribute to congestion and make the skin more likely to break out or experience chronic conditions.

How to Protect Your Skin from Environmental Pollutants

Fortunately, there are simple things that we can do daily to protect our skin from environmental factors. Start by wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen year-round and avoiding sun exposure during the hours of 10 am and 3 pm when it’s most intense. If you smoke, stopping is essential for reducing skin and lung damage.

Investing in a quality air filter ensures your home is well-ventilated and free from allergens and harsh, pore-clogging chemicals. To protect your skin, cleanse twice daily and use mild skin exfoliants a couple of times a week. Finish with a quality moisturizer that seals in moisture and helps block out the effects of the pollutants.

Skin protection from air pollution is possible but not always easy. However, if we take the necessary steps to reduce our exposure to toxins, we can save our skin from premature aging and other damaging effects.

Schedule an Appointment

Meeting with a board-certified dermatologist is the best way to learn more about keeping your skin healthy and free of damaging environmental affects. To schedule an appointment, contact our Glenview, IL office by calling or filling out our online form.

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