The effects of environmental pollution on your skin
Air pollution has become a great threat to global health both for humans and for animals or plants.
Reports published by the WHO indicate that 9 out of 10 people are exposed to pollutant levels that exceed recommended limits. Likewise, both research institutes and international organizations affirm that this exposure leads to a wide range of diseases that cause the death of several million people each year.
In addition, it is important to point out that air pollution not only includes outdoor places, but also indoor ones.
We have in front of us a new exogenous factor capable of significantly alter the balance of our skin.
If you continue reading this article, you will discover:
- Which elements worsen your skin health.
- How air pollution affects people with atopic dermatitis.
- How you can keep your skin healthier.
Pollution elements that can alter your skin
As you well know, the air can contain harmful substances called “pollutants”, which can be found both indoors (home, office, classroom, shop…) and outdoors.
When we are on the street, the main pollutants present there come from the combustion of vehicles, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Likewise, ozone, suspended particles and volatile organic compounds (VOC), a product of combustion and present in solvents, paints, adhesives, plastics, and flavorings, are also outdoor pollutants.
Although there are many pollutants, we believe we are aware of their effects. However, what doesn’t seem so clear is that at home the situation does not improve.
In addition to the pollutants that can enter through the windows in traffic areas, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also generated from fresh paintings, works, new furniture, sprays… Of course, in the rooms where people are smoking, tobacco smoke, should be added to that list of VOCs, which contributes to the premature aging of the skin, as we explained in a previous article.
The risk posed by these pollutants to the skin depends on each substance, its concentration, and the exposure time.
According to some experts, pollutants can damage the condition of the skin causing inflammation, itching and dryness.
The association between air pollution and atopic dermatitis
Currently, there is an increase in cases of atopic dermatitis, especially in industrialized countries. The experts could look for explanations in genetic changes, in the improvement of the diagnostic techniques or in the increase of the life expectancy. However, the increase has been too rapid to pinpoint these causes, so it is important to consider the role that pollution plays.
Different studies have been carried out to analyze the role of air pollutionas as an inducing factor and an aggravating factor in atopic dermatitis.
Air pollution as an inducing factor of atopic dermatitis
The studies that proposed air pollution as an inducing factor were carried out from the birth of the children. Here are some of their conclusions:
- Exposure to tobacco smoke and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could increase the risk of developing the disease.
- Do-it-yourself tasks before and after birth could be associated with the development of the disease.
- The risk of developing the disease may be higher in children who live in traffic zones.
Although the studies obtained these results, more research is needed to clarify the complex relationship between air pollution and atopic dermatitis.
Air pollution as an aggravating factor of atopic dermatitis
The most important studies are those in which air pollution was proposed as an aggravating factor.
For this, patients who already suffered from atopic dermatitis were selected and then followed up. In these cases, a main conclusion was drawn: exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could worsen the effects of dermatitis.
One of the hypotheses that would explain this fact is that constant exposure to harmful agents in the air would cause an increase in the activity of the neurosensory system, which gives rise to uncomfortable sensations of itching, stinging or even irritation.
How can you keep your skin healthier?
Due to our lifestyle, it is difficult to avoid the effects of air pollution on our skin. However, you can include in your routine positive factors that compensate, as far as possible, the imbalances of your skin.
At Prospera Biotech we rely on neurodermatological research to develop neurocosmetic products specifically designed for the care of sensitive skin. Do you want to know them?
- Implementar las nuevas directrices de calidad del aire de la OMS puede prevenir millones de muertes prematuras y muchos más casos de enfermedad. Instituo de Salud Global de Barcelona. 2021.
- Air pollution. WHO. 2021.
- La contaminación triplica los eczemas. AEDV. 2014
- Herberth G., et al. Maternal and cord blood miR-223 expression associates with prenatal tobacco smoke exposure and low regulatory T-cell numbers. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 133:543–550.
- Hinz D., et al. Cord blood Tregs with stable FOXP3 expression are influenced by prenatal environment and associated with atopic dermatitis at the age of one year. Allergy. 2021. 67:380–389.
- Wang I.J., et al. GSTM1, GSTP1, prenatal smoke exposure, and atopic dermatitis. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2010. 105:124–129.
- Herbarth O., et al. Association between indoor renovation activities and eczema in early childhood. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2006. 209:241–247.
- Kim J., et al. Symptoms of atopic dermatitis are influenced by outdoor air pollution. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013. 132:495–498.e1.