What is the impact of pollution on your health and your skin?

The effects of air pollution on health are obvious in big cities, such as London and New York, as well as in more polluted Asian cities. Indeed, the detrimental effects of air pollution are widespread. But do we know the effects on the skin?

What is pollution?

This article focuses on air pollution which is the one that principally affects your skin. Air pollution occurs when the air quality is altered by the presence of chemical, biological or physical pollutants. These pollutants may cause diseases, allergies or death in humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops and may damage the natural environment.

When we talk about air pollution, it’s important to distinguish two families:

Primary pollutants which are injected into the atmosphere directly by the human activities (factories,cars,etc…). Examples include sulphur dioxide (SO2), carbon monoxide (CO). We are thus the main source of primary pollutants

Secondary pollutants which are formed in the atmosphere through chemical and photochemical reactions from primary pollutants. Examples include ozone and sulfuric acid (H2SO4).

What are the effects of pollution on your health?

Without getting into detail, it’s important to underline that pollution is one of the leading global risk factors for disease. According to a research presented at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “air pollution kills more than 200,000 in Europe and nearly 80,000 in the U.S. each year”.

What are the consequences for your skin?

Today, many health professionals agree that air pollution has harmful effects for the skin. Indeed, these pollutants can cause an oxidative stress in skin cells due to free-radicals. Free-radicals are molecules created when the skin reacts after being in contact with pollutant particles present in the air.

Thus, these free-radicals disrupt the cutaneous barrier, its functions and its structure. Every interaction between your skin and these pollutants can result in inflammation, eczema, dermatitis and allergic reaction.

The effects are visible. Indeed, your skin may suffer from

  • mild dehydration
  • dryness
  • dull complexion
  • premature wrinkles

Don’t worry, it’s possible to protect your skin to avoid these harmful effects. You want to learn how? Then read our article which explains how to protect your skin from pollution by clicking here.


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