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Posted by Admin, 11th January 2016
I can’t have been the only person that was slightly alarmed at the Time Out London story from last week. Eight days into 2016 and London’s pollution levels are already above the annual limit. For those of us city dwellers, this is definitely not good news for our skin.
As skin is your outermost barrier, it is one of the first and largest targets for air pollution. So, what exactly is air pollution? Air pollutants include the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), volatile organic compounds (VOC), oxides, particulate matter, ozone, and cigarette smoke. Prolonged and repetitive exposure to these agents can have negative effects on the skin.
Scientific studies in both animals and humans have shown that these components of air pollution can contribute to premature skin ageing (wrinkling, pigmentation spots) and worsening of inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. One major mechanism is via the generation of reactive oxygen species that can damage DNA in skin cells.
Short of leaving the city and moving into the countryside, what can you do to limit damage?
For many of us settled in city life, it is worth thinking about taking extra precautionary measures to protect against noxious chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis. We may not be able to control the environmental factors that lead to skin inflammation and ageing, but it is in our hands to try and limit these.
Dr Anjali Mahto is a dermatology consultant at the London North West Hospitals NHS Trust. She works privately at the Cadogan Clinic and Highgate Hospital and is happy to consult on any skin, hair, and nail disorders in adults and children. Anjali has trained in dermatology at some of UK’s leading teaching hospitals including Imperial College Healthcare and the Royal Free Hospital. She is a spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation and expert dermatologist for Vichy Laboratoires UK.