CONTRIBUTED BY Varsha Nautiyal

As boys, didn’t we all write those essays on pollution? Alas, you never thought about the effects of pollution on your own skin! The darkening, sulking skin that you may have noticed is often due to the pollution. Indian men have dauntlessly accepted the “desperado” status becoming more metro-sexual so as to say, particular about their grooming and appearance and are even spending heftily on dermatologists and cosmetic products. Now even the rugged men sporting a masculine beard and a tough look, want their skin to be healthy and proactive.

Yet pollution and dirt in India continue to wreck havoc on your skin. Statistics say that 10 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in India including Delhi, Patna and Gwalior. That’s the level of pollution you are exposed to every single day. Despite helmets and car shields, pollution and dirt make way into your lives. Although your skin acts as a biological shield against the air pollutants, the repetitive exposure to such harmful constituents succeeds in harming the outermost protective layer of our body.

 

Air pollutants go deeper
The particles of air pollutants are much smaller than the pores of your skin. They won’t just relax on the surface, they dig deep into the epidermis causing infections. Chances are high if you work in a metropolitan city.

Ultra violet rays lead to ageing, skin cancer
With the dust and pollution particles, ultraviolet rays are yet another concern towards protecting your skin. People sensitive to these often become victims of sunburn, pigment darkening (often called tanning) and premature aging of the skin. The chronic consequences of UV rays can be as serious as skin cancer and suppression of immune system.

Another culprit in the list is Particulate Matter (PM) consisting of complex and varying size and composition particles suspended in the air. Factories, power plants, refuse incinerators, automobile, construction activities,  fires and natural windblown dust are some of the main contributors of PM. Studies show a significant correlation between PM pollution exposure (traffic particle and soot) and extrinsic skin aging signs, such as pigment spots on face, nasolabial folds, and wrinkles.

Pollutants lead to eruptions
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) are the most common organic pollutants in India. Its main source is burning of all organic matter which includes the use of fuel, wood and even lighting of cigarettes. PAHs can lead to acneiform eruptions and acneiform skin lesions such as comedones and cysts mainly on the face (outer sides of the eye and behind the ears) and neck.

Cigarette smoke leads to discoloration
Smoking cigarettes or its passive inhalation contribute in deteriorating of your skin. Smoke contains several chemical compounds which include a number of oxygen radical forming substances. Premature skin aging, peri-orbital wrinkling, and orange-purple skin discoloration are the outcomes of smoldering that tube of tobacco. It is also implicated in allergic skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and eczema.

The skin-care routine to fight pollution:

Wash face thrice
It may seem like it’s not possible to wash face while you work in an office cubicle, it’s simpler than you imagine. The morning rinse is already counted, make sure you sprinkle water on your face during office lunch hours and then immediately after coming back from the office.

Buy a cleaning scrub
Cleaning scrub is an excellent exfoliant that rubs off dead skin cells and purifies pores. We recommend it once a day.

Sunscreen
Yeah boys you gotta do that too now. Get your hands on a male sunscreen with at least 15 SPF to protect your skin from UV rays.

Include green tea, Vitamin C
You also ought to fight pollution from the inside by consuming as much Vitamin C as you can. You may consider taking supplements if not natural foods rich in Vitamin C. Switch to green tea that is full of antioxidants that make a coat against pollution in your body.

The major effects of air pollutants on the human skin are skin aging, atopic dermatitis, pigment darkening, wrinkling, and acne. Interestingly, the bank accounts of cosmetic companies and dermatologists are overflowing with money. A lot of research is commenting that air pollution should be ranked high on our priority in terms of the damage it causes on our health and appearance. Meanwhile, you ought to start protecting your skin before it’s too late.

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