Skin Pollution Index: A need today

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Skin Pollution Index: A need today

“Good skin is the best foundation for your makeup”


Nothing can be truer than these words by Holland Roden, an American actress. As soon as we hear the word good skin, the first thing which comes to our mind is the very touch of a baby’s skin. As one grows that smooth texture of the skin is lost as the skin ages.

Nowadays, the normal aging of the skin is accelerated: the reason being Air Pollution. Yes, Air Pollution has not only affected the climate, environment, and health but also the largest organ of your body ‘the skin’. Let’s look at some of the effects of Air Pollution on our skin.


Fun fact: Skin is our largest organ—adults carry some 8 pounds (3.6 kilograms) and 22 square feet (2 square meters) of it.

Air Pollutants exist in solid, liquid and gaseous form. They can be easily absorbed by our body through skin via the subcutaneous cells, hair follicles or sweat glands. Prolonged and repetitive exposure to these environmental stressors exceeds the skin’s normal defense potential. This disturbance in the skin barrier functioning causes various Skin Diseases.

Skin Sensitization: Pollutants from the air causes the skin to become dry and causes rupture. This, in turn, causes your skin to become sensitive.


Various air pollutants such as ultraviolet radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, oxides, particulate matter, ozone and cigarette smoke affect the skin as it is the outermost barrier. Air pollutants damage the skin by inducing oxidative stress.

Tip: Using essential oil treatments can help soothe the skin.

Premature Ageing: Excessive contact of Air Pollution can cause wrinkles in the skin. Which is the main reason for Premature Aging and also cause fine line with dark circles. It has been noted that Particulate Matters from Vehicular Emissions and Soot was associated with 20% more pigment spots on the forehead and cheek.

Fig. 1 Intrinsic Aging in 63 year old woman
Fig. 1 Intrinsic Aging in 63 year old woman
Fig. 2 Extrinsic Aging in 40 year old woman
Fig. 2 Extrinsic Aging in 40 year old woman

(Citation: Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology)


Skin Diseases: All of us are aware of the effects of UV on our skin and use sunscreens to protect our skin. UV can change skin colour, cause dull skin and also excessive exposure can cause Melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, these cancers arise when unrepaired DNA damage the skin cells (usually caused by ultraviolet radiation from solar or solarium) causes mutations (genetic defects) that cause skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumors which then results in Skin Cancer.  The volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, and particulates present in Air Pollution cause premature aging and an increase in the incidence of psoriasis, acne and skin cancers.

Toxic products, inadequate ventilation, high temperature, and humidity are just some of the main causes of Indoor Air Pollution. Whereas the causes of Outdoor Air Pollution can be summed by the emissions caused by combustion processes of motor vehicles, the combustion of solid fuels and the industrial gases. Other sources of pollution include smoke from brushfire, wind-borne dust and biogenic emissions from vegetation (pollen and mold spores).

Some solutions to reduce the effect of Environmental Stress is acting on a proactive basis to care for and nourish your skin. A healthy and nutrient-rich diet can help to ease the effect on the skin.


Prevention Strategies:

In Korea, indoor air quality improvement program was conducted in nine kindergarten classes, following which mean PM10 levels decreased significantly from 182.7 to 73.4 µg/m3. As a result of the program, the institutions and hospitals saw less number of visits per month and the prevalence as well as severity of atopic dermatitis in children decreased significantly. This shows the benefit of improvement of air quality.

The question remains is all the remedy given is not the final solution to the problem. In short, these are just temporary remedies. Given the increasing levels of Air Pollution and its detrimental effects on the skin, it is the need of the hour to use strategies to decrease Air Pollution.

Let us all start taking small steps to change the air quality index from poor to good. Remember the term air quality index? Now you can check the skin pollution index too. Just search your location on


“Healthy skin is a reflection of overall wellness.”- Dr. Murad