How to protect yourself from smoke and pollution? Large fires release a whole range of harmful substances into the air. Whether forests, landfills or settlements are on fire, the air gets contaminated, in different percentage, with gases, large or fine and tiny particles of smoke, which particularly pose a major threat to health. Their penetration through the skin and retention are very high.
Even thought we can say that the lungs are the most vulnerable organ, the skin is at risk immediately after them.
There is a whole range of air pollutants in smoke from fires: toxic gases, heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, ozone, causing acute and chronic damage to the skin.
Acute damage is reflected in itching and redness, dryness and light irritation of the skin. Even when the fire is miles away from us, our skin absorbs tiny particles from the air and after two to seven days may develop an allergic reaction.
Tiny smoke particles clog pores, leading to exacerbation of acne, the appearance of blackheads, increased sebum production on the face. Rosacea and perioral dermatitis will certainly worsen with occlusion of the skin, and psoriasis with increased dryness and irritation.
Chronic damage is due to exposure to heavy metals and other carcinogens from the air. Their effect on collagen is such that they accelerate the fragmentation of collagen molecules, making it weak and crackling. Oxidative stress accelerates skin aging, creates a suitable environment for the development of skin cancer and causes hyperpigmentation.
How to protect yourself from smoke and pollution
The basic protection is staying indoor, especially if we have air purifiers. When we are not able to spend days in isolation from smoke, it is desirable to wear long sleeves. Face masks have a greater benefit in protection from smoke particles, than they can irritate the skin on long term.
We must not forget about creams with a sun protection factor. The sunrays are less visible when the air is clouded by smoke, but according to some studies the effect of UVA rays is higher. The sunscreen should have a higher concentration of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Upon returning from work or from a walk, it is necessary to change the wardrobe worn outside. The wardrobe retains all tiny particles of burnt substances and they have prolonged effect on the skin. Shower and mild washing foams are the next step. Applying a cream with antioxidants can somewhat neutralize the damage caused by air pollutants from smoke. These are primarily serums with Vitamin C, niacinamide as an antioxidant and a substance that reduces pigmentation. Hyaluronic acid, linoleic acid, astaxanthin, resveratrol are also recommended.
The skin appearance and health are largely dependent on our lifestyle and what we introduce into our body. When exposed to smoke and pollution, it is necessary to increase the intake of antioxidants. Oxidative stress and the release of free radicals occur both on the skin and inside our body. Vitamins and other fruit and vegetable products are the front line of the fight against free radicals.
Abundant hydration of the organism is important to accelerate the excretion of harmful substances through the kidneys.
Enough sleep increases levels of growth hormone and melatonin that are crucial for our immune system.