Pollutants in the air may have a bigger impact on our daily lives than we realize. Pollution is more than just the soot, dirt and grime that you visually see but it’s also the things you don’t see, the gases and vapors that you breathe in every day. These invisible pollutants or greenhouse gases have the most visible impact on our skin. We breathe carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and toxic air contaminants such as lead, methane, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, nitrogen trifluoride, and hydrofluoroethers. As these pollutants interact with rain, water and dust in the air they breakdown the protective ozone layer surrounding our planet, allowing the sun’s ultra violet rays an easier access to our skin. This effect causes a breakdown and sometimes irreversible damage to the surface of our skin.

As we inhale these airborne pollutants, they combine with the natural occurring bacteria present within our body in a potentially reactive process. As the pollutants invade and damage, alter or destroy the good bacteria in our body, our immune system balance becomes disrupted. When this happens, our skin as the body’s largest single organ is the first to show the strain. This disruption may result in acne breakouts, skin redness or irritation, ocular occurrences such as you see present in ocular rosacea.

We see this effect most significantly in areas of the world such as China, Asia and India. Their sudden growth and urbanization has resulted in pollution on a scale never seen before. This has also given rise to skin conditions such as rosacea, psoriasis and eczema in a population where they were once considered rare.

The effects of pollution on the skin surface include clogged pores, acne pimples, redness, irritation and itching, dryness, wrinkles and premature aging of the skin, swelling and skin allergies. The effects of the pollutants within our body include diabetes, cancer, heart problems, lung issues and breathing difficulties.

We may not be able to avoid all pollutants but we can work to minimize the effects. Drink plenty of water, eat a healthy alkaline diet, and reduce your outdoor time during times of the higher ozone alerts, especially code orange and code red days. Cleanse your skin twice a day to remove the surface dirt and grime and then apply a protective layer of jojoba oil to help soothe and protect the skin surface.

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