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Study looks at pollution’s adverse effects on skin


The effects of air pollution on the skin may trump the benefits that can be gained through lifestyle choices such as proper diet and regular exercise.

The effects of air pollution on the skin trumps the benefits that can be gained through lifestyle choices such as proper diet and regular exercise.

In a collaborative project, Olay researchers joined with Wei Liu, M.D., head of the dermatology department at the General Hospital of the Air Force, Beijing, to study the relationship between that city’s air quality-among the worst in the world-and the incidence of dermatological skin conditions.

RELATED: Data suggests pollution new target in skin aging

In his part of the overall study, Dr. Liu’s team looked at the relationship between air quality and incidence of dermatological skin conditions among patients in Beijing, using data collected from 2013 to 2014. Nearly 15,000 patients were included in the analysis.

“Our initial study showed a positive correlation between PM2.5 values [particulate matter up to 2.5 micrometers] and the numbers of urticaria outpatients in Beijing,” Dr. Liu tells Dermatology Times. “When the PM2.5 level is above 200μg/m3, the correlation starts to be stronger than in the lower level. Also, there’s a lag effect of PM2.5 on urticarial outpatient number which can last up to 20 days. For us as researchers, this means we could set 200μg/m3 as the reference level in future research to study the impact of PM2.5 in high-level concentrations and the relationship between PM2.5 and other skin diseases.

“Further study is needed, but for dermatologists and their patients, it’s becoming more and more important to acknowledge the influence of air pollution on skin diseases and take this influence into consideration while providing treatment suggestions, such as thorough and gentle cleansing and skin barrier repair.”

On the Olay side of the project, a research team led by Olay Principal Scientist Frauke Neuser, Ph.D., conducted a year-long clinical study involving more than 200 women in Beijing’s least and most polluted districts. The research team measured multiple aspects of skin health and appearance as well as noting participants’ lifestyles and skin-care routines. They found that women who lived in highly polluted areas had significantly worse skin hydration and more compromised skin-barrier function than those living in the less-polluted suburbs. This held true even among women from the high-pollution districts who made better lifestyle choices than those in the less-polluted suburbs.

“While common sense suggests that air pollution would have a negative impact on skin health and appearance, very little published research is currently available,” Dr. Neuser tells Dermatology Times. “Our finding that something as fundamental to skin’s health as hydration and barrier function can be compromised by continued exposure to air pollution is therefore highly significant. Olay is committed to further research in this area, as only a better understanding of the exact biological mechanisms at work will allow us to develop better and more targeted skin care solutions.”

The study results were presented at the recently held 10th Annual Conference of the Chinese Dermatologist Association.

Read more:

Pollution, stress take toll on skin aging

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