Pollution, the enemy of the skin

Between 1976 and 1982, the great painter from Tomás Antonio López painted his famous painting, Madrid from Torresblancas. He always came at the same time to be able to represent the beautiful colors of the twilight falling on the impressive view of the capital from the iconic building. Years later, in 2008, said painting was auctioned at Christie's for 1.78 million euros, making it the most valuable painting by a living artist in our country. Today, unfortunately, we have to add the contamination beret that blurs, most days of the year, the urban landscape.

All of us who regularly run through the streets of the capital know that the city dries out the skin. You come home like you came from the desert and normally it is not enough with the replacement of liquids and electrolytes, it is necessary to get a good moisturizer to avoid ending up with cracked skin on the face and hands.

What is contamination?

Pollution is made up of a set of chemicals, biological materials or particles that remain in suspension in the air we breathe and that can cause harm to health. It may be due to natural causes, such as the Saharan dust particles that tend to affect us quite frequently, or the impact of human activities, such as the burning of vehicle fuels or heating, etc. Carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and suspended particles, Especially those less than 2.5 microns, they are the best known, but there are many other harmful substances derived from human activities.

How does it affect us?

A German study has recently been published analyzing the skin spots of approximately 400 women living in the countryside and in the city. In it it was observed that the appearance of these was much higher in urbanites, all related to pollution. This finding had already been described in other studies carried out with patients from various countries.

Pollution penetrates our body through breathing and, through the blood, it reaches the deepest layers of the skin. It is also deposited in the most superficial layers in the form of microparticles, which clog pores and alter the skin's hydrolipidic protective barrier. The result is that it can produce premature aging, with wrinkles that produce the well-known puppet expression, lax skin on the eyelids and cheeks and the appearance of spots such as those described above.

also can favor the appearance or worsening of inflammatory diseases such as acne, atopic dermatitis or eczema. Psoriasis, although not caused by contamination, has been shown to be worse. In fact, atopic dermatitis and eczema are some of the most frequent diseases in dermatology offices – around 25% of the total – and their frequency is increasing. They are characterized by areas of redness, itching or skin peeling, which can be very bothersome and recurrent. In addition, to the effects of pollution are added those of solar radiation, multiplying its harmful effects.


What can we do to alleviate the effects of pollution on our skin? Cleaning is essential. Wash your face in the morning and at night, even if you don't use makeup. It is important to use moisturizers or cosmetics that act as a barrier and if they contain antioxidants, such as vitamin C, to control free radicals and thus prevent aging, even better.

We must not forget the fundamental principles of a healthy life: make a healthy diet, practice physical exercise and avoid tobacco. Both our skin, which is the largest organ in the body, and our general health will thank us. However, if you have any type of skin problem, do not hesitate to go to your dermatologist.

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