Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, acne affects an estimated 5.6 million people across Canada.
As luck would have it, the majority of acne breakouts occur in highly visible places such as the face, neck and upper back. Acne can persist for decades – well into the 40s and beyond. Even more disturbing, a full 20 percent of newborns experience acne!
But what is perhaps most shocking of all is that science has now confirmed a link between skin breakouts and air pollution.
If you or a loved one is struggling to control skin breakouts and all the traditional remedies have failed to provide relief, it may be time to take treatment a step further – to your indoor air.
The Link Between Air Pollution and Acne
We all want our skin to look and feel clean, clear and healthy. Skin condition can impact not only how happy and healthy we appear, but also how young we look.
But in our continual fight to retain a youthful, vibrant skin glow, it is so easy to forget our skin’s primary role and purpose: to serve as a barrier against toxins, pollutants and harmful agents.
In truth, our skin is all that stands between the surrounding environment and our sensitive vital organs, tissues and systems. As a protector, the skin tries to stop and trap every toxin it encounters to keep it from harming you at a deeper level.
This role leaves your skin particularly prone to eruptions and breakouts, particularly in areas that are almost always exposed to the environment. From sunburns and rashes, windburn and whiteheads, blackheads and cystic acne, you can see how hard your skin works to protect you just by looking at it.
From What Toxins Does Your Skin Protect You?
Most people know about the potentially harmful effects of too much exposure to ultraviolet light. Sunscreen can protect you from UV radiation.
But there are plenty of other airborne toxins you probably don’t think much about.
Volatile organic gaseous compounds, particulate matter such as smoke and smog, formaldehyde and ozone off-gassing from new home furnishings and office equipment, carbon monoxide and oxides from incomplete combustion and other dangers bombard your skin hourly.
As exposure worsens, your skin itself becomes vulnerable to chronic scarring acne, atopic dermatitis (eczema) and skin cancer, among other dangers.
Who is at Highest Risk for Acne Related to Skin Toxicity?
As with many known health hazards, it is the young and elderly, as well as those with compromised immune systems, who are at highest risk for skin issues related to airborne toxins.
Recent research results show that changes to normal skin pigmentation, gene mutation, immune response suppression, psoriasis, lesions and cysts, eczema, premature skin aging and wrinkling, hives and skin cancer are just some of the potential skin health concerns that arise when your skin is continually tasked with protecting you from airborne toxins.
How Does Air Pollution Cause Acne?
If you don’t understand exactly how the skin protects you from toxins, it is hard to visualize how practically invisible airborne pollutants could possibly cause acne and other skin health issues.
This isn’t relevant anymore since smoking is banned inside but the example will help: Imagine for a moment you are sitting in a café. A person at the table next to you lights up a cigarette and takes a puff. This produces a small airborne group of particulate toxins that begin to drift in your direction. As the puff of smoke moves toward you, the tiny particles land on the skin of your face and neck. Each particle that lands blocks an oil pore on your skin’s surface.
Your skin pores have the unenviable but vital job of helping you sweat and producing oil (sebum) to keep your skin moisturized, hydrated, clean and healthy. When a pore is blocked, there is a standoff between sebum and toxin – one can’t get out and the other can’t get in. This leads to an acne breakout.
To Clear Your Skin, Clean Your Indoor Air: 4 Steps to Success
Your skin is equally vulnerable to gaseous pollutants and particulate toxins. Both can trigger an immune response and cause pore blockages and breakouts as well as rashes and, eventually, skin cancer.
Too-dry or too-moist skin can also become a breeding ground for toxic skin conditions as well as other health issues, as the overly dry winter cold and flu season so aptly demonstrates.
We recommend this four-step process to cleaning up your indoor air as a pathway to reducing skin issues.
1. Change your furnace filters regularly
The more regularly you change your furnace filters (every 30 days during high-use periods) the fewer floating toxins will remain at large in your indoor air supply.
2. Schedule an indoor air duct cleaning
Having your air duct system professionally cleaned and sanitized removes 100 percent of trapped particulate and gaseous pollutants along with bacteria and fungi, instantly reducing the burden your skin bears to protect you.
3. Install an ultraviolet air purifier
Ultraviolet air purification is the gold standard of neutralizing gaseous pollutants and rendering them harmless. UV air purifiers use the most powerful of the three ultraviolet light bands, UV-C, to change the molecular structure of gaseous toxins so they can’t hurt you.
4. Add a HEPA air filtration system
Adding HEPA filtration isn’t quite so simple as just switching your furnace filter. Most residential HVAC units can’t accommodate the ultra-dense HEPA filter, which can trap particulates as small as 1/100th of a human hair.
But what you can do is retrofit your existing HVAC system to work with a standalone HEPA air filtration system. Alternatively (for non-ducted HVAC systems), you can substitute a portable HEPA filtration unit.
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