Impact of Environment on Skin Health and How to Manage


Our surroundings can affect our skin’s health to a great extent. The sunlight that we are exposed to, the water that we bathe in, the air that we breathe and the clothes that we wear can all have a significant impact on our skin. How we manage to navigate these factors can go a long way in keeping our skin healthy.

1. How Does Sun Exposure Affect Skin Health?

One of the environmental factors that affect the skin includes sunlight. Over-exposure of the skin to sunlight means our skin is exposed to harmful ultraviolet rays can damage our skin cells. This can cause a variety of problems ranging from the more common sunburn to the very rare skin cancer.

How Does Sun Exposure Damage Skin?


A little amount of sunlight is very essential for the skin as it is a good source of Vitamin D. However, exposure to the sun for long periods of time can damage your skin. Some of the harmful effects of overexposure to the sun include –

1. Sunburn

When the skin is exposed to the sun, it starts getting tanned and produces more pigments called melanin. Melanin is a pigment which gives colour to our body and protects us from the harmful UV rays of the sun. However, the amount of melanin produced is determined by our genetics and continued exposure eventually results in our skin getting burned by the sun’s UV rays. Sunburn causes inflammation of the skin and can be extremely painful.

2. Uneven production of Melanin – freckles and age spots

Repeated damage to the skin caused by overexposure to sunlight can affect melanin production. With age melanin can forms clumps resulting in freckles and age spots appearing on the skin.

3. Collagen production slowed down

The UVB rays present in sunlight can damage elastin present in the skin. This reduces the production of collagen and can drastically affect your long-term skin health. Skin can sag, wrinkle and produce sunspots due to these harmful UV rays.

4. Skin Cancer

Overexposure to the sun can increase your chances of contracting a skin cancer like squamous cell carcinoma or melanoma.

Ways to Cope with It

While sunlight can be harmful to your skin, it shouldn’t be completely avoided. In fact, limited exposure to sunlight every day is encouraged.

A few ways to prevent the negative effects of overexposure to sunlight include –

  1. Try to stay clear of sunlight between 10 am to 2 pm since sunlight is most intense during this period.
  2. Use sunscreens before going out in the sun. Use a minimum of SPF 15 for protection. SPF refers to the sun protection factor of a sunscreen, it measures how well the sunscreen offers protection against UVB rays.
  3. A proper diet can help prevent some of the negative aspects of sun overexposure. Foods rich in antioxidants, leafy greens and vegetables having lycopene should be a part of your diet to offer additional protection from the sun.

2. Effects of Air Conditioners on Skin

Air conditioners can feel very comforting on a hot summer day. Who doesn’t like their own personally controlled weather? However, the air produced by air conditioners are very dry and it leads to moisture getting sucked out from the skin. Hence, an over-exposure to AC can have a negative effect on your skin’s health.

How Does AC Damage Skin


  1. When you move into an air-conditioned room you experience a sudden change in ambient temperature especially if it has been too hot or too cold outside. This sudden temperature change can be stressful for your skin.
  2. AC’s suck out the moisture from a room. So if a person stays long enough in an air-conditioned room then even the moisture from their skin gets taken away. This makes the skin susceptible to being dry. Dry skin is susceptible to conditions like eczema and psoriasis and they exacerbate already present symptoms.
  3. An AC which has not been properly cleaned and maintained can promote the growth of bacteria which can be detrimental to your health.

Ways to Cope with It

The easiest way to avoid drying up your skin is avoiding the use of an AC. However, it’s not always easy to avoid AC’s use completely, especially when at work. Here are a few things which you can do instead –

  1. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water, fruit juice or coconut water throughout the day.
  2. Avoid doubly stressing your skin by overusing commercial products like perfumes, scented soaps and lotions. Always opt for milder, natural products which don’t stress your skin.
  3. Use a humidifier to make up for the moisture lost by running the AC.
  4. Use refreshing facial mists or facial oils to moisturize your skin and keep it from being dry. You can also dab our face with wet wipes intermittently to prevent the skin from drying up.
  5. Take breaks from your air-conditioned work environment. Go out for a small walk or turn off the AC for a short period of time in your home or office.

3. Impact of Clothing Chemicals on Skin Health

Most of the clothes that we wear have undergone a complex process of production involving a lot of chemicals before they end up as a finished product and can be worn by us. The compounds used to treat cloth including dyes can have damaging effects on our skin.

Which Toxins in Clothes Damage Skin and Health?

  1. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)

NPEs are organic compounds present in many clothes. They have been known to carry developmental risks and are detrimental to the reproductive health of rodents. The EPA has also concluded that they are a risk to aquatic life. While their effect on humans is not well known it’s still believed to negatively affect human health.

2. Azo dyes

Azo dyes are one of the many different types of dyes used in manufacturing clothing. They have been known to be carcinogenic in high amounts and their risk is so great that certain governments are moving to completely ban them.

3. Metal

They do not pose a threat in low concentrations, however, a high concentration of metals and metal ions on clothes can pose a serious health threat.

4. Formaldehyde and Phthalates

The chemical formaldehyde is used in textile industries to make the clothes wrinkle resistant. However, it’s known to be a skin irritant and can cause skin health to deteriorate. Phthalates are also commonly used to make clothing. They can be dangerous to human health since they are known to be endocrine disruptors.

Ways to Cope with It

Buy natural materials

Make it a priority to buy clothes made from natural materials like cotton and wool instead of synthetic materials like nylons.

Wash before use

It’s a good idea to wash your new clothes with a natural detergent before wearing them. This can prove to be especially useful if you are prone to allergic contact dermatitis.

Research before buying

Research how a company manufactures its product. Buy from companies which are more transparent about their manufacturing processes and practices.

4. How Does Air Pollution Damage Skin Health?

How Does Air Pollution Damage Skin Health

Contact with pollutants present in the air like smog, smoke, dust, particulates and other chemicals can cause harm to your skin.

How Does Air Pollution Damage Skin?

1. Indoor Pollution

Pollution of air caused indoors by burning of wood in stoves and fireplaces can cause the skin to become dry and be more susceptible to rashes and allergies. A good way to allay the effects of indoor pollution is good ventilation allowing fresh air to circulate in the room.

2. Outdoor Pollution

Air pollutants like the greenhouse gases released by various industries can cause harm to the ozone layer and facilitate the entry of harmful UV rays which greatly increase the chance of skin disease and cancer.

3. Early Ageing

Continuous and prolonged exposure to air pollutants can cause premature ageing of the skin. This is caused by the presence of free radicals which rob the skin of oxygen and cause the skin to sag.

Ways to Cope with It

  1. Have an antioxidant-rich diet. This helps fend off skin damage due to pollution.
  2. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink plenty of water to keep your skin in good shape.
  3. Get a good night’s sleep.
  4. Wash your face after getting back from a hard day’s work to make sure that all of the accumulated pollutants on your skin get washed away.
  5. Keep your skin covered. Wear long-sleeved tops to protect your skin from air pollution and harmful UVB rays.
  6. Workout in the morning when the levels of pollution are relatively low.

5. How Does Chlorine Affect Skin?

Chlorine is a common chemical used to treat water to kill off microbes and other germs living in it. Chlorine is usually present in swimming pools but sometimes a small amount can be used to also treat tap water. Exposure to chlorine can have debilitating long-term effects on your skin and body.

How Does Chlorine Damage Skin?


1. Can Cause Skin Conditions

Chlorine can kill the good bacteria present in our body specifically the beneficial intestinal microbiota. These bacteria produce Vitamins B12 and K and also help a bit in digestion. This impact can flare-ups of skin conditions such as eczema and rashes.

2. Premature Ageing

Chlorinated water promotes skin aging in a similar way that sunlight does. Long-term exposure to chlorinated water can cause fine lines and wrinkles to appear on your skin.

Check here to know more about natural tips for anti-aging.

3. Dry Skin

Chlorinated water can strip the skin of its natural oils which actually helps in maintaining skin moisture. This leads to a dry and itchy skin.

Ways to Cope with It

  1. Try to avoid swimming if you’re prone to skin problems such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.
  2. Always look for swimming pools having the least amount of chlorine.
  3. Continuous swimming in chlorinated water can lead to long-term skin problems. If you’re a regular swimmer take a few days off every week.
  4. Take a shower after you’re done swimming to strip off the chlorine present on your skin.
  5. Use moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated especially after you are done swimming.

Also read: Climate Change: Causes and Effects on Everyone


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here