You’ve blamed your skincare habits or lack thereof, a dairy-rich diet full of processed foods and your ever-fluctuating hormones for your acne and just when you thought you had everything under control along came mask-ne. You changed out your mask every few hours, used a hydrating spray underneath and even switched to silk face masks but the acne still persists. Some dermatologists think there may be a new culprit behind your breakouts: climate change.
Humans have not only managed to mess up the entire equilibrium of the planet but have also caused their skin to suffer in the process. Though climate change may not directly cause breakouts and acne is a complex disease that could have several contributing factors, the changes brought on by a heating world could well be playing a part in the rise of cases, research has shown.
How are climate change and acne correlated you ask? Experts say climate change affects our skin health in a multitude of ways. The fact that it causes adverse weather events and natural disasters puts a lot of stress on us, manifesting under the skin to rear its ugly head later as pesky pimples.
Rising temperatures, coupled with spreading air pollution, can make the skin produce more sebum and cause the sebaceous glands to enlarge, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungus. This also makes it more difficult to maintain personal and environmental hygiene. Depleting water sources and serious drought are also pushing farmers and engineers to pump produce with more growth hormones, possibly contributing to more acne lesions.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Dermatology Specialist Rana Anadolu said that acne, which was once mainly seen in teenagers, had now become a widespread disease seen in nearly every age group. Pointing out that over 50% of women aged 25 or older were suffering from adult acne, Anadolu said that nowadays men were also frequently seeing acne form in their beards, scalp and bodies.
Anadolu blamed stress, hormonal substances in food, plastic additives, protein powders used as sports supplements, long-wearing make-up such as 24-hour foundations, and many chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), which can be found in some plastic food containers and water bottles, for disrupting the endocrine system and intestinal flora.
She said many harmful chemicals we use in our daily lives disrupted and deceived our endocrine systems by mimicking biological activity.
"These substances bind to a cellular receptor (and lead to unwarranted responses), making the body think that they are normal physiological hormones," causing tissues or organs to not function properly.
“The deteriorating skin flora and antibiotics taken unintentionally via food cause the bacteria in our skin to rapidly multiply and create inflammation, while becoming more and more resistant to treatments (due to excessive antibiotic consumption),” Anadolu said.
More and thicker sebum then can lead to sticky plugs forming in the pores, which stops our natural oils from flowing out. With moisture also getting trapped under skin cells due to high heat and humidity, sebum starts to accumulate under the skin, leading to whiteheads, papules or pustules.
“Just like a clogged sink, these sebum deposits start to expand into the bottom layers of the skin, causing both inflammation and scarring.”
Anadolu said this new type of acne is stubborn and hard to treat and shows a tendency to relapse when treatment is ceased. With the skin barrier impaired and bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics, breakouts continue to multiply and get more inflamed. This type of acne tends to be characterized by pus-filled bumps or cystic and pustular lesions, which “can affect people’s confidence and psychologies at work or in their daily lives,” she stressed.
She said a course of action should be tailored to each individual and treatments should be long-term.
The dermatologist warned that people shouldn’t always follow the advice people give on social media or the internet, and go to a specialist instead for proper treatment and management of symptoms.
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