Excessive pollution may cause severe illnesses of the airways and of the heart or cancers, but there is another effect, that is often neglected, pollution may cause skin aging and hair damages. This is the result of two studies, one very recent proposed a few days ago at the 28° meeting in Madrid of EADV, the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, by a Korean team (Hyuk Chul Kwon et al, Future Science Research Centre). The second study, on the contrary, dates back a few years ago and was published by a German and Swiss team in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (Vierkoetter et al, 2010).
The Korean team performed an experiment where human scalp cells that can be found at the base of hair follicle were exposed to various concentrations of PM 10 and diesel particulate. Well, after 24 hours the scientists observed that the levels of beta catenin, a type of protein responsible for hair growth, decreased. In addition to this, the researchers observed also that the levels of three other proteins, cyclin D1, cyclin E and CDK2, all linked to hair growth and hair retention, were decreased. The decrease in proteins occurred in a dose dependent manner, namely, the greater the pollution, the greater the decrease of proteins. The German study, instead, showed that exposition to pollution, given by car exhaust fumes and soot, is linked to a significant increase in skin spots, especially in forehead and cheeks, and, in a lower quantity, also to wrinkles.
Both the studies show the importance to protect skin and hair from the damages of pollution. The scientists give also some tips. For example, it is better to avoid or limit walks in the busy streets in the peak hours, then, to do physical activity it is better to choose places that are less polluted and avoid running and walking among cars. Instead, there is still little evidence that specific products purchased as anti pollutant for skin and hair may really work.