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Doctors issue warning over little-known threat to our skin during summer: 'Can contribute to skin aging and discoloration'

"Daily sunscreen is nonnegotiable."

"Daily sunscreen is nonnegotiable."

Photo Credit: iStock

A warming climate could pose additional complications to skin health, including discoloration and sunspots, according to Yale Climate Connections.

What's happening?

Doctors are warning that skin exposure to a number of environmental factors associated with a warming planet — intense heat, UV radiation, pollution, and smoke — can take its toll on skin, leading to premature wrinkling, skin discoloration, and sun spots, the publication reported.

Not only do these climate-associated hazards pose a direct risk to our skin from the outside, but they can also trigger other health problems like allergic asthma and certain autoimmune conditions, which can lead to dry, itchy skin and rashes.

UV radiation is a common culprit for dangers like premature aging and skin cancer, but heat itself can also cause problems.

"Chronic low-grade heat exposure can contribute to skin aging and discoloration of the skin," Dr. Shadi Kourosh, community health dermatology director at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Harvard Medical School associate professor of dermatology, told the publication.

Why are rising temperatures concerning?

Record-breaking heat waves swept the globe in 2023 and 2024. Asia was hit by brutal temperatures in April, Mexico suffered a severe heat wave in May, and Greece suffered its earliest heat wave on record in June. 

Skin health is not the only concern doctors have about rising temperatures. For instance, one study found an increased risk of preterm births and health complications for infants during heat waves. 

Plus, extreme heat can lead to heat stroke, which can end in death — according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heat-related deaths have been increasing in the U.S. in recent years, with about 1,602 occurring in 2021, 1,722 in 2022, and 2,302 in 2023.

What can I do to protect my skin?

According to Yale Climate Connections, there are a few steps you can take to protect your skin from climate damage: drink plenty of water, wear sun-protective clothing, guard against pollutants with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, and eat an antioxidant-rich diet with lots of fruits and vegetables

The publication also recommends a strong skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing and moisturizing everyday. "Daily sunscreen is nonnegotiable," it says.

Meanwhile, you can stay safe from heat stress by limiting outdoor exposure, increasing airflow inside your home, and installing heat-reflective windows

In order to avoid the worst consequences of rising global temperatures, it's still important that we cut our dependence on dirty energy. You can do your part by changing the way you get around.

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