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Study uncovers how wildfire-related air pollution affects our skin: 'These findings can inform patient counseling and management'

"The list of bad things air pollution causes keeps growing!"

"The list of bad things air pollution causes keeps growing!"

Photo Credit: iStock

Adult acne is now on the growing list of health issues exacerbated by wildfires and air pollution. 

As Medical Xpress reported, dermatology clinic visits have increased following wildfires in California. The visit statistics indicated a connection between wildlife smoke and acne-related skin issues. 

What's happening?

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a study to assess how environmental factors affect acne vulgaris, a common form of acne and a chronic condition. They analyzed 2,054 visits of 1,549 patients and compared acne visits at a San Francisco care center before, during, and after the Camp Fire of 2018

Based on measurements of fire status, satellite-based plume density, and concentration of particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller (PM2.5), the researchers found significant increases in adult acne clinic visits compared to times with no wildfires. 

"With the worldwide increasing frequency and intensity of wildfires, these findings can inform patient counseling and management," wrote the study's authors. The study was presented at an American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting in San Diego. 

Why is wildfires' effect on the skin significant? 

This news about the effect of wildfires on skin is not an isolated finding but rather part of a growing body of evidence about how impactful extreme weather can be. Months earlier, researchers found a connection between wildfire smoke and eczema

"The list of bad things air pollution causes keeps growing!" one LinkedIn user commented on a Clean Air Fund post about the eczema finding.

As global temperatures continue to rise, wildfires become more frequent and severe. The aftermath of wildfires now goes far beyond burning down homes and forests. Studies keep revealing the long-term effects of wildfires on human health. Inhaling wildfire smoke is as bad as smoking half a pack of cigarettes and increases the risk of cardiac illnesses and premature death.

With new scientific evidence about the effects of wildfire air pollution on the skin, dermatologists can be better prepared to address their patient's needs and develop treatment plans centered on environmental resilience and improving damaged skin. 

Other ways to prepare yourself to be more resilient to wildfires include packing a go-bag to grab quickly in case of an emergency and using a HEPA air purifier to filter dirty air in your home. On poor air quality days, keep windows and doors closed, keep your air conditioning in recirculate mode, and stay inside as much as possible to protect your skin and overall health.

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