Urban lifestyle imposes many challenges that can negatively impact our health, in particular our skin (including the scalp). The congested populous cities with higher economic activities, usually register high pollution. Combined with other challenges arising from urban dwelling, this may lead to many skin problems such as irritation, acne, eczema, premature aging and hair loss.
The main environmental aggressor faced by urban dwellers is pollution.
Pollutant particles can cause skin irritation. Dirt particles accumulate on the skin clog pores which cause breakouts. Pollution particles can cause oxidative stress, which weakens the skin’s natural barrier. A weaken barrier leads to premature ageing of skin.
Harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone are bad for the skin. They cause irritation, slow down skin metabolism, give dull complexion and hair, dry skin and hair, and age the skin.
Oxidative stress can also cause hair loss. A study by Rajendrasingh Rajput (hair transplant surgeon) published in OMICS International explains how air pollutants can cause hair loss. In the study, he states pollution can cause the scalp to be sensitive, resulting in prickling in the scalp, itching, dandruff, oily scalp and pain in the hair roots.
Stress can trigger chemical responses in your body that negatively impact the skin. Release of stress hormones causes skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne. The higher production of cortisol may lead to the undesired layer of stubborn fat in the tummy area. Chronic psychological stress triggers reactions which can age your skin.
Stress can cause non-genetic related hair loss. The good news is stress related hair loss is not permanent, according to the Mayo Clinic, and the effect can be reversed if the stress is addressed. Significant stress pushes large numbers of hair follicles into resting phase. Affected hairs may fall out within a few months. Stress can also cause the immune system to attack the hair follicles, causing them to fall.
Other challenges faced by urban dwellers that can impact your skin arise from the urban lifestyles. Many urbanites are not registering enough sleep, which means the body is being deprived of the time it needs to heal while resting. The fast pace nature could lead to less healthy and wholesome meals, which deprive the body from much-needed nutrients. Tight schedules could lead to less time given to exercises, which increases metabolic rate and induces sweating.
Similarly, diet and sleep deprivation can cause hair loss. Lack of sleep may lead to stress, which in turn may impact the process of hair growth and the loss of or thinning of hair. Not enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients can lead to hair loss, namely iron and stored iron deficiency. Protein deprived diets may be an issue as protein is needed to build new hair follicles. On the other hand, excessive nutrients such as Vitamin A can cause the same problem.
Impact on Skin and Hair
As detailed above, challenges faced by urbanites can cause skin problems (such as acne breakouts), premature ageing of the skin and hair loss. Toxins introduced into our body through the environment and food, are harmful if the build up is more than what the body can expel. Furthermore, these toxins may slow metabolic rate and encourages fat build up.
Some ways to help combat Urban Challenges
- Cleansing and moisturize
- UV protection
- Nutritious food
- Get enough Sleep
* Understanding Hair Loss due to Air Pollution and the Approach to Management by Rajendrasingh Rajput, click here.
* Can stress cause hair loss? Mayo Clinic Website, click here.