Bad air gets under your skin

Exp Dermatol. 2017 May;26(5):384-387. doi: 10.1111/exd.13257. Epub 2017 Feb 20.


Air pollution is increasing beyond previous estimates and is viewed as the world's largest environmental health risk factor. Numerous clinical and epidemiological studies have highlighted the adverse effects of environmental pollutants on health. Although there is comparatively less research investigating the cutaneous effects of ambient pollution, there is growing recognition of the adverse effects on skin. In this article, we provide an overview of the nature of environmental pollution and highlight the current evidence detailing the effects on cutaneous health. There is convincing evidence demonstrating that air pollution has a detrimental impact on skin and can exacerbate skin disease. Further epidemiological and experimental studies are required to assess the short- and long-term deleterious effects of ambient pollutant exposure on skin. The future challenge would be to use this evidence to develop specific strategies to protect against pollution-induced damage and prevent the effects of "bad air getting under our skin."

Keywords: environmental pollution; nitrogen dioxide; ozone; polyaromatic hydrocarbons; skin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / toxicity
  • Ozone / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Phthalic Acids / toxicity
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / toxicity
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon / metabolism
  • Skin / drug effects*
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Phthalic Acids
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Receptors, Aryl Hydrocarbon
  • Ozone
  • Nitrogen Dioxide