Is There a Link between Air Pollution and Dandruff?

Hair care

As the country reopens its economy after lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, consumers will have to face the common enemy: air pollution.

According to the WHO report, the average concentration of particular matter in the country is over 15 μg/m3 each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no higher than 10 μg/m3 annually.

Air pollution harms different parts of the body, but what many people don’t know is it can be dangerous for the skin. It can exacerbate or lead to dandruff.

The Connection

What’s the link between dandruff and air pollution? The skin is the largest external organ of the body. It not only supports the internal parts but also works as a barrier against threats in the environment. These include particulate matter, hydrocarbons, gas emissions, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

When adequately nourished or taken care of, the skin can handle all these pollutants. However, long-term exposure could increase the risk of oxidative stress.

What is oxidative stress? The body produces antioxidants, some of which come from food. These compounds fight free radicals that usually arise when some cells go rogue and begin to damage the healthy ones.

They can trigger cellular damage, which can then increase the risk of disease or disorder. When the body undergoes oxidative stress, it accumulates more free radicals than it could handle, such as an overactive immune system or significant inflammatory response.

Dandruff is more than the flaking of the skin. It is a type of skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. While fungi can cause it, an impaired immune system can also be a risk factor.

How to Deal with Dandruff

If you want to reduce your risk of dandruff, you need to lessen your exposure to air pollution. In these uncertain times, it might be much easier as you go out when you have to. It might be to buy food from the grocery or report to work.

But you also need to protect and nourish your scalp. One option is to invest in natural anti-dandruff shampoo. Your choice of shampoo matters since some contain harmful chemicals that will only increase inflammation and thus worsen your dermatitis.

Second, natural shampoos are likely to be enriched with substances or compounds that serve the skin. Take, for example, moringa or malunggay.

The famous plant in the Philippines features a variety of vitamins and minerals. These include vitamins C, B vitamins, magnesium, and iron, which can help protect the cells from oxidative stress and lower inflammatory response.

It can also contain proteins, which are essential for the scalp and hair. They help supply your head with keratin, one of the structural proteins that make up the strands.

Some shampoos combine moringa with an essential oil such as argan. It comes from the kernels of the argan tree that mostly grows in Morocco.

This oil is an excellent source for fatty acids, such as linoleic and oleic acids, that help retain the moisture of the scalp and hair. By doing this, the skin is not prone to itchiness, redness, and infection. It can also repair the skin’s barrier with its antioxidants.

You can also protect your hair in the following ways:

  • Eat healthy food rich in vitamins and minerals. Besides malunggay, fuel your body with apples, berries, carrots, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli.
  • Improve your weight. Many studies relate obesity to skin conditions such as dermatitis since it also worsens chronic inflammation. In other words, it lessens the body’s ability to fight elements that can harm the skin.
  • Sleep well. Quality sleep can help regulate your immunity.
  • Drink lots of water. People prone to dermatitis usually have issues with their skin barrier, which means their skin cannot hold on to water for a long time. Keeping yourself hydrated can then lessen the chances of dryness and itchiness.
  • Don’t wash your hair often. It might sound counterproductive, but overwashing the hair can rob it of natural oils, leaving it dull, dry, and prone to breakage.

How About Apple Cider Vinegar?

Shiny hair

Some people recommend using apple cider vinegar to reduce seborrheic dermatitis. It could be because ACV contains antifungal properties. It is also mildly acidic, which can then help restore the pH balance of your skin.

You can use it as a wash to remove the dead skin cells and potentially kill pathogens that might be causing or worsening your skin condition. Note, though, that most reports are only anecdotal. It is still best to use hair care products designed for dandruff.

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