How climate change could affect your skin

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It’s okay to fret about the impact that even the smallest change in our climate could have on everyday life; Research suggests rising water levels could become high enough to overtake some coastal towns; Another suggests that a third of all plant and animal species could become extinct by 2050 – due to habitat or temperature changes. Hell, we could be next. (But definitely in the far future: according to celebrated climatologist Michael E. Mann — who may have been the inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Don’t look up – “There is no evidence of climate change scenarios that would cause humans to become extinct,” he told LiveScience.)

However, climate change could have a more direct impact on our skin. Human habits and material manufacturing contribute to the depletion of ozone, which increases the amount of UV rays reaching the surface, leading to an increase in skin cancer cases, but also a domino effect of other problems.

February 6, 2022 A false color view of all ozone over the Antarctic Pole. The purple and blue colors represent where there is least ozone. The yellow and red colors have the most.

NASA

Diagrams of the ozone layer
Season 2021 “The graphs above show the progression of the ozone hole for 2021. The gray shading shows the highest and lowest values ​​recorded since 1979.

NASA

“It is estimated that an increase in ambient temperature of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) will increase the incidence of skin cancer by 11% worldwide by 2050,” say Dr C. van der Leun and Frank R. de Gruijl. “Heat also has an indirect effect on skin cancer incidence by altering human behavior.”

“Climate change is real and it’s happening.”

11 percent is a gigantic Great, and this estimate was made about 20 years ago, when forecasts were more conservative, to put it mildly, and a little more hopeful people (especially corporate executives) might change their behavior. Whether we can correct our mistakes sufficiently to undo what many believe is inevitable remains to be seen. But climate change itself is not at issue. NASA proved it’s real.

“Earth’s climate has changed throughout history,” begins a recent NASA report. “In the last 650,000 years alone there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age some 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate age – and human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small fluctuations in Earth’s orbit that alter the amount of solar energy our planet receives… The current warming trend is of particular concern as it is clearly the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and is progressing at a rate that is unprecedented in millennia. It is undeniable that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land, and that widespread and rapid changes have taken place in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere.”

See? And dermatologists agree. They are preparing their patients as I write this. “Climate change is real and happening. It’s very important to anticipate it and be mentally and physically prepared (skin care routine),” says Dr. Ramachandra.

diagram of co2

Luthi, D., et al. 2008; Etheridge, DM, et al. 2010; Vostok ice core data/JR Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.

Sure, a skincare routine shouldn’t be the most important part of your apocalypse plan to figure out. But it should be considered. “Many skin diseases appear to be getting worse as a result of climate change,” explains Dr. Ramachandra. “These include inflammatory diseases such as eczema (atopic dermatitis) and pemphigus (an autoimmune blistering disease). We also know that emotional stress triggers conditions like eczema, vitiligo and psoriasis [up]. This would be expected in communities affected by natural disasters.”

Less serious problems like acne can also be triggered by climate change. Someone who may never have had a breakout before (rarely) might suddenly be fighting stubborn blackheads. “In warmer climates, increased heat and humidity can make your skin sweat, making you more prone to acne breakouts, especially if your skin is oily,” says Dr. Ramachandra. That rise in temperature can also increase cases of contagious skin conditions like Lymes — which is a lot more problematic than a few pimples. “An increase in Lyme disease is believed to be related to warmer environments more favorable for tick survival, as well as greater availability of hosts such as deer and mice,” adds Dr. Ramachandra added.

However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself – even in the face of the inevitable climate catastrophe. At the beginning, Dr. Ramachandra suggests that people “try to manage the stress that climate change can cause”. Easy enough right? (Joke.) She also advises you to “adapt your skincare routine to the climate you live in. Cold and Dry: Choose a stronger moisturizer. Moist and hot: Choose a lighter, oil-free moisturizer.”

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