As the air continues to hang, thick and dirty, learn how to clean and protect your skin from tiny air pollutants.
Dermatologist Chan Yuin Chew at Dermatology Associates at the Gleneagles Medical Centre, says there is nothing to worry about if you have healthy skin. “For most people, short-term exposure to the haze should not cause any major skin problems.”
However, he adds that for those with intolerant skin or existing skin conditions such as eczema, haze particles may trigger skin irritation that results in dry, itchy and red rashes.
Senior consultant dermatologist and clinical associate professor Mark Tang at the National Skin Centre says some of his patients with eczema have reported a worsening in their skin condition, especially on exposed areas such as the face, neck and forearms.
The best thing to do, then, is to see a dermatologist to get a proper assessment and anti-inflammatory medication.
Dr Tang says microscopic pollutants can enter one’s skin, causing skin damage through the generation of free radicals and triggering skin inflammation, especially in those with sensitive skin.
So besides staying indoors and reducing one’s exposure to the haze, be sure to keep skin clean. Those who have to spend time outdoors may need to wash their skin more regularly than usual, but there is no need to be obsessive about it or use harsh cleansers.
Dr Chan says over-washing the skin may aggravate skin irritation and recommends using a gentle cleanser.
Dr Tang says when one wears tight-fitting masks for too long – to the point where your skin feels uncomfortable – “it can sometimes lead to skin problems such as contact irritation. Again, staying indoors will help prevent this from happening.
Reusing dirty masks may also lead to acne. So use common sense and change the mask once it feels grubby.
Dr Chan says there is no need to moisturise the skin more than usual unless it feels especially dry or if eczema flares up. Over-moisturising can lead to acne and clogged pores.
Chemically treated hair is more porous and in such hazy weather, one may find that it smells like a burning forest after one has been outdoors, says Ms Violet Sainsbury, creative design team educator and master hairstylist at haircare brand Moroccanoil.
There is nothing much one can do about that, except to wash the hair once a day (there is no need to rinse the locks more often than that).
And instead of using a deep- cleansing shampoo once a fortnight, use it once a week.
To protect hair from pollution and humidity which can lead to frizziness, use leave-in haircare products before stepping out of the house.
Apply a hair treatment on towel- dried hair, blow dry your tresses and spritz on a lightweight anti-frizz serum.
By Gladys Chung, The Straits Times, October 4, 2015