With Mumbai seeing a considerable rise in temperatures over the last few years, a lot of people have installed air conditioners in their houses. Which means that not only are they spending a whole day in an air conditioned environment in their offices but are also spending the remainder of their day and nights at home with their air conditioner turned on on full blast at home. On Sundays, too, air conditioners are kept running all day long in a lot of homes.
While it is a relief to walk into a cool room after being out in the hot sun, prolonged use of air conditioners causes more harm than good. What you are unaware of is the havoc it plays on your skin and hair.
A room where an air conditioner is running, is as dry and arid as a desert. This is because air conditioners pull out humidity from the air in a room and ACs are not selective about the moisture that they pull. "ACs pull out moisture from the skin as well and leave it feeling dry and stretched. If your skin is not sufficiently protected to combat it, constant dryness will affect the inner layer of the skin. When skin becomes dry and stretched, it feels itchy. Those who have a dry skin will notice that their skin becomes flaky. Air conditioners aggravate skin disorders," says cosmetologist and skin specialist, Dr Rajan T D.
AC removes water i.e. humidity from indoor air and robs the outer layer of the epidermis of skin. This constant loss of water and lack of replacement of water from the skin tissues below result in flaking, dry and chapped skin. Water is essential to keep the blood flowing. It performs the same function for the skin and maintains elasticity. It is important for keeping the skin's elasticity intact. When ACs remove the water or humidity content from a room, skin starts shrivelling. Skin also becomes prone to developing creases and wrinkles. All this hastens the ageing process and there is hardly anyone in this world who would like to have skin that has aged a lot more than their actual years.
To worsen the situation, people often step out from an air conditioned office or car into the blazing hot sun or walk into an air conditioned place from a hot, outdoor environ. This sudden shift from one extreme climate to another extreme is very stressful for the body. Facial skin is also greatly battered by this abrupt change in temperature. As such, pollution, changing weather conditions, dietary habits, lifestyle stresses cause degeneration of the skin. It seems like skin is constantly struggling to maintain its health against the blows meted out by both, nature and technology. All this stress can be unhealthy and damaging.
Since you can't turn off the air conditioners in your office, try not to become dependent on them. Live without the AC while you are at home. Switch on the air conditioners only during the summers.
Limit the use of soap and water to areas where skin is prone to get dry. Dr Kshama Vibhakar, a consultant dermatologist suggests, "Use moisture rich lotions, not creams to enrich the skin on your face, neck, hands, elbows, knees and wherever else you feel it is necessary. Lotions are water based and add moisture to the skin. You can use creams after applying the lotion as creams are oil based and help to seal in the moisture."
Hydrate your skin by constantly sipping water. It is easy to forget to have water when you are sitting in an air conditioned room. But don't wait to feel thirsty, sip water at constant intervals. Set reminders if needed. Replenish your skin for the lost water.
Since ACs pull out moisture from a room, place bowls of water in the area. This is a simple way to combat the drying effects of the air conditioner because the AC will pull out water from the bowl of water first instead of the facial skin.
It is true that air conditioners are a technological comfort. But without proper and consistent care, ACs have the potential to damage skin. Those who have a poor diet, underlying illness or skin that is not well-maintained, will not be able to adjust going from a boiling hot environment to an air conditioned on and their skin may suffer from structural damage, which cannot be treated with over the counter drugs. Hence it is better to be safe than sorry.