Haze can be bad for your skin too

Even when it is not sunny, skin protection habits is always a good idea. Photo: Shutterstock

My gym buddy Andrew Mah was gung-ho and going all out in his preparation for this year’s Standard Chartered Marathon.

Andrew had spent countless hours hitting the threadmill and running the track at KLCC Park, determined to do well in the run.

Unfortunately, he didn’t anticipate the haze, which shrouded Kuala Lumpur and other parts of the country in a grayish cloud of gloom.

Two days before the marathon was to take place, Andrew posted on his Facebook wall: “Let’s hope the haze will improve, or even clear before the run!”

“Dearest Andrew, you have a higher chance of striking the lottery than the haze clearing in time for the run,” I thought.

The marathon, which was supposed to be on Oct 4, was indeed cancelled due to the haze, much to the disappointment of Andrew and thousands of Malaysians.

Treating Andrew to his favourite McDonald’s strawberry sundae ice cream did little to lighten up his mood.

Western countries have their four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. Malaysia seems to have four seasons now too – monsoon, dengue, durian and haze!

It’s an annual tradition now. Every year without fail, the haze makes its way over here from our neighbour in the east, but this year’s “edition” appears to be much worse than it has been in recent years.

There does not seem to be much point in spending time outside; even a simple act such as opening a window to let some fresh air in isn’t a possibility any more.

The pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, dust and other small particles can have an irritating effect on skin.

These elements may clog your pores, suffocate your skin and result in pimples, as seen on my bff (best friend forever) Herman.

Haze pollutants may also result in dry and rougher skin. For individuals with extra sensitive skin, they may even suffer bouts of rashes.

The haze may have a terrible effect on your skin, but you shouldn’t just let “nature” take its course – there are many ways in which you can combat this.

You should try to moisturise your skin in order to prevent it from drying out. Apply moisturising products twice daily; this should help to prevent moisture from leaving your skin, as well as create a barrier between the haze and your skin.

This can also reduce itching, so, individuals with sensitive skin should take note.

Speaking of itching, lotions can also help to alleviate this. Wash the affected areas thoroughly before applying skin creams, lotions, or similar products like aloe vera gel.

If you’re looking for a natural DIY alternative, you could use an oat paste and apply it on your skin to reduce the irritation.

But as much as you try to prevent it, dirt and grime will always find a way to settle on your skin.

You should use a facial and skin cleanser to exfoliate your skin; this gets rid of any grime that has built up.

However, try not to wash your face and skin too many times as this might result in the loss of the natural oil on your skin and you will end up with dry skin. You don’t want to look like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, do you?

Be sure to drink plenty of water as well. You should be aiming to consume a minimum of two litres of water daily as this greatly helps you remain hydrated.

If you are hydrated, it makes it much easier for the body to get rid of any toxins that find their way into your lungs and skin.

Although water is the best option, other drinks are also acceptable as your main aim is to be hydrated as much as possible.

Just avoid coffee and alcohol as this forces your kidneys to work extra hard. So, guys, don’t use the haze as an excuse to get wasted!

Your diet can also play an important role in ensuring your skin is moist and hydrated. Fish and flaxseed oil are just two examples of food that can offer additional protection to your skin from the haze, as it is rich in fatty acids.

Fresh fruits and vegetables that have plenty of vitamins and antioxidants can also help protect your skin from the particles in the air, so ensure that your fridge is well-stocked!

There are also some practical ways to maintain your skin’s condition during the haze. For example, you may want to cover up with protective clothing, especially if your skin is sensitive.

Long-sleeved shirts and jeans prevent your skin from being exposed to the hazy air, which may be beneficial in the long run.

Of course, the weather here means wearing such clothing might get you all hot and bothered, so, you have to weigh up the pros and cons of wearing such clothes.

Dr Chen Tai Ho is an experienced aesthetic doctor who chills by the pool sipping espresso latte when he’s not attending to his patients. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.

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