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‘Constant exposure to fine dust can cause inflammation under the skin’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.04.01 11:37
  • Updated 2019.04.01 11:37
  • comments 0

A research team at Seoul National University Boramae Hospital has discovered that fine dust can penetrate the dermal layer through the barrier-damaged skin and causes inflammation, the hospital said Friday.

Professor Cho So-youn

The team, led by Professor Cho So-youn of the department of dermatology at the hospital, conducted both a laboratory and animal experiments by collecting fine dust particles, with particle sizes of 10 μm or less, during winter time in Seoul.

The study was the first one that directly examined the effects of fine dust exposure. The result showed that fine dust could have a direct adverse effect on the damaged skin of people and animals.

In a laboratory experiment, the team found that applying fine dust to the keratinocytes of cultured human epidermis increases cytotoxicity in proportion to dose, which results in increased inflammation of the skin. The team also observed that the process also generated active oxygen species, which damaged the cells.

Also, after observing the keratinocytes of the human body with an electron microscope the team found intracellular dust particles, confirming that fine dust can penetrate directly into the skin.

Regarding the animal study, the team divided hairless rats into two groups -- normal skin barrier and injured skin barrier -- and exposed them to fine dust.

As a result, the researchers observed fine dust in the skin follicles after exposure in both groups. Notably, the team confirmed that the fine dust penetrates the epidermis through the keratinocyte in rats that had skin damage, while also verifying that fine dust particles penetrated the skin when observed under an electron microscope.

To investigate the effect of repeated exposure to fine dust, the team applied fine dust to the skin of the experimental rat 10 times and observed the tissue. As a result, the team saw that the thickening of the epidermis and infiltration of inflammatory deep into the dermis, while applying antioxidants alleviated such symptoms.

“It was the first study to confirm the effects of fine dust in the skin,” Professor Cho said. “Even if the skin barrier is normal, fine dust will flow into the hair follicle, and as fine dust has been severe the last few weeks, it is necessary to take a shower every day.”

In particular, patients with atopic dermatitis, diabetic patients and older adults who have weak skin barrier should pay particular attention to exposure to fine dust, Cho added.

Journal of Dermatological Science published the results of the trial.


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