How working at home supports your skin care
Efforts to control the Covid-19 epidemic included lockdowns that forced millions of people to work at home in addition to those previously doing so. If you are now working from home, then you have probably already considered the many pros and cons of this arrangement. One of the “collateral” benefits you might not have considered is that working at home can actually support better skin care! Although this assertion may not seem obvious, there are at least 4 reasons why you should enjoy healthier skin at home, as compared to working elsewhere:
1. Reduced exposure to drying stressors in nonresidential work places
A traditional work schedule consists of a commute to get to a workplace, followed by time spent in an office, vehicle, factory, etc., and finally the return commute home. Except for commuting in your personal vehicle, you are probably unable to control the air temperature of your personal space, and certainly not the level of ambient humidity. Consequently, as skin drying stresses in the workplace change as a function of temperature and humidity, you are basically powerless to do anything about them. Working at home, though, removes this constraint.
2. Easier monitoring of indoor drying stresses on skin at home
The combined impact of humidity and temperature on skin can be measured by the Dry Skin Index (DSI). Fortunately, the Dermidia Select web app can be used to estimate the magnitude of indoor drying stresses. Awareness of the DSI levels in your home workplace will help guide your year-round skin care to achieve healthier skin.
Healthy skin is skin that is adequately hydrated so that the barrier function of the stratum corneum is maintained.
Relative humidity (RH) is the most important factor controlling the drying stresses on your skin because as RH increases, skin hydration increases and water loss from the skin surface decreases. Temperature variations can also exert mechanical stresses on skin–with stresses increasing as temperatures decrease. The basic skin-care practices for dealing with these stressors are to modify indoor humidity and apply moisturizing lotions in order to maintain the skin’s barrier function.
3. Capability to modify drying stresses
A key advantage of working at home is the ability to directly control indoor temperature and humidity. This capability is especially important during the cool, dry months of the year when the potential for dry skin is the greatest (see Engebretsen et al., 2016). So, as you set up your home office space, please consider a room humidifier as an essential piece of home office equipment that is needed to help prevent dry-skin formation. Changing the temperature on your thermostat is also a control option, but it is far less important that controlling for humidity. In addition, it is worth noting that recent research by Razjouyan et al. (2020) indicates that a relative humidity of 45% in the workplace minimizes cardiac stress.
4. Access to moisturizing creams and lotions
A humidifier used in conjunction with moisturizing lotions and creams is probably the best overall strategy for supporting healthier, hydrated skin while working at home. When the indoor relative humidity is between 40 to 60%, application of lotions/creams is the easiest way of keeping your skin hydrated. Moreover, some lotions/creams include ceramides, which can help restore the barrier function of aging skin. Because you can keep a variety of lotions/creams at your residence, it is far easier to monitor indoor drying stressors and then apply moisturizers as needed.
The work-at-home population has expanded greatly during the Covid-19 pandemic. A surprising benefit of working at home is the ability to improve skin care by monitoring indoor drying stressors on skin and then proactively dealing with them by the timely use of room humidification and/or application of moisturizing agents on skin.
Engebretsen, K. A., J. D. Johansen, S. Kezic, A. Linneberg, and J. P. Thyssen. “The effect of environmental humidity and temperature on skin barrier function and dermatitis.” Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology 30 (2016): 223-249.
Razjouyan, Javad, Hyoki Lee, Brian Gilligan, Casey Lindberg, Hung Nguyen, Kelli Canada, Alex Burton et al. “Wellbuilt for wellbeing: Controlling relative humidity in the workplace matters for our health.” Indoor air 30 (2020): 167-179.