Smoking Increases Likelihood of Skin Problems

It is a well known fact that cigarette smoking increases your risk of cancer, lung and heart disease. Smoking is also proven to cause delayed wound healing and several skin disorders including psoriasis.It is also accountable to premature skin aging causing otherwise unexplained skin droops and the development lines, along with dryness. The skin can also become coarse, unevenly coloured or be prone to broken blood vessels. Smokers often develop an orange/grey complexion – possibly owing to exposure from chemicals that the cigarettes contain.

Most people don’t realize that smoking is more damaging than sun exposure in causing wrinkling of the skin. These include “crow’s feet” lines that tend to develop at an earlier age in smokers than non-smokers. Vertical lines around the mouth- commonly referred to as  “smoker’s lines” also develop and continue to worsen with time.

Various studies conducted in the elderly demonstrate that by the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin aging. Possible factors that create this impact are (a) heat generated through the cigarette that directly contacts the skin (b) elastic fibre of the skin under-going changes due to smoke inhalation (c) vasoconstriction of blood vessels which can cause collagen loss in skin tissue (d) lowered vitamin A levels and hydration of the skin as a result of the cigarettes.

In terms of wound healing – smokers have been found to have higher incidence of infection, clot formation and death of skin tissue- possibly from the above factors and often this can create a higher susceptibility in smokers to ulcers, delayed growth of new skin tissue and finally, likelihood of genital warts and viral infections.

In the case of psoriasis, this tends to be more extensive and severe in smokers. A likely reason is due to the action of nicotine (in cigarettes) which binds to immune cells, changing their function and ability. Nicotine also binds to keratinocytes (skin cells) directly and helps them divide faster and move upward towards the skin surface, causing the apparent skin damage and aging which many smokers present with.

I can happily support your efforts to quit smoking for long-lasting health and skin benefits.



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