Five Harmful Effects Of Smoking On Your Skin

  • Posted by: Dr. Milan Doshi
  • Category: Skin Treatment
effects of smoking on skin

You have been hearing this lot like ‘smoking is injurious to health or ‘this ad in no way promotes or encourages smoking’. This is not a myth but based upon actual facts that smoking really does some serious damage to your health including your skin too! In this article, we will explore in ways which smoking impacts your skin.

1. Premature wrinkles/early aging

Our skin has elastin and collagen which are the two very important components that keep our skin firm and tight. The problem with cigarettes is that it has certain chemicals that these chemicals are very much unstable so they just start to damage the collagen and elastin which leads to reduced elasticity thus your wrinkles start to appear more and get worse, especially in areas such as between the brows, around the eyes and also the area around your lips. One of the chemicals is Nicotine which narrows down your blood vessels thus restricting blood flow and leading to less delivery of oxygen as well as nutrients to your skin. It also elevates the production of free radicals in our body in addition to reducing the levels of Vitamin A. There are also chances of developing vertical lines around our mouth due to the pursing of lips around the cigarette.

2. Skin pigmentation

The lack of blood supply to our skin causes yellow patches to appear along with uneven skin tone. The skin also loses its shine and starts to appear dull. Other changes which appear on the skin are our lips which may darken and also appear black/purple/dark brown etc due to hyperpigmentation which is due to increased production of melanin due to nicotine. The development of yellow patches may be attributed due to the presence of tar, nicotine, and other chemicals in the cigarette which may further to our fingers stained with tar and appear yellowish in the nails. There might be also sagging of our skin, especially under the eyes and the jawline.

3. Acne inversa

There are more chances of developing acne inversa or also known as Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS). The precise reason why this happens is unknown but researchers believe that smoking has a role to play in it. There is the development of bumps that may get inflamed and additional conditions such as the formation of tunnels called sinus tracts can form which join individual bumps. The bumps can also get infected and thus pus can accumulate in them, thus also becoming itchy and irritated. In serious cases, these bumps fail to heal completely.

4. Worsening of pre-existing skin conditions

Smoking can aggravate your pre-existing skin conditions such as rosacea, cold sores, or auto-immune diseases. In the case of psoriasis, the presence of nicotine in cigarette smoke causes changes in skin proliferation, skin inflammation, and thus the immune system thus increasing the breakouts of psoriasis. It also causes palmoplantar pustulosis, delayed wound healing which in serious cases can progress towards leg ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, arterial ulcers, and calciphylaxis. Smoking also elevates the possibility of developing infections such as bacterial infection due to staphylococcus aureus and staphylococcus pyrogens or in case of fungal infection due to candida Albicans or in case of viral infection genital warts due to human papillomavirus (HPV).

5. Skin cancer

Smoke in cigarettes also contains substances that cause cancer or ‘carcinogens’. These substances can cause squamous cell carcinoma which is a type of skin cancer that is recognized by the presence of rough or scaly, red/brown colored patches or wart-like growths on the skin.