Smoking Can Damage Your Skin, Your total health, including the condition of your skin, is at stake if you smoke cigarettes. Toxins included in cigarettes have been linked to skin cancer, other skin disorders, and early aging. Smoking might exacerbate the symptoms of any existing skin conditions.
Speak to your doctor about strategies to treat your symptoms and resources to stop smoking if you smoke and notice that your skin is deteriorating. Once you stop, your skin may frequently start to mend itself.
1. Early Aging and Premature Wrinkles
Collagen and elastin, the fiber elements of your skin that make it strong and supple, are damaged by the chemicals in cigarette smoke. Without them, your skin could stiffen and become less elastic, which would cause deeper wrinkles and early aging.
Between your brows, around your eyes, and around your mouth and lips, these wrinkles are typically the most obvious on your face. Smoking can also result in drooping skin, especially around the jawline and beneath the eyes.
Wrinkling typically begins for smokers significantly earlier than it does for non-smokers.
Smoking accelerates the aging process because it decreases vitamin A levels in the skin, promotes the formation of free radicals, and narrows blood vessels, which reduces the quantity of oxygen your skin receives.
Additionally, smoking cigarettes with your lips pursed increases the risk of developing vertical lines around the mouth.
2. Skin Pigmentation
Smoking increases the amount of melanin in the skin, which may result in dark patches, particularly on the face. Holding cigarettes between the same fingers over and over can cause the nicotine and other poisons in cigarettes to cause some skin tones to turn yellow (commonly referred to as tar).
According to research, those who smoke and have tear-stained fingertips are more prone to get smoking-related ailments.
3. Wound Healing
Vascular constriction brought on by smoking reduces the body’s capacity to circulate blood and slows wound healing.
When you smoke, even small wounds and scrapes may take longer to heal correctly. Smoking may increase your risk of developing scarring from these tiny wounds.
Because smoking slows the healing of a skin incision, most doctors encourage their patients to give up smoking before surgery.
A long-term inflammatory skin disorder called psoriasis causes scaly, itchy areas on the skin. Psoriasis may appear violet or dark brown with grey scales on people with dark skin tones. It might have silvery scales and a red or pink appearance on light skin tones.
Psoriasis is more likely to develop in those who smoke. According to one study, persons who smoked more frequently had a higher risk of developing psoriasis.
Nicotine in cigarettes may be the cause of the association between psoriasis and smoking. Nicotine has an impact on skin inflammation, the immune system, and skin cell development, all of which can lead to the onset of psoriasis.
Smokers are also more likely to get the painful blister condition known as palmoplantar pustulosis, which affects the hands and feet. It is a chronic inflammatory condition similar to psoriasis.
5. Acne Inversa
Acne inversa often referred to as hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), is a moderately common inflammatory skin condition where lesions appear in places on the body where skin rubs against skin, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts.
According to one study, the highest environmental risk factor for getting acne inversa is smoking.
Blood arteries in autoimmune illnesses such as vasculitis narrow and inflamed, making it more difficult for the body to supply blood to the heart and other organs.
According to research, smoking greatly increases your risk of developing Buerger’s disease, a form of vasculitis.
Symptoms of Buerger’s disease include:
- fingers or toes that are pale, crimson, or bluish
- finger or toe sores that hurt
- gangrene or tissue damage (tissue decay)
- Additionally, you can feel pain in your legs, ankles, feet, or hands, as well as freezing hands or feet.
Almost everyone diagnosed with Buerger’s disease smokes cigarettes or uses other forms of tobacco, such as cigars and chewing tobacco.
Buerger’s disease cannot be cured, however, it can be controlled with medicine or surgery.
7. Palmar Telangiectasia
When small blood capillaries in the body enlarge or dilate, it damages capillary walls and is referred to as telangiectasia (also known as “spider veins”). It is most obvious when it is close to the skin’s surface, where you could see vein traces or persistent purple patches.
The condition known as palmar telangiectasia, which only affects the palms of the hands, has been linked to smoking. Smoking can cause this illness because the nicotine in cigarettes narrows blood vessels.
According to one study, of 30 current smokers, 50% of them exhibited palmar telangiectasia, and of 16 former smokers, 31.2 percent had as well.
Additionally, smoking increases the likelihood of developing hand eczema and atopic dermatitis, the most prevalent types of eczema. Dry, itchy skin patches are the first sign of eczema. Light skin tones see it as red, whereas dark skin tones see it as brown.
Hand eczema is more likely to occur in people who are exposed to secondhand smoke. According to one study, teenagers who were exposed to secondhand smoking had a higher risk of acquiring atopic skin diseases including eczema.
9. Skin Cancer
Carcinogens, or compounds that cause cancer, are present in cigarette smoke. You run a higher chance of getting the skin cancer squamous cell carcinoma if you smoke.
On your skin, squamous cell carcinoma may appear as rough or scaly patches, elevated lumps, open sores, or growths that resemble warts. Dark skin tones may have brown growths, while light skin tones may have red growths. If you notice any abnormal textures on your skin, including those described above, let your doctor know.
The most frequent risk factor for oral squamous cell carcinoma, a specific type of mouth cancer, is tobacco smoking. If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, which could be an indication of oral cancer, be careful to contact your doctor right away:
- A sore or lump on the lip or mouth
- Pain in the mouth
- White or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth
- Sore throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Trouble chewing
- Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
- Numbness of the mouth
- Loose teeth or pain around the teeth
- Voice changes
- A lump or mass in the neck or throat
- Weight loss
- Ear pain
10. Worsening Existing Skin Conditions
Smoking can exacerbate the signs of any of these skin conditions:
- Lupus erythematosus systemic (autoimmune disease)
- Vascular skin disorders (such as rosacea)
- oral ailments (such as cold sores)
How Quitting Tobacco Improves Your Skin
When you stop smoking, your chances of better managing your symptoms or perhaps beginning to recover if you have a skin problem brought on by smoking increase significantly.
By giving up, you’ll lessen the blood vessel irritation that causes many skin disorders linked to smoking. Your heart and lungs will operate better, as will your circulation and heart rate. The skin might start to look better as soon as the blood flow returns to normal since it will provide oxygen and nutrients to skin cells.
Your body will begin to mend itself overall. capacity to recover from injuries will also increase.
In one study, participants’ skin darkened and dark spots disappeared many weeks after they stopped smoking.
Smokers who have acne inversa typically have more body parts impacted than acne inversa sufferers who don’t smoke. Psoriasis and eczema sufferers have also been found to have similar results.
To ameliorate symptoms and slow the disease’s course, doctors advise persons with Buerger’s disease to stop smoking.
Whether or not a patient has a skin disease, dermatologists are encouraged to counsel them to give up smoking in order to prevent any potential harm that smoking can cause to the skin.
Mental Health Considerations
In particular, when their condition’s symptoms worsen, people with skin diseases may experience poor self-esteem, self-consciousness, anxiety, and/or depression.
Be sure to ask your doctor for assistance if you have any mental health problems as a result of your skin disease.
A mental health specialist who can support you can be recommended by your doctor.
People with skin diseases like psoriasis have been proven to benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
By addressing the underlying feelings you have about your disease, this emotion-based treatment may help you enhance your quality of life and cultivate a more optimistic view.
A Word From Verywell
Although quitting smoking may take some time, the advantages to your health and wellbeing make the effort worthwhile. Keep in mind that there are numerous options available if you need assistance. To quit smoking, try contacting a support group in your area or downloading a phone app. Every day you refrain from smoking gives your skin an opportunity to heal itself.