Link Between Smoking & Skin Problems

a woman's hand crushing cigarettes

Smoking & Skin Problems 

Cigarette smoking leads to a risk to overall health, which also includes the health of your skin. Cigarettes contain toxins that can lead to premature skin ageing and other skin conditions, including skin cancer. Many times you would have heard smoking is injurious to health. And if you already have any skin problems, smoking can worsen the symptoms of it.

If you smoke and find that your skin is suffering, make sure to talk to your doctor about ways you can manage your symptoms as well as the know-how to quit smoking. Many times, your skin may begin to heal once you quit smoking.

Smoking and Wrinkles 

Many people look older than their biological age due to signs of premature skin ageing such as wrinkles. Tobacco contains various chemicals, many of which can interfere with normal cellular processes in the skin. Smoking also makes blood vessels shrink, depriving your skin of nutrients and oxygen.

This combination can also cause the skin to lose its elasticity and premature ageing. As a result, smokers often have deep wrinkles around the eyebrows, corners of the eyes, lips, and mouth. Puffy eyes and changes in skin tone may accompany the development of wrinkles.

Once you've formed these new lines in your face, you can't magically get rid of them simply by quitting smoking. However, smoking cessation can at least make you less prone to additional premature skin ageing.

Smoking and Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are of a variety of forms, from basal cell carcinoma to life-threatening melanoma. Researchers have associated smoking with a particular type of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer.

The number of cigarettes smoked didn't seem to affect the risk level, hinting that any level of smoking increases the risk of cancer.

Smoking and Impaired Wound Healing

The skin has the ability to heal itself through a combination of blood clotting and tissue repair mechanisms. But smoking can get in the way of that self-repair process. As a result, smokers may have problems recovering from plastic surgery, surgery to remove skin cancers, or wounds sustained in accidents.

Tobacco products interfere with wound healing in different ways. The blood vessel containing tobacco can limit the number of healing nutrients that reach the damaged cells. Also, the Vitamin C that would normally help wound repair gets used by the body to fight tobacco-related cell damage.

Smoking can also reduce your immune system function, making it difficult for your body to fight off skin infections that may complicate wound healing.

If you need to have a suspicious skin lesion removed, or if you need a skin-tightening surgical procedure, your doctor will tell you to stop using any tobacco products prior to the surgery date.

Smoking and Eczema

Eczema can leave you with roughly defined patches of red, swollen, itchy, or blistered skin. Whatever is the underlying cause of your eczema, you'll find that smoking does no favours to your condition. The irritants in tobacco can activate eczema breakouts. Even second-hand smoke appears to increase the risk of such irritation.

Pregnant women, or those who are planning to become pregnant, already have enough reason to avoid or quit smoking. You might not realize, however, that smoking during pregnancy can increase the baby's risk of developing eczema. Babies who get second-hand smoke from their parents may also struggle with eczema.

Smoking and Psoriasis

Like eczema, psoriasis causes itchy, unattractive patches of irritated skin. Although scientists can't determine the exact cause of why some people get psoriasis and others don't, the problem seems to involve a combination of genetic factors, immune system abnormalities, and lifestyle or environmental factors.

Studies found that current and former smokers have more risk for developing the condition than lifelong nonsmokers, with the highest risk levels in people who had smoked for 30 years or longer. Smokers also acknowledged less success in psoriasis treatment than nonsmokers.

Fortunately, smoking cessation can help reverse this problem. It is found that people who gave up their smoking habit for 20 years reduced their risk of psoriasis to about the same level as the risk for nonsmokers.

How Quitting Tobacco Improves Your Skin?

If you're dealing with a skin condition related to smoking, you are much more likely to manage your symptoms better or even start recovering when you quit smoking.

By quitting, you'll lessen the inflammation of blood vessels that can cause many smoking-related skin problems. Your blood circulation and heart rate will be enhanced, as will the functioning of your heart and lungs. The return of normal blood flow will bring oxygen and nutrients to skin cells and your skin will appear healthier.

Overall, your body will start to heal itself and the ability to heal from wounds will improve, too.

People with acne with smoking habits generally have more affected areas of the body than people with no smoking habits. Similar results have been found for people with psoriasis and eczema as well.

Dermatologists advise their patients to quit smoking, regardless of whether they suffer from a skin condition or not, to avoid any potential damage that smoking can do to the skin.

Take Away

It may take some time, but the benefits to your overall health and well-being are worth the effort it takes to let you quit smoking. If you're having any problems, remember there are many ways that can help. Every day that passes without smoking is another day your skin has a chance to repair itself.