Cigarette smoking is known to have catastrophic effects on smokers in terms of their general health, particularly when it comes to skin healthiness. Usually, cigarettes contain harmful and toxic substances associated with causing premature aging and, at times, even skin cancer. Additionally, smoking can lead to worsening skin conditions in people.
If you are currently smoking and begin to notice signs of your skin suffering, you should talk to your doctor about ways of managing the symptoms and get on a plan to quit smoking; by doing so, your skin can naturally begin to heal itself.
Smoking has myriads of effects on your skin, and they include the following.
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1. Early Aging
Cigarettes are made up of harmful toxins that cause severe damage to collagen and elastin, and these are the fibrous components that keep the skin firm and supple. The skin becomes less elastic and hardens if these components are damaged, ultimately leading to deeper wrinkles and premature aging.
Typically, wrinkles are very noticeable on your face, and they manifest between the eyebrows, around the eyes, and the mouth and lips. Furthermore, smoking goes beyond causing the sagging of the skin under your eyes and the jawline area.
Premature aging also becomes inevitable for smokers since it leads to the narrowing of the blood vessels, limiting the amount of oxygen supplied to your skin. As a result, it leads to the production of free radicals, thus reducing vitamin A levels in the skin. Vertical wrinkles may begin to develop around the mouth area due to enclosing your lips around a cigarette. There are several differences between a smokers and a non-smokers face.
2. Skin Pigmentation
Smoking leads to increased melanin in the skin, and as a result, there is the appearance of dark spots on the face. When you repeatedly hold the cigarette between the same fingers, it leads to the yellowing of the area around the fingers due to the nicotine present in the cigarette. Research has identified that smokers with tear-stained fingers are more likely to suffer from smoking illnesses.
3. Slower Wound Healing
Smoking further leads to vascular constriction – a condition that significantly hinders the body from efficiently circulating blood and, therefore, it becomes harder to heal from wounds.
If you smoke, you may find it difficult to heal from minor cuts and take a considerable amount of time to heal well. You might as well develop scars from the cuts, which wouldn’t be the case for a nonsmoker. In most cases, doctors may advise you to quit smoking before performing any surgical operation since smoking hinders the healing of an incision in the skin.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that results in itchy and scaly patches on the skin. Usually, Psoriasis manifests as violet or dark brown with grey scales in people with darker skin tones. For those with a lighter skin complexion, Psoriasis manifests itself as red or pink with silvery scales. Research has proven that smoking is indeed a risk factor for you to develop Psoriasis.
Nicotine present in cigarettes is the main link to Psoriasis, for its adverse effects on the immune system, growth of the skin cells, and skin inflammation which lead to the occurrence of Psoriasis.
5. Skin Cancer
Cigarettes contain cancer-causing components such as carcinogens. People who smoke are at a higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a lethal type of skin cancer. The squamous cell carcinoma may manifest as rough or scaly patches, open sores, raised lumps, or wart-like growths.
Tobacco has been researched to cause a type of oral cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma and can manifest itself in the following symptoms:
- Sores on the lips
- Trouble swallowing
- Numbness of the mouth
- A lump in the neck
- Colored spots on the tongue
6. Palmar Telangiectasia
Telangiectasia is a condition that results in the small blood vessels in the body dilating and causing damage to the capillary walls. Usually, the condition manifests close to the skin surface and can be visible as permanent purple scars or traces of veins.
Mostly, Palmar telangiectasia appears on the palm of the hands and is caused by nicotine since it leads to constriction of blood vessels. Studies show that most smokers, either currently smoking or used to smoke, have Palmar telangiectasia.
Vasculitis is an autoimmune condition that leads to the narrowing and inflaming of the blood vessels, making it extremely difficult for the body to circulate blood to the heart or other organs.
Research has shown that smoking exposes you to higher risks of Buerger’s disease, a type of vasculitis. However, it’s important to note that Buerger’s disease has no cure and can only be managed by medication or surgery The disease has symptoms such as:
- Pale, reddish, or blue fingers
- Painful sores on fingers or toes
Additionally, you may suffer from cold hands or feet.
8. Worsening Existing Skin Conditions
Smoking is known to increase the severity of various skin conditions. It’s therefore advisable to avoid or quit smoking if you have the following skin conditions:
- Oral conditions such as cold sores
- Vascular skin conditions, for example, rosacea
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
For those coping with skin conditions related to smoking, you’ll be much more likely to manage the condition if you quit smoking. Quitting is essential in minimizing the inflammation of blood vessels, which are the leading causes of skin-related ailments. In addition, it helps to improve the body’s circulation, heart rate, and the operation of your lungs, thus regulating the progression of skin-damaging conditions. The return of normal blood flow nourishes your skin with nutrients to the skin cells, and your skin begins the recovery journey.
People who have acne inversa and are smoking tend to have more areas that are affected by smoking compared to those with the condition and don’t smoke. This as well applies to Psoriasis and eczema cases.
It is recommended that you stop smoking whether or not you have a skin condition to steer clear of all other damages related to smoking and lead a life free of anxiety and low self-esteem caused by skin conditions.
You may also read: How to Maintain Youthful and Healthy Skin