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Effects of Smoking on Skin


If not for other reasons, avoid smoking as it damages the appearance of your skin. Skin damaged by smoke has a grayish, wasted appearance.

Studies on effects of Smoking on skin:

A South Korean study of smokers, non-smokers and ex-smokers aged 20 to 69 found that the current smokers had a higher degree of facial wrinkling than non-smokers and ex-smokers. Past smokers, who smoked heavily at a younger age revealed less facial wrinkling than current smokers. Recent research has shown that the skin ageing effects of smoking may be due to increased production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen in the skin. Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin which maintains skin elasticity.

The Chief Medical Officer highlighted the link between smoking and wrinkled, damaged skin, in his 2003 annual report. The report noted that smokers' skin can get prematurely aged by 10 to 20 years and, although the damaging effects of cigarette smoke on the skin are irreversible, further deterioration can be avoided by quitting smoking.

Study Findings:

In a nutshell, the skin is affected by tobacco smoke in the following ways:

  • Firstly, tobacco smoke released into the environment has a drying effect on the skin's surface.
  • Secondly, because smoking restricts blood vessels, it reduces the amount of blood flowing to the skin, thus depleting the skin of oxygen and essential nutrients.
  • Smoking reduces the body's store of Vitamin A, which provides protection against some skin-damaging agents produced by smoking.
  • The creasing of the mouth when drawing on a cigarette can cause wrinkling around the eyes and mouth.
  • The more a person smokes, the greater the risk of premature wrinkling.
  • Smokers in their 40s often have as many facial wrinkles as non-smokers in their 60s.
  • Smokers' may also develop hollow cheeks through repeated sucking on cigarettes. This is particularly evident in under-weight smokers and can cause smokers to look gaunt.
  • Prolonged smoking causes discoloration of the fingers and fingernails on the hand used to hold cigarettes.
  • Smoking also results in a yellowing of the teeth and is a cause of halitosis or bad breath.

Smoking and Psoriasis

Smokers have a two to threefold higher risk of developing psoriasis, a chronic skin condition. It is not life-threatening, but can be extremely painful and disfiguring. Some researches have found a dose-response association of smoking and psoriasis that means the risk of the disease increases if the person continues to smoke. Smoking also appears to be more strongly associated with psoriasis among women than among men. Smoking may cause as many as one quarter of all psoriasis cases and may also contribute to as many as half of the cases of palmoplantar pustulosis, a skin disease involving the hands and feet, which is a form of psoriasis.

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