What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the effects of smoking on your skin? Wrinkles are probably the first thing that comes to mind for most of us, and with good reason. Toxins in cigarette smoke can harm collagen and elastin, the fibrous components of skin that keep it firm and supple.
Smokers are more likely to develop wrinkles on their faces and bodies as a result of this damage, which accelerates skin aging. Cigarette smoke also harms the skin in other ways, affecting one’s appearance and endangering the lives of smokers.
What Are the Effects of Smoking into Your Skin?
Premature Facial Skin Aging
The vertical wrinkles around the mouth that result from repeatedly pursing lips to draw on a cigarette are known as “smoker’s lines.” Crow’s feet are a type of wrinkling that appears around the eyes’ outer edges. This damage occurs much earlier in smokers than in non-smokers, who develop crow’s feet as they age.
Damage to collagen and elastin, as previously stated, is a major factor in skin premature aging. However, smoking-induced vascular constriction plays a role as well. Skin aging is caused by constricted blood vessels that prevent blood and oxygen from reaching skin cells.
Sagging skin in other parts of the body can be caused by smoking-related skin damage. The loss of skin elasticity caused by smoking is particularly noticeable in the breasts and upper arms.
If you smoke, your chances of getting squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are up to 52 percent higher than if you don’t. This is the second most common type of skin cancer, and it frequently appears on smokers’ lips.
The increased risk, according to researchers, stems from a weakened immune system caused by the toxins in cigarette smoke. The most common type of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, has no known risk factors.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes scaly, itchy patches on the skin. It can be triggered by stress, but smoking is also a risk factor. Palmoplantar pustulosis is a type of psoriasis that is more common in smokers.
The nicotine in cigarettes is thought to be the link between psoriasis and smoking, according to doctors. Nicotine has an impact on the immune system, skin inflammation, and skin cell growth, all of which can contribute to psoriasis development. It’s also possible that the stress-relieving techniques used by smokers (such as cigarettes) put them at a higher risk of developing psoriasis.
Smoking almost doubles a person’s chance of getting psoriasis, with the risk increasing with the number of cigarettes smoked. Women who smoke 20 or more cigarettes per day are twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop psoriasis. Men face a risk that is slightly more than one-and-a-half times that of non-smokers.
Toxins in cigarette smoke cause vascular constriction, which makes wound healing more difficult. The body’s ability to heal is slowed by a lack of blood flow.
Because of the negative impact cigarette toxins have on healing, most doctors will strongly advise, if not require, smoking patients to quit before undergoing surgery. Infections, skin graft failure, tissue death, and blood clot formation are all increased by smoking.
Scarring is also more visible. Smoking has also been linked to the development of stretch marks, which are scarring caused by rapid weight gain.
Hidradenitis suppurativa, also known as acne inversa, is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects people in areas where skin rubs against skin, such as the armpits, groin, and under the breasts in women.
Acne inversa causes boil-like nodules that drain pus and is frequently misdiagnosed. It is a painful condition that can last for months or even years. Cigarette smoking increases the risk of acne inversa.
Buerger’s disease is a type of vasculitis that is more common in smokers. Inflammated blood vessels in some part of the body characterize all types of vasculitis.
The blood flow to the hands and feet is affected by Buerger’s disease. Pain and tissue damage result when blood vessels in these areas become constricted or blocked. The skin of the fingers and toes can become ulcerated in severe cases of Buerger’s disease. The appendage may eventually succumb to gangrene (tissue death) and be lost.
Telangiectasia is a condition in which the capillary walls of small blood vessels in the body widen or dilate, causing damage. It can happen anywhere, but it’s most noticeable close to the skin’s surface, where permanent purple blotches or vein traces may appear (also known as spider veins).
A risk factor for telangiectasia is smoking. Tobacco contains nicotine, which constricts blood vessels, causing damage that leads to this condition.
Skin Tone and Staining
Smokers’ skin tone can be uneven and off-kilter, leaning toward an orange or grey hue. Lack of oxygen to skin cells, as well as the negative effects of numerous other chemicals in tobacco, are likely factors. Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, including 250 poisonous chemicals and 70 cancer-causing chemicals.
Years of holding cigarettes between the same fingers can cause skin to turn yellow due to nicotine and other toxins found in cigarettes, also known as tar. With soap and water, this type of staining is nearly impossible to remove. The only way to truly get rid of it is to stop smoking and avoid holding cigarettes.
How Giving Up Smoking Benefits Your Skin
When you quit smoking, what changes can you expect to see in your skin? While wrinkles may not completely disappear, the restoration of normal blood flow to skin cells will deliver oxygen and nutrients to where they are needed, restoring your skin’s health. Collagen and elastin production will improve as toxins in cigarettes are no longer a hindrance.
Tar stains will fade over time as well. When you stop smoking, your risk of developing skin-related illnesses decreases as well.
Because it is often that noticeable, friends and family will likely comment on the healthy glow you seem to have acquired since quitting tobacco. Although it will take some time, the benefits to your health and well-being will be palpable and well worth the effort required to quit.