The skin is the most affected by toxic environmental agents such as dust, sun and smoke. If you smoke, you already know that you need to quit. It is obvious, even the manufacturers keep reminding you that smoking is dangerous to your health. So let’s talk about the less spoken about health effects of cigarette smoking. Let’s talk about how smoking affects your skin. What are the effects of smoking on skin?
Smoking and Skin
Cigarette smoking affects nearly every organ in your body. It causes many diseases and reduces the health of smokers in general. Heart diseases and lung cancer are the commonly known health effects of smoking. While the heart and lungs are the most affected organs, there are other less known effects such as those on the skin. Smoking greatly alters your personal appearance by changing your skin.
Usually, effects of smoking on the skin are not life-threatening save for serious skin effects such as psoriasis and squamous cell carcinoma. It is my hope that this write up creates an awareness on skin changes due to smoking and hopefully motivate someone to quit.
Here are some statistics:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC, In the US alone, cigarette smoking causes more than 480000 deaths each year.
In the England, one-third of deaths from respiratory disorders are attributed to cigarette smoking. (Action of Smoking and Health)
Recent statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that over 8 billion cigarette sticks are smoked in Kenya every year
I know most smokers will think about these numbers and the obvious health risks of smoking. However, not many people think about cosmetic effects of puffing. Your eyes, your teeth, and your skin. How does smoking affect your skin? Which is exactly why I am writing this today.
Effects of Smoking on Skin- How does Smoking affect your Skin?
The effects of smoking on the skin may sound too superficial and not as threatening compared to those of the lungs and the heart. However, they are the most notable effects as the changes on your complexion and tone are affected. Here is more on How Smoking Affects your Skin
Aging- How Smoking Affects Skin
Smoking is making your skin age faster. The chemicals absorbed by the body through smoking cause your skin to age faster. Nicotine impairs blood supply to the skin due to constriction of blood vessels. Sufficient nourishment is what gives you that glow. Impaired blood supply to your skin results in the dull, dry and saggy skin. Your skin may appear coarse with an uneven skin tone. For most smokers, their skin tone gradually changes to a muted orange or grey tinge.
Skin tone and color changes- Smoking Effects on Skin color
Your blood and skin cells are renewed to replace old, damaged and dead ones. The new cells are what gives you the healthy tone and glow. Smoking causes your body to produce fewer new cells. Your skin will start to lose its glow changing your tone and with time your natural color.
Nicotine from cigarette smoking constricts blood vessels in the outer layers of the skin. This cuts off blood supply hence oxygen and nutrients. This results in the development of fine lines and wrinkles. The physical act of smoking will in itself cause wrinkles on the lips and around the mouth.
Lip puckering while smoking will exacerbate the formation of wrinkles around your mouth, eyes, and forehead.
Smoking and Wound Healing
The constituents of cigarette smoke particularly nicotine, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide have documented effects. These suggest the potential ways by which smoking may interfere with wound repair.
Nicotine constricts blood vessels and reduces blood supply to the skin. This results in ischemia and poor wound healing. The production of cells such as red blood cells and macrophages is reduced by nicotine.
Carbon monoxide reduces oxygen transport and inhibits mechanisms necessary for the nourishment of the skin. Hydrogen cyanide, on the other hand, inhibits important functions of enzymes and oxidative processes in the cells.
Slow or poor wound healing is observed in smokers with wounds from injury, surgical procedures, and disease. This is of particular importance in patients who are undergoing surgery as they have a higher risk of poor outcome and complications.
Cigarette Smoking makes Psoriasis Worse
A chronic skin condition characterized by dry, scaly, skin patches with a build-up of skin cells. It is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack the normal tissues. Studies show that smoking exacerbates existing psoriasis. Smoking does not cause psoriasis but rather triggers the disease in those who are genetically predisposed to it.
Cigarette Smoking causes Dark Lips
Constant exposure to heat from cigarette smoking alters the pigmented of lips from an attractive pink to dark and dry. That is why sometimes it is so easy to tell a smoker by looking at their lips.
Chronic Skin Infections
Smoking makes your skin vulnerable to a variety of skin problems such as chronic lesions. Nicotine affects the body’s immune system. The skin is part of this immune system and acts as an external barrier to disease-causing organisms. You will end up with frequent appearance of lesions that easily get infected.
Smoking and Skin cancer
In addition to lung cancer, smoking also increases your risk of developing skin cancer. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, smoking boosts your risk of getting squamous cell carcinoma by 52%.
Smoking as a risk factor does not mean that you will definitely get cancer. Most people who smoke may never get it. Still, it is important to know that smoking definitely puts you at a higher risk and that quitting can do much in lowering your risks.
Other risk factors for Skin Cancer include:
- Exposure to Ultra Violet Light
- Old Age
- Exposure to certain chemical such as arsenic
- Having a light skin complexion
- Chronic or severe inflammation of the skin
- Human papillomavirus infection
- Previous skin cancer
- Impaired immunity
Does quitting Smoking Help your Skin?
You must be wondering whether it is possible to reverse the effects of smoking on the skin. There longer you smoke, the more profound the damage and the longer time it takes to recover. Once you stop smoking, it takes up to one month for you to see positive skin changes. It takes some time for your skin cells to renew. However, you have to the extra mile to make those fine lines and wrinkles to go away.
The moment you make that decision to quit is in itself a big step towards recovery and great skin health. That in itself is enough to make big improvements on the appearance of your skin.
Smokers Skin Repair
Here are things you can do to undo the effects of smoking on your skin.
Improve your eating habits. Eat foods rich in vitamins A and C as they are very beneficial for skin health. These will help to rejuvenate skin cells and also protect the skin from harsh environmental conditions that encourage premature aging. These foods include broccoli, carrots, citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables.
Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
Take vitamin supplements to make sure you are getting adequate amounts. These vitamins will help to repair damaged skin.
Pay your Dermatologist a Visit
Skin damage such as wrinkling and breakouts can be taken care of at the dermatologist’s. There are many treatments to reduce the appearance of wrinkles such as dermal fillers, chemical peels, and dermabrasion. Consult a licensed and experienced professional to understand the various procedures available. He will be able to advise on the best options depending on the degree of skin damage.
Note that wrinkling is not entirely caused by cigarette smoking. There are plenty of other reasons that need to be addressed in your smoker’s skin repair journey.
While we cannot avoid these visible signs of aging (save for when we cosmetic fixes) cigarette smoking makes them worse.
Adopt a Good Skin Care Routine
Cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize your skin regularly. Clean your face with a deep pore cleanser. Exfoliate to remove the accumulation of dead skin cells to reveal the growth of new healthy and glowing skin cells. Moisturize daily to keep your skin hydrated and supple.
DO NOT forget to use sunscreen.
Invest in good anti-aging products with antioxidants.
What does Smoking Weed do to your Skin?
Studies show that, unlike tobacco, the ingredients in cannabis may offer benefits for skin health. There is contracting info on the credibility of skin benefits from smoking weed. Bottom line is… as long as you are producing and inhaling smoke, effects on the skin are inevitable.
The effects of smoking on the skin may not be obvious until after you’ve smoked for a long period of time. As soon as you quit, your skin starts a process of self-healing.