Why is smoking bad for the skin?

First, let’s start with the good news for all you smokers out there; If you stop smoking, the signs of aging can be greatly diminished! The body is such a great “machine” that it has the ability to “recover” itself! Even people who have smoked for many years, or smoked heavily at a younger age, show less facial wrinkling and improved skin tone when they quit smoking.

There are different kind of theories how smoking causes aging of the facial skin. Some say that smoking reduces vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin. Others claim that it narrows blood vessels, also know as vasoconstriction, which reduces blood supply to the skin.

I personally don’t like theories so much and I want to look at the facts. Facts are that that smoking cigarettes causes biochemical changes in our bodies that accelerate aging. Research shows that a person who smokes 10 or more cigarettes a day for a minimum of 10 years is statistically more likely to develop deeply wrinkled, leathery skin than a nonsmoker. It also has been shown that people who smoke for a number of years tend to develop an unhealthy yellowish hue to their complexion. An other study has shown that facial wrinkling, while not yet visible, can be seen under a microscope in smokers as young as 20.

Not only the skin of your face gets “damaged” but it also effects wound healing on your entire body. Your skin has more trouble with healing if you smoke. It increases the risk of wound infection, graft or flap failure, death of tissue and blood clot formation. This is because it delays the growth of new blood vessels within the wound and lack of oxygen reaching the skin cells.

Finally; If you are a smoker, you have twice the risk of developing a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma. There is also an increased risk of oral leukoplakia and oral cancer; 75% of cases of oral cancer occur in smokers.

Sources;
– Mills. Smoking and skin disease. International Journal Of Dermatology 1993,
– Kennedy et al. Effect of smoking and sun on the ageing skin. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2003.

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