If you’re a smoker, smoking cessation should be your top priority because cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable death in North America. Smoking is associated with multiple health conditions including: cancer, cardiovascular disease and lung disease. In addition to these diseases, smoking also causes skin damage. When doctors are explaining all of the damage that smoking causes in an attempt to get their patients to quit smoking, they should not forgot to mention skin damage. Skin damage is visible to patients which makes it easy to understand and may aid with smoking cessation. If you’re trying to quit smoking, the damage that smoking does to your skin is yet another reason for you to put that cigarette down.
The Damage Smoking Causes
1. Poor wound healing – in order for tissue to heal, it requires oxygen. Smoking causes vasoconstriction (tightening) of the blood vessels that supply the skin. This results in decreased blood flow, in turn leading to decreased oxygenation of the skin. Decreased oxygenation leads to slower repair of tissue damage.
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2. Wrinkles and Sagging Skin – smoking speeds up the normal aging process because of decreased oxygen to the skin which can lead to wrinkles and skin sagging. This damage can be seen in the face, particularly around the eyes and lips and in other body parts such as the inner arms and breasts. The chemicals that are found in cigarettes can also cause collagen and elastin damage. Collagen and elastin are responsible for keeping the skin strong and elastic.
3. Poor skin tone – because your skin is deprived of oxygen, it can affect the tone of your skin. Many smokers appear pale while others have uneven skin tone.
4. Discolouration of Fingers –fingers may become stained from the tobacco in cigarettes over time.
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5. Psoriasis – there is a positive association between smoking and the development of psoriasis. Psoriasis causes dry, scaly patches on skin surfaces (usually the elbows, knees, scalp, hands, feet and/or back)
There is good news – if you quit smoking, you can improve your appearance! With smoking cessation, there is improved blood flow to the skin which means your skin will get the oxygen and nutrients that it needs. Ex-smokers can use creams that contain antioxidants to help improve the existing skin damage. There are also cosmetic procedures that can be done to help with the skin damage that occurred as the result of smoking. However, these procedures are dramatic and quite costly so home cream remedies may be the best option for most people.
Smoking and the Aging Process
Among all of the health conditions that can be attributed to smoking, it also speeds up the aging process, making you look older before your time. If all of the health risks don’t scare you enough to quit smoking perhaps old-looking, wrinkly, sagging skin will make you think twice about quitting. In addition to skin damage that occurs from smoking, damage to your hair and teeth can also add years to how you look. If you’ve decided to quit smoking there are many resources available for smoking cessation. Speak with your medical professional to learn about smoking cessation programs and medications available.