Skin-Deep Issues That Smoking Can Cause

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Smoking is one of the hardest habits to cut. While most people are afraid of lung cancer, there is more damage than tobacco smoke can have to your body. Lung cancer is hidden and will eat you up slowly, but your skin also gets affected. Studies have been done with identical twins, showing just how bad smoking can be for you. Unlike lung cancer, skin issues are visible, and everyone knows you are a smoker just by looking at you. If you are a smoker and do not want to stop, knowing about the effects might be a wake-up call for you. Here are the main issues that come about when you are a smoker, especially major implications on your skin if you are a smoker.

Premature Aging

One of the first and most severe skin symptoms caused by smoking is premature age. Chain smokers tend to notice a change in their skin looks and an earlier onset of wrinkles than any other person. The reason behind this is the toxins found in the cigarette damage the collagen and elastin in the skin, which are responsible for how the skin looks supple. When these concepts are destroyed, your skin hardens faster and causes you to look older than you are. You will notice wrinkles around your eyebrows and your mouth and lips. Your lips also form deep wrinkles based on how you pucker them when smoking.

Uneven Skin Pigment

Another thing you will notice when you are a chain smoker is that your skin begins to have different pigments. You might also notice that your fingertips start to yellow or darken based on the type of cigarettes you are using. The reason for the darker spots on your face is the extra melanin smoking adds to your skin.


Another skin condition caused by smoking is psoriasis. In the experiment “What smoking does to your skin” by Donath Facial Plastic surgery, smoking attacks the anti-inflammatory and immune system of your skin. Although psoriasis can occur in any other person, it is more prevalent in smokers. Psoriasis can get very chronic and leave behind scaly and itchy patches on your skin. The only way to ensure your skin gets better faster is to quit smoking since it reduces the rate of new cells.

Slower Wound Healing

Smoking makes it harder to heal when you get a wound. As Terry Martin explains, it could lead to very bad scarring. According to studies, the reason behind this is that nicotine causes vasoconstriction, which reduces the blood flow to the body. In turn, this means that nutrients cannot be transported adequately to all parts of the body, resulting in you not healing fast enough when you get a wound. Tobacco also reduces collagen formation. Collagen is a building block in your skin. Without it, your skin cannot regenerate, which affects your healing process.


Another impact of smoking on your body is vasculitis which is the narrowing of blood vessels. Due to this condition, your heart cannot adequately pump blood into the parts of the body. It, therefore, leads to vasculitis, which is also known as Buerger’s disease. Here are the major symptoms of this condition:

  • Painful sores on the fingers and tongues
  • Gangrene or skin decay
  • Pale, red, or bluish fingers and toes

Buerger’s disease is not curable, but there is medication to manage it or in severe cases.

Acne Inversa

Acne inversa, which is known as hidradenitis suppurativa, is a common inflammatory disease. It causes lesions in areas where the skin rubs against the skin. It is common in the armpits, groin, and under the breasts. It is one of the biggest risk factors of chain-smoking.


The thing about eczema and smoking is, it can also affect secondhand smokers. Smoking poses a risk factor for atopic dermatitis, which is one of the common types of eczema. Children born from smoking parents are also at a higher risk of getting eczema than those who have not.

Skin Cancer

Cigarette smoke has carcinogenic substances that cause carcinomas that are known to grow into cancer cells. These cells appear like rough or scaly patches on the skin. Many times these cells present themselves as lumps, open sores, or warts on the skin. If you have any of these symptoms, then you need to ensure your doctor knows about them. If they are not identified early enough, they might get serious and need more aggressive treatment procedures.

Other than skin cancer, there is also a high chance that you will develop oral cancer. Here are a couple of symptoms that would indicate you might have oral cancer:

  • A sore in the mouth
  • Difficulty when chewing
  • Sore throat
  • Loose teeth or pain in the teeth
  • Numbness in the mouth
  • Voice changes.

While the mouth might not be your skin, it is still one of the first areas that get affected when you have cancer, so knowing about but might go to lengths to ensure you get medical attention before things run out of hand.

Aggravates Other Skin Conditions

Other than causing various skin conditions, smoking also affects the other skin conditions that you might have. Here are the skin conditions that are made worse when you are smoking:

  • Cold sores. If you have any cold symptoms, smoking might make this condition worse and need more aggressive treatment.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the cells attack each other. It can lead to damage to your kidneys, heart, and other vital organs in the body. Smoking might hinder the medication you might be taking.
  • Rosacea and other vascular skin conditions. Rosacea causes and inflammation of blood vessels in the body. Since smoking affects your valves, the condition worsens when you smoke.

Smoking is a bad habit that might be hard to break. If you look at the side effects, you realize that it is not a habit you want to have for long. The best way around this is to quit smoking. Be intentional about quitting the habit and start by slowly cutting down the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day. After a while, you will be able to let go of the habit.