A part from weakening the functionality of the lungs, smoking also has several harmful effects on the body and is hazardous for the heart and skin too. When one smokes, the combustion of dried tobacco leaves releases active substances into the lungs which is finally absorbed into the bloodstream. Research on the effect of smoking on health, also links skin damages with the habit of smoking. And apart from this, wrinkling of the skin and the ageing process too, gets affected by smoking.
The skin plays an important role in protecting our body from several microbes and also regulates body temperature. it is due to our skin that we can feel the sensation of heat, cold and touch. The skin is also the largest organ of the human body that covers a total area of about 20 square feet, so one should be mindful of the fact, that smoking can seriously damage this fastest growing organ, which the body is so dependent on.
Skin And Smoking
Smoking accelerates the ageing process and this is more so, in women.This means sagging, wrinkling, dryness, coarse texture and uneven colour at an early age. This effect means that by the age of 70 years, a smoker smoking 30 cigarettes a day, will have the skin of an 84 year old person!
Wound (and this includes surgical wounds) healing is delayed lithe patient is a smoker, There is also a higher risk of infection or the chance of a blood clot setting in. In cases of skin grafting and flap surgery, the risk of rejection and necrosis too increases significantly. Additionally, chronic leg ulcers are more common in diabetics who smoke compared to non-diabetic smokers.
Smoking Affects Skin Diseases
This skin disease is more common and more extensive in people who smoke. They also respond poorly to therapy. A variant of psoriasis called pustular psoriasis of the palms and sole shows a stronger association with smoking. Women who smoke regularly have a 74 times higher risk of getting it compared to women who don’t smoke.
There are many things that go into making a cigarette and it is not uncommon to see cases of dermatitis of the hands, face and neck which are due to allergy (contact dermatitis) to some of these substances.
The incidence of lupus erythematosus involving the skin (cutaneous LE) as well as systemic LE involving various internal organs is more in smokers. Such people also respond less satisfactorily to some of the medicines used for treating these conditions.
There are many other skin disorders which are significantly more common and show more severe manifestations in smokers like hidradenitis suppurativa, Buerger’s disease, certain diseases involving lips, gums, tongues etc.
Smoking And Skin Cancer
Smokers suffer from a pre-cancer condition in the mouth (leukoplakia) as well as cancers in the mouth, more commonly. It is shown that 75 per cent of cases of cancers in the mouth are seen in those who smoke. In contrast, the association between smoking and cancers on skin is not so clear though one study shows an association between smoking and a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Diseases That Improve With Smoking
In a twist of events, aphthous ulcers in mouth and a severe form with other system involvement (Behcet’s disease) are less common in smokers and tend to improve with smoking/nicotine patches. But this does not qualify as a reason to be recommended by doctors as a treatment option – just like alcohol consumption cannot be recommended to treat sleeplessness!
Smoking And Medicines
Smoking causes a type of liver enzyme called CYP 1A2 to get more active. This enzyme causes degradation of certain medicines and substances. These include insulin, pain relievers, antipsychotics, anticoagulants, caffeine and alcohol, As a result, smokers need more amount of medicine to get the same result compared to non-smokers. And those who take alcohol and caffeine need to be careful and should reduce the intake of these when they stop smoking to avoid the risk of toxicity. With regard to the facts mentioned here, it is quite obvious that the skin is affected by smoking in a significant way. Moreover, besides being adverse to the skin, smoking can be the reason for several health disorders and therefore, needs to be avoided to ensure ones well-being.