How Smoking Damages Your Skin

If the ill effects of smoking were obvious on your face every time you looked in the mirror, would you smoke? If after every cigarette you smoked you could see fine lines, wrinkles, and red capillaries developing on your face, would you still continue to smoke? Perhaps if the signs were noticeably visible immediately, nobody would. Perhaps people would think twice about lighting up or buying another packet. Although the results are not immediately apparent, the effects on the skin are cumulative and lifelong.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body and smoking cigarettes negatively affects your health. Here are a few of the side effects of smoking and your skin.

Poor Skin Health

Smoking causes the blood vessels to become thinner which means a reduced volume of blood can flow through them. Additionally, nutrients and oxygen levels in the blood are also lower. These factors greatly impact skin health.

A smoker’s body suffers from poor circulation and a decreased amount of oxygen in the blood. Oxygen and other blood-borne nutrients are essential for maintaining cellular health in the whole body, including the skin. A smoker is more prone to suffer from poor wound healing. This is due to poor blood circulation and a lack of oxygen required for the skin healing process. The skin tone may appear paler or grayish. Poor skin health becomes obvious as facial wrinkles and other signs of premature aging develop. Wrinkles or cigarette lines can be seen around a smoker’s mouth and are caused by the constant pursing of the lips.

Wrinkles and Signs of Premature Aging

Although excess sun exposure is known to be one of the biggest contributors to skin aging, cigarette smoking is another huge contributing factor. Research reveals that smoking causes the skin to age faster than exposure to sunlight. One sign of skin aging is the presence of wrinkles. Wrinkling occurs as a result of damaged skin components that include elastin and collagen.

Numerous studies provide evidence that proves that heavy smokers have more wrinkles than those people who smoke occasionally or not at all. A very telling study was conducted in which participants were asked to judge the age of individuals who were smokers and non-smokers just by looking at their photographs. The results showed that smokers were usually judged older than their actual age, and non-smokers were often judged younger than their real age.

Changes in Skin Tissue Composition

Smoking can lead to rapid changes in the composition of the skin’s tissues. A study showed that smokers face a higher risk of suffering from elastosis which refers to a condition in which the elasticity of the skin is lost due to rapid degeneration of the skin’s connective tissues.

Through computer-assisted analysis, experts were also able to confirm that elastosis among smokers is greater and more severe, compared to the level of elastosis among non-smokers. In addition, smokers are also more likely to experience telangiectasia. This condition is characterized by fine red lines which occur when the small blood vessels of the skin dilate. The likelihood of having elastosis or telangiectasia increases in line with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.

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