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Smoking and your skin

Everyone knows that smoking is bad for your health – bad for your heart, your lungs, social life – yet people still smoke…

Other than the well documented dangers of smoking, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t smoke, but perhaps if you knew how it was ruining your skin and face, you would have second thoughts. Here are our Top 5 reasons why you should quit right now and never touch a cigarette again.

By the way, that includes e-cigarettes…

  1. Increased risk of skin cancer 

    What? Smokers are three times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma than non-smokers – SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer, often appearing on the lips of smokers.

    Why? The increased risk comes from a lowered immune system, due to the toxins in the cigarette smoke. Nicotine affects skin inflammation and skin cell growth.

  1. Premature aging and wrinkles 

    What? Smokers look, on average, 1.4 times older than non-smokers, with excessive wrinkling and sagging of skin around the eyes and mouth. Smokers lines – the vertical wrinkles that form around the lips – are caused by the constant pursing of the lips to draw on a cigarette. Gauntness and a grey appearance can also occur.

    Why? Smoking slows the blood supply that keeps your skin supple and healthy. It also contains carbon monoxide, which displaces the oxygen in your skin and depletes many nutrients, including Vitamin C, which helps to repair and protect the skin. The toxins in cigarette smoke damage collagen and elastin, the fibrous components of skin that keep it firm.

  1. Slow wound healing 

    What? Scars are likely to be bigger and redder than on a non-smoker, with wounds taking far longer to heal. So, if you were thinking of plastic surgery to deal with Point 2, bear in mind it will be a sloooooow healing process.

    Why? Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, a narrowing of blood vessels that can limit oxygen-rich blood supply to the tiny vessels in the face or other parts of the body. This slows the body’s ability to repair itself, and increases the risk of wound infection, skin graft failure, tissue death and blood clot formation.

  1. Tooth discolouration, loss and gum disease 

    What? Nicotine stains the teeth, which is ugly and costly to remedy, but smoking also puts you at greater risk for gum disease and even oral cancer. Smokers are 6 times more likely to develop gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.

    Why? Nicotine restricts the blood flow to the gums, so tell-tale symptoms of gum disease, like bleeding gums, are often not experienced by smokers. Slow wound healing (Point 3) can mean periodontal procedures may be ineffective.

  1. Stretch marks 

    What? Red skin striations form when you gain weight rapidly (like when you’re pregnant) but can also form in the general sagging and aging of skin due to lack of elasticity.

    Why? Nicotine damages the fibres and connective tissue in your skin, which causes it to lose elasticity and strength.

The dramatic alteration in the appearance of the skin with ageing is related both to intrinsic (genetic) factors as well as external factors such as the environment we live in and the habits we keep. These factors are what cause us to age and the biggest extrinsic factors are sun exposure and smoking. While we understand the skin has an inherent protection and defense system against a gene that decreases over a lifetime, by smoking you just accelerate the ageing process so much.

A lifetime of smoking is a hard habit to shake, with some of the damage irreversible. But it’s not all gloom and doom – once you have stopped smoking, your natural glow will return, tar stains on your fingers and teeth will disappear in time, and the return of your natural blood flow to your skin, as well as collagen and elastin production, will only reap positive results. Don’t ever think it’s too late to quit – take back your life and your health, today!









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