I recently stopped smoking. It is my 3rd try but this time I want to stick with it. Not only did my boyfriend tell me that I was coughing all night but also that my skin had really started to look OLD. Is it true that smoking can cause skin aging? I thought that only internal organs were affected.
Smoking is bad for you – I hope that we all know that by now. It is considered to be the most preventable cause of premature death and disease, including body and skin aging. What most people do not know is that smoking affects the entire body. It can affect internal organs such as the heart, lungs and brain but it can also affect the skin, nails and hair. Let’s talk about smoking in general and review the outward signs that one can see in smokers and not in those who do not smoke.
We have all heard by now that smoking can cause multiple internal problems such as lung diseases (cancer, emphysema, bronchitis), heart disease (heart attack and heart failure) as well as brain and other body organ damage. There is really no such thing as a safe cigarette. Tobacco smoke is filled with carcinogens and even being around others who smoke is dangerous
The effects of smoke on the skin, nails and hair is not as dramatic as that seen in the internal organs but it is definitely much more visible.
Let’s talk about skin, nails and hair. People who smoke have:
- Smoker’s hands and nails – we have all seen this.
People who smoke a lot have yellow stained nails and skin of the fingers that normally holds the cigarette. The more one smokes the more pronounced the sign. Nail and skin staining is a consequence of tobacco smoke directly affecting the skin and nails.
- Smoker’s face – the facial skin has a yellowish sallow complexion with increased wrinkling compared to those who do not smoke. The lines around the mouth and eyesare more pronounced and the skin does not have healthy glow. We know that smoking affects small blood vessels that nourish the skin providing nutrients and eliminating waste.
Smoker’s blood vessels do not work as well resulting in skin that is not properly maintained. In addition, the collagen and elastic fibers in the skin of smokers show similar changes to those in severely sun-damaged skin. Free radicals present in the smoke accelerate skin degradation and gradual destruction.
- Smoker’s smell – it is there and only those who do not smoke can tell. The smell originates from the skin and hair and it is overpowering. Many people find it so offensive that they have asthma attacks just by being close to a smoker.
- Increased risk of skin cancers – basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. We are not sure why smokers have more skin cancers but it is felt that the same mechanisms that damage DNA by the sun are caused by smoke.
- Hair loss – there is an association between smoking and premature hair loss and grey hair. Tobacco smoke affects small vessels that feed the hair follicle. This affects hair growth cycle eventually resulting in diminished hair growth.
- Poor wound healing – smokers know this. It takes longer for a smoker to heal from abrasions and cuts than it does for those who do not smoke. This is not a minor issue as slower healing lesions can be a source of infection.
The good news is that some of the skin, nail and hair changes can be improved or even reversed when one decides to stop smoking. In addition, specific treatments such as topical preparation, chemical peels, IPL photo-rejuvenation and laser treatments can encourage skin recovery. It is time to stop smoking and start recovering your youthful appearance and vitality.
If you have further questions or concerns or wish to book a confidential consultation, please call us at 780-424-4440 ext. 2 or email us.
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