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We have already known the fact about cigarette smoking and its association between lung cancer, heart disease and many other systemic diseases. But people may not be aware of smoking and its association with several skin conditions like premature aging of skin, wrinkle, and delayed would healing. Besides, several other skin disorders like psoriasis, skin cancer, cutaneous lupus erythematosus, hidradenitis suppurativa and many other oral and vascular diseases are also linked to cigarette smoking. In this article we’ll review some of those skin conditions and disease which are either influenced or are associated with smoking.

Premature Skin Aging and Wrinkles:

Several studies have shown that cigarette smoking promotes premature skin aging and skin wrinkles. These conditions tends to occur more likely in smokers than non smokers, research suggest. The exact mechanism by which smoking can cause premature aging and wrinkling is not clear. But they believe the following may be the likely mechanism:

  • Reduction in the blood supply to the skin due to the vasoconstrictive effects of nicotine in cigarette.
  • Decreased collagen synthesis due to reduction in blood supply.
  • Changes in the elastic fibres of the skin.
  • Chronic exposure to heat from the cigarette smoking resulting in burning of the skin.
  • Reduction in Vitamin A and moisture of the skin.
  • Pro-oxidant effects of smoking.

Poor Wound Healing

It has been shown from different research and studies that smoking has a harmful effect on would healing. Smoking can delays wound healing in any skin injuries. It also increase the risk of wound infection. The exact mechanism may not be unclear but the reason are the same:

  • Lack of oxygen due to vasoconstriction property of nicotine.
  • Decreased collagen synthesis
  • Increased blood viscosity and platelet aggregation.

All of these above mentioned factors might contribute to poor would healing.

Smoking and Skin Cancer

Compared to non-smoker, smokers have twice the risk of developing skin cancers like squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The association between smoking and the risk of squamous cell carcinoma have been well documented in several studies. The risk may increase with duration and number of cigarette per day. There is also a high risk is of oral cancer. It is said that 75% of Oral cancer occurs in smokers. The risk might even be higher with smokers who consume excess alcohol. Oral leukoplakia often described as a pre-cancer lesion also occurs much more commonly in smokers. In some few cases it may undergo malignant changes.

Smoking and Psoriasis

Several studies have found that risk of psoriasis increases with smokers. Psoriasis may be severe and extensive in patients those who smoke. It may be due to immunosuppressive effects of smoking. Palmoplantar pustulosis, a localized form of psoriasis tends to occur more in smokers than non smokers.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Hidradenitis suppurativa, also know as Acne inverse tends to occur more commonly in smokers. It is considered severe form of acne affecting the area of sweat glands and hair follicles, usually in breasts, underarms, groin, thighs and buttocks. Although exact mechanism poorly understood, it is thought that smoking alters sweat gland activity, causes overproduction of acetylcholine in the hair follicle causing blockage of hair follicle and thus promoting poor healing.

Discoid Lupus Erythematosus

Recent studies have linked cigarette smoking and the risk of developing Discoid lupus erythematosus . Cigarette smoking have also linked with decrease effectiveness of therapy in discoid lupus erythematosus.

Other Various Skin conditions that are linked to Cigarette Smoking:

Premature graying of hair.
Discoloration of distal hair of mustache often called as Smoker’s mustache.
Discoloration of fingers and nails of hands.
Oral lesions like oral candidiasis, oral lichen planus.
Black hairy tongue and hairy leukoplakia.
Acute necrotizing uncreative gingivitis.
Antiphospolipid syndrome
Buerger disease.


  1. Donald Urquhart
    June 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    Smoking really is horrifically bad for anyone. I would think that at least part of the issue lies in the reduced blood flow that nicotene invariably causes. In addition to all of the skin problems you detailed, it also has a very deleterious effect on hair and nails. The hair gets coated with nicotene film, turns dry and is brittle. In addition, the blood flow to the scalp is reduced, meaning that the hair follice produces hair of lesser quality. The nails are similarly effected, given that they are produced of the exact same protein chain in a slightly different configuration. Smoking is horrendous for the whole body, and pretty much kills of quality of life entirely.

  2. minerva graham
    June 30, 2010 at 8:34 am

    There is nothing that smoking leaves unhindered in your body. Its like puffing life. I’ve seen beautiful and healthy people blow it away due to smoking. Its best advisable to stay away from it rather than experiencing the adverse effects and then making efforts to rectify.

  3. Dress Pants ·
    November 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    sooner or later skin wrinkles would appear on your face that is why retinoids can become very useful :

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  6. Nenad Mirkovic
    September 24, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Drinking lots of Coca Cola might be bad for you.Sitting infront of computer whole day might be bad for you. Point is smokers dont need to panic about effects above, everyone can smoke within some limits like 2-3 ciggarets a day.
    These days most people smoke 20-40 ciggarets a DAY!, and thats a LOT! With that much it doesnt just effect your skin, but also (lungs, teeth, central nervous system…)

  7. Trackback: Skin Diseases Caused by Smoking | DermaTalk

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