Everyone knows about the link between smoking and cancer. But did you know that smoking can also cause skin problems?
From indirect effects to a full blown skin disorder, smoking can really damage your skin. Aging also results from smoking too many cigarettes.
So, if you associate smoking with glamour, think again. The truth is that smoking is linked to every skin disorder from psoriasis to melanoma and nail deformities.
Relationship Between Smoking and Psoriasis
Researchers have shown the link between smoking and psoriasis, more so at the palmopustular level. Studies have shown that palmopustular psoriasis was linked with the high prevalence of smoking.
In plaque psoriasis as well, there is high prevalence of ongoing smoking and patients with psoriasis were more likely to have smoked before the onset of the skin disease as against controls in a study.
Daily cigarette smoking has been associated with the risk of developing psoriasis. The higher the number of cigarettes smoked, the greater is the risk.
Among women suffering from psoriasis in a study, the mean number of cigarettes smoked by those with this skin disease averaged 8.6 as against 4.7 for controls.
The daily consumption of smokes can impact your skin and leave you with this dry, itchy condition.
The Impact of Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide binds with hemoglobin, reducing the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen. Due to a shift in the oxyhemoglobin dissociation curve, oxygen releases less efficiently in the tissues.
Carbon monoxide also increases the adhesiveness of the platelet and increase carboxyhemoglobin in smokers initiating massive endothelial changes.
Reducing blood flow due to nicotine impacts the oxygenation as well, impacting the speed at which skin afflictions and diseases heal.
Due to overwhelming evidence of cigarette smoke on healing, patients are told not to smoke for 12 hours following surgery.
Clearing carbon monoxide takes long and smoking abstinence prevents a wound disaster at this stage.
Peripheral Vascular Disease and Smoking
The main clinical manifestation of peripheral vascular disease is primarily that of ischemia. Intermittent claudication can impact the muscle atrophy of the thigh, calf or foot.
Examining the foot in this disease reveals the skin to be shiny, dry and atrophic. Blanching and cyanotic redness may also result along with nail deformities. Atheromatous emboli can lead to small, multiple ulcers.
Skin metastases takes place in cancer patients and can be the first sign of visceral cancer. All types of cancers associated with cigarette smoking metastasize to the skin.
The metastases spreads from distant primary tumor to the skin which can be the first sign of malignancy in an asymptomatic patient.
Tumors that metastasize inside such as cancer of the kidney or lung often appear on the skin. Smoking doubles the risk of skin cancer.
Nails provide a clue to internal malignancies caused by cigarette smoking. Clubbed nails, yellow nail syndrome and fungal nail infections also develop.
Cigarette smoking is associated with infectious dermatological conditions as well. This can also lead to oral yeast infections.
Why Smoking Results in Skin Disorders
Nicotine is an addictive substance present in cigarettes. It has a toxic impact on the epithelium. This facilities the entry of several microbes that infect the skin.
Moreover, white blood cells from cigarette smokers also have lower infection killing capacity than non-smokers. Dermatological diseases result from a drop in the immunity of the smoker to counter the infection.
The patients are at increased risk for herpes zoster, genital wars, seborrheic dermatitis, molluscum contagiosum, psoriasis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, candidiasis and other conditions.
Skin and hair are exposed to noxious toxins found in tobacco smoke. This consists of thousands of substances that damage the skin such as nicotine.
Smoking is associated with skin aging prematurely, delays in wound healing and rising incidence of infections.
Besides psoriasis, a host of skin conditions such as cutaneous lupus erthyematosus and hidrenitis suppurativa result. Smokers have many more inflammatory skin diseases such as acne.
Smoke from the cigarette raises free radical damage leading to oxidative stress, so insufficient oxygen is supplied to the skin. This results in blood vessel occlusion from tissue ischemia.
This reduces innate and host responses to immunity destroying pathogens. Specially, the smoke causes a MMP-1 or metalloproteinase enzyme to degrade collagen.
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, inflammation, delays in wound healing and increased skin aging.