Written by Lisa Allen, MD
The skin layers of regular smoker are drier and scaly than those who don’t smoke. Immediate reaction of smoking is seen in the blood vessels that connect to your skin’s interior layers. They get blocked with nicotine and other toxic elements from cigarette, reducing the volume of blood along with nutrients, oxygen and other vitamins.
The nicotine content is known to reduce the generation of collagen, leading to premature skin wrinkles and other aging signs. Smoking causes psoriasis which is marked with read patches, scales and bumps in various parts of skin.
Skin Care While Smoking
It looks like dermatologists are really interested about the “interests” smokers’ skin health while they are still at it. Here are some of the recommended skin procedures you need to follow if you happen to be a smoker.
- Dry skin is one of the negative side effects of smoking. It is due to the blocking of skin cells with nicotine and other impurities from cigarette. Primary treatment involves plenty of water consumption. Drink at least one litre of water for every cigarette you smoke. It can compensate to some reasonable extent for the kind of dehydration which results from a single cigarette in your skin cells.
- Increase the intake of vitamin C, E and B6 through supplements and foods. Use natural skin cleansers and moisturizers on your skin regularly. They can help in supplying essential fluids to your skin externally and keep the skin cells moist.
- Drink plenty of fruit juices like water melon, pomegranate, guava, tomatoes, carrot, beet and apples. They keep your skin in hydrated condition.
Skin Care After Quitting Smoking
Just like smoking causes severe skin damages, quitting smoking can temporarily result in skin reactions like irritation, followed by red flashes on sensitive parts of the skin. These are the withdrawal symptoms which will go away quickly over a period of two or three weeks.
If you had been smoking for several years or the nicotine concentration in your body is high, then it takes more time for the withdrawal symptoms to go away. In such cases your skin needs relief from the constant feeling of itching and irritation caused by red flashes.
- Apply mixture of honey and Aloe Vera in the ratio of 1:2 on irritating skin areas. Let the liquid seep into your skin by allowing soaking for 15 to 20 minutes. Then you can wash with warm water.
- Drink plenty of water and fruit juices made from pomegranate and water melon. They can literally reduce the concentration levels of nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide and other impurities from your skin layers over time.
- Eat veggies with vitamin C, E and B6 ingredients. Tuna Fish, lean meat and fatless chicken can help in overcoming the physical craving for nicotine by diluting the levels from lungs, blood stream and other internal organs. Once the blood stream gets purified with no return to tobacco for a period of 7 to 8 weeks, the clogs in blood vessels start dissolving slowly. This leads to increased supply of oxygen to the skin layers.
Smoking And Skin Discoloration
Skin discoloration starts slowly with the hyper pigmentation process. Nicotine molecules get bound to melanin, which is a group of skin pigments like EU-melanin and PHEO-melanin. The EU type is responsible for brown and black skin tone, while PHEO is responsible for fair, yellow, red and other combinations of yellow and red colours.
Carotene and the haemoglobin in the dermis region also determine the colour of your skin. When nicotine gets bonded to all the tissues connected with melanin, discolouring the skin.
- The effects are found to be more profound (Research on Melanin by E. Malone and B Yerger 2004) on the melanin of the baby in womb than the expecting mother who smokes.
- The process of disconnecting nicotine elements from melanin is considered to be an almost impossible task. Even after you quit smoking, the bonding of two elements may continue for many years before the nicotine content starts reducing naturally.
Smoking And Skin Aging
The voluminous increase in skin wrinkles is said to be closely associated with drying effects of smoking on skin. Cigarette contains many other chemicals like acetone, butane, hexamine, lead, methanol, tar and toluene which can cause skin to go dry and shrink to abnormal levels. The lit cigarette tip could be in the range of 500 to 700 degree centigrade while burning and drawing a puff of smoke from it.
When you hold the cigarette between your fingers it can severely affect the skin layers, making them go dry. When it happens at an average of 4 to 5 times a day, the skin starts shrinking due to loss of collagen from the skin layers. It happens since collagen becomes highly unstable as the temperature in the surrounding region rises. Wrinkles formation increases primarily due to the collapse of collagen molecules.
The first step to restoration of collagen to normal levels is quitting or cutting down on cigarettes. Use a cigarette holder pipe which can shield your skin from the direct heat transmitted through the butt region. Quitting smoking could be suggested as the first remedy for protecting your skin from aging signs like wrinkles, dry skin, flakes and brittleness.
Smoking And Skin Damage
Skin damages due to smoking can extend to the inner layers like dermis, hypodermis, connective tissues and blood vessels. Besides it can affect the sweat glands, making them lose the ability to eliminate sweat and other toxic elements from the skin layers. This leads to further trapping of heat and other skin disorders.