Written by Lisa Allen | Edited by Dr Mark Kapnoudhis
Approximately 1 out of every 5 people are cigarette smokers, and smoking claims the lives of over 3 million people each year. But there’s no need to repeat statistics that we’ve all heard before; we all know that smoking is bad for you. But how bad is it for your skin? Does smoking cause acne?
In this article we’ll examine a possible connection between cigarette smoking and acne, and what we find out just may surprise you!
In 2006 the Journal of Investigative Dermatology published the results of a massive 20 year study of over 27,000 participants which was aimed at determining whether or not there was a connection between smoking and the prevalence of acne.
The results? There is a connection, but…it’s not what you might think!
The study actually found that severe acne vulgaris was less common among smokers than among non-smokers. Additionally, the more a person smokes, the less likely they were to have severe acne.
The Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology found similar results in a smaller study published in 2007, with the exception that they were only able to note a statistical difference for females who smoked, and none for males.
Both of these more recent studies, however, have opposite findings of some older studies, such as one published in 2001 by the British Journal of Dermatology which found that smokers tended to have more acne than non-smokers. There have also been studies which found no correlation either way.
At this point is seems that all science has to say about the link between smoking and acne is:
- There may be a link, but we’re not completely sure yet.
- Regardless of whether smoking causes or even helps acne, it certainly does play a role in the development of other adverse skin conditions.
- Most notably is skin cancer, but smoking also drastically increases the development of wrinkles and makes your skin look far older than it is.
- Smoking increases instances of inflammatory reactions by the skin, which can make existing acne lesions more red and prominent.
- Also, smoking reduces the skin’s ability to heal, which will cause acne blemishes to remain on the skin for longer than they would otherwise.
- One thing that many smokers will claim is that smoking helps to reduce stress. Whether or not this is actually true or not is a topic of debate, but many smokers will swear that it lowers their stress levels.
Since stress is a known acne trigger for some people, this may be noteworthy. It may be possible to achieve the stress reduction of cigarettes without any of the harmful side effects through the use of water-based electronic cigarettes, which actually produce no smoke but still reproduce the feeling of smoking a cigarette.
In conclusion, it’s impossible to say definitively whether or not there is a link between smoking and acne, however the scientific research on the subject so far seems to suggest that there is. Regardless of whether or not smoking causes acne, it is certainly bad for your skin and your overall health, so it’s certainly better to not smoke than to smoke.