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Does Smoking Cause Acne? Plus More Horrible Effects of Smoking on Your Skin

does smoking cause acne 1

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Does smoking cause acne? This is a common question among smokers who still want healthy and beautiful skin.

After all, the dangers of smoking cigarettes are already well-documented. It wreaks havoc on your health, causing everything from cancer to stroke, heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy problems, irritable bowel syndrome, and many more.

Your skin also takes a beating every time you take a drag off a cigarette. In fact, smoking has so many negative effects, it’s hard to know where to start. It causes everything from premature aging to deep wrinkles, baggy eyelids, dryness, and in the worst cases, skin cancer.

As for acne, the answer is yes. Smoking can both cause and worsen acne, especially if you’re an adult.

What is adult and adolescent acne?

acne on a woman face

Acne is the 8th most prevalent disease in the world. 50 million people have it in the US alone. When most people think of “acne,” they imagine red pimples erupting all over the face. However, pimples are just one symptom of acne.

Specifically, acne is a skin disease. It can be non inflammatory or inflammatory. Experts haven’t isolated a single cause yet, but contributing factors include hormones, stress, bacteria, clogged hair follicles, and/or excess oil or sebum production. Symptoms include:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Papules, which are small and tender red bumps
  • Pustules, aka pimples, which are papules with pus
  • Nodules, which are painful and solid bumps under the skin
  • Cystic lesions, which are painful lumps under the skin which are filled with pus

These can appear anywhere on the body, including your face, chest, forehead, shoulders, and upper back. Both inflammatory and non inflammatory cases can be very hard to treat, and for many people, it can last for decades and eventually create scars and other imperfections.

Does smoking cause acne?

man smoking

As we mentioned earlier, the ultimate cause of inflammatory acne is still unknown. Similarly, there’s still a lot of debate about whether smoking can cause acne or not:

  • A medically reviewed study from the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute found higher rates of acne in smokers. The findings also suggested that smoking can cause atypical post-adolescent acne, which is a non inflammatory form of the condition.
  • Another highly-cited 2001 study found that in general, smokers had more acne. They also found that smokers experienced worse breakouts the more they smoked.
  • On the other hand, another medically reviewed 2006 study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed a lower prevalence of acne among smokers vs. non-smokers.
  • In a related 2012 study composed of Chinese participants (both adolescents and adults) found a link between adolescent acne and smoking. However, it also observed that tobacco and cigarette use didn’t have a significant effect on adult acne.

This brings us back to the original question: Does smoking cause acne?

Well, science and medicine have no definitive answer (yet). However, smoking has been directly linked to one specific form of acne: acne inversa.

Smokers Have a Greater Risk of Developing Acne Inversa Than Non Smokers

woman smoking

Acne inversa is a chronic disorder that’s most prevalent in smokers compared to non smokers, especially middle-aged women. Here’s a quick look at this skin condition:

  • Acne inversa is chronic inflammation of the sweat (apocrine) glands.
  • Unlike other types of acne in which clogged pores (with substances like sebum or dirt) create growths over the skin, the bumps form under the skin when it comes to acne inversa. In addition, the bumps look more like large boils than regular pimples.
  • This type of acne is usually found in the thighs, groin, buttocks, and armpits.
  • It’s inflammatory, which can lead to redness, itching, irritation, and in some cases, wounds.
  • The bumps can accumulate pus and require drainage.
  • In severe cases, acne inversa can cause tissue injury and irreversible scarring.

Recent studies have found a link between smoking and acne inversa. In a German study involving 100 participants with acne inversa, for instance, an alarming 87% of them were smokers. According to MedlinePlus.gov, quitting smoking can help reduce the severity of acne and in some cases, make blemishes disappear combined with the right acne treatment.

Does nicotine cause acne?

nicotine and acne

If you already have acne, nicotine can make the breakouts worse. Nicotine constricts the blood vessels, which reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients like Vitamin E and A, all of which your skin needs to heal and thrive. The more you smoke, the harder it is for your cells to recover from pimples, blemishes, redness and itchiness, and other effects of inflammatory acne. 

Do cigarettes make acne worse?

acne worst?

Yes, it can aggravate the condition in several ways:

  • Smoke causes the skin to dry out, which makes it more prone to breakouts
  • Cigarette smoke clogs your pores and sebaceous glands, which is one of the most common causes of acne
  • Nicotine withdrawal (which can happen quickly in between cigarettes) triggers stress hormones which often causes flare-ups
  • Cigarette smoking constricts your blood vessels, which prevents your cells from healing pimples, sores, inflammation, itchiness and other acne symptoms
  • Smoking can also decrease the effectiveness of your acne treatment and eventually lead to severe acne
  • Due to the restricted blood flow and lack of Vitamin E, A, and other nutrients, your skin may not be able to recover quickly, or at all

In short, smoking and acne are intertwined. Not only can smoking make it worse, it can also render acne treatment ineffective and prolong your breakouts.

How does smoking affect your skin?

smoking affect skin

On top of this, smoking has many other bad effects on the skin:

Smoking causes premature wrinkles and early skin aging. 

Smoking releases toxins into your cells, which in turn damages collagen and elastin (the elements that make your skin firm and supple). 

Without them, your skin becomes less elastic and hardens, which leads to premature aging and deeper wrinkles. These are most noticeable around the mouth, eyes, and in between the eyebrows. It can also cause sagging specially around the jawline and under your eyes. 

Smokers usually develop vertical wrinkles around the mouth as well, due repeated pursing of the lips as they draw on cigarettes.

It can cause dark spots and other forms of skin pigmentation.

Smoking causes the skin to produce excess melanin, which creates dark spots particularly on the face. Nicotine and tar can also turn your skin yellow. 

Smoking causes psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin issue. it produces scaly, red, and itchy patches all over the body. According to research, the more you smoke, the higher your risk for developing psoriasis. 

Smoking can lead to uneven skin tone.

Due to the unhealthy skin cells and constricted blood flow, regular smokers usually have uneven skin tone which can appear pale, even grey or yellow. 

Smokers are at a much higher risk of skin cancer. 

When you smoke, you have a higher risk of getting several types of cancer, such as skin and oral cancer, versus non-smokers. In particular, smokers are prone to developing Squamous Cell Carcinoma, which is primarily caused by cigarettes.

Will my skin improve if I stop smoking?

woman on a miror

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to improve your skin. 

Here’s a quick look at what happens to your skin when you stop smoking:

Your skin begins to improve hours after smoking

Within hours, the benefits begin to occur. For instance, your colour perks up a bit as your blood circulation starts to improve. 

Weeks after your quit, your skins starts to rejuvenate itself

Within weeks, the carbon monoxide levels in your body will drop to normal. Many smokers notice their skin looking healthier and brighter thanks to the increased antioxidant and oxygen levels.

With the right anti-aging skin care regimen, you can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging. 

If you’re suffering from severe acne, you may also notice your breakouts improving. 

Quitting smoking leads to amazing skin over time

The longer you quit, the younger and healthier you will look. Over time and with consistent skin care habits, your cheeks will start looking less hollow, some of the fine lines will eventually disappear, and you’ll get back that youthful glow as your skin cells thrive and become healthier.

The biggest challenge here is controlling the cravings enough to actually give your skin a chance to recover. Our hypnosis app can help you fight those cravings, and most importantly, kick your smoking habit for good.

Since you can use it on your smartphone, you can take it anywhere. Every time you feel a craving coming on, simply pull up the app and follow the instructions.

Finally, a hypnosis app is your best option if skin health is one of your reasons for quitting smoking. Other interventions like patches or vapes still contain nicotine, which is still damaging to your skin.

FAQs About Acne and Smoking

Does smoking cause acne?

Some studies have found a link between smoking and acne, but more research is needed. However, medical advice is unanimous: cigarette smoking can severely worsen both non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne. 

Is vaping better for acne?

No, because nicotine has the same destructive effects on your skin. In addition, vaping can cause burns and scars, especially around your mouth.

I want to take care of my skin. How can I quit smoking? 

Studies have shown that hypnosis is incredibly effective for quitting smoking, and one of the best ways to quit long-term. It’s very easy to get started, too– simply download the hypnosis app and start following the program.

How can I reverse the effects of smoking on my skin? 

Aside from using the hypnosis app to quit, make sure to follow a good skin care regimen, and if necessary, seek medical advice to treat skin damage. In addition, complement your hypnosis practice with stop smoking meditation plus the right food and detox drinks to support your quitting journey.

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