Beyond its known links to cancer, lung and heart disease, SMOKING is now thought to be associated with premature skin ageing and delayed wound healing, as well as a number of skin disorders, particularly psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa and cutaneous lupus erythematosus.
SMOKING and AGEING SKIN
SMOKING can accelerate the skin ageing process in the skin. Ageing of the skin means that it droops, develops wrinkles and lines and can become dry and coarse with uneven skin colouring and broken blood vessels (telangiectasia). Smokers can appear gaunt and develop an orange or grey complexion.
Since the 1970’s studies have shown that smoking results in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure. Lines around the eyes called CROW’S FEET can develop at an earlier age. Multiple vertical lines around the mouth also occur and are called SMOKER’S LINES. These effects continue into old age. By the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin aging.
HOW DOES SMOKING CAUSE AGEING OF THE SKIN?
It is not certain exactly how smoking causes early ageing of the facial skin. Theories include:
- Heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin
- Changes in the elastic fibres of the skin
- Narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibres and loss of collagen
- Reducing Vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin