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Does cigarette smoking make you look ugly and old?

All of us know the harmful effects of tobacco and cigarettes on our vital organs like heart, lungs, brain, bones, eyes, etc. Smoking does not spare our skin health and has a nasty impact especially on our face and hair. Our facial appearance influences how we feel about ourselves. If we do not take care of our face, the overall personality gets impacted.

 Smoking decreases supply of oxygen and nutrients like vitamin C to the skin, which help protect and repair skin damage. Carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke displaces the oxygen in your skin, and nicotine reduces blood flow, leaving your skin dry and discolored. Hence, smokers appear pale with uneven skin tone. Some of the 4000 chemicals in tobacco smoke destroy collagen and elastin. These are the components that provide strength and elasticity to your skin. Smoking, active or passive, deteriorates these skin-building components, resulting in sagging skin and prominent wrinkles. Stretch marks or skin striations form when you gain weight rapidly. Anyone can get stretch marks with rapid weight gain (such as in pregnancy), but cigarettes are a contributing factor as well.

 Smoking causes creases or puckers due to use of muscles around the lips to let out the smoke, resulting in wrinkles. The problem aggravates due to the loss of skin elasticity, forming prominent lines surrounding the lips. Nicotine stains darken the lips further.

Wrinkles around eyes develop earlier and deeper in smokers. Chemicals in the cigarettes cause internal damage to the skin and blood vessels around your eyes. When you smoke, you squint to prevent smoke entering your eyes, causing visible crow's feet around the eyes.

Smoking not only damages your facial the appearance, it can also distort your body’s contour. As the skin loses its elasticity, parts of the body (like inner arms, thighs, breasts, etc.) that were earlier firm and rigid, begin to sag, sink and slump.

Smokers are at higher risk of age spots or irregular patches of darker skin colour. Yellow stains on teeth are well-known effects of long-term smoking. Smokers are more vulnerable to developing gum diseases, bad breath, and unpleasant oral problems. Studies indicate that smokers are at double the risk of losing teeth than non-smokers.

Smoking causes:

  • Dryness, itchy skin
  • Wrinkles, sagging skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Crow’s feet around eyes
  • Pale, uneven skin tone
  • Psoriasis
  • Stained fingers, nails, teeth
  • Premature ageing
  • Hair loss, baldness
  • Warts

You always thought you look cool with a cigarette in between your fingers? See your fingernails. The nicotine in cigarette smoke can not only make your teeth brown, but it is also infamous for staining lips, fingers and nails. When you quit, these stains lighten.

Psoriasis is a long-term skin disease that causes dense, flaky patches on the skin of scalp, back, hands or feet. Studies suggest smokers are a heightened risk of developing psoriasis. According to a study, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes every day for 10 years or less, risk of psoriasis goes up by 20%; 11–20 years, your risk is 60% more; and for those who smoke for more than 20 years, the psoriasis risk more than doubles. Even second-hand smoke during pregnancy or childhood is linked to a higher risk of psoriasis for the baby.

We all develop thinner hair as we age, but smoking can speed up this process. The toxic chemicals in smoke can damage the DNA in hair follicles and generate cell-damaging free radicals, leading to hair loss. The hair also greys sooner. Some studies even suggest early onset of baldness in smokers. Smoking is a risk factor for baldness in males.

Smokers are more susceptible to a large family of viruses that can cause warts, including genital warts. While genital warts are caused by sexually transmitted, smoking is known a risk factor. Women who smoke are nearly four times as likely to have genital warts as non-smokers, as per studies.

Smoking is a leading cause of many cancers, including skin cancer. Studies suggest that smokers are three times more prone to skin cancer, than non-smokers.

How quitting smoking improves your appearance...

Quitting smoking can enhance your looks. As blood-flow improves, your skin stays away from cigarette toxins, gets more oxygen and nutrients, helping you better your skin complexion. If you stay quit, the tobacco stains on your fingers, teeth and nails will fade away with time. When you see the benefits of a better healthier skin, you will be motivated to remain smoke-free for your entire life.

 

DISCLAIMER: "The scientific/technical content of this publication has been developed for educational purpose only and you are requested to consult a Registered Medical Practitioner for appropriate diagnosis and treatment."

 

References

  • Does Cigarette Smoking Make You Ugly and Old? Deborah Grady Virginia Ernster American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol 135, Issue 8, 15 April 1992, Pages 839–842
  • Association between Smoking and Hair Loss: Another Opportunity for Health Education against Smoking? Trüeb M. Dermatology 2003; 206:189–191
  • Smoking and Skin Disease, by STL Volume 15 Number 6 - June 1, 2010

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