The adverse effects of smoking on the human body are a well-known fact. And while nicotine affects your health and the way you feel, it also has a significant impact on your overall appearance. In addition to causing premature ageing and wrinkles or worsening existing skin conditions, cigarettes also contain toxins that can lead to skin cancer.
As a result, many experienced smokers have switched to alternatives, such as vaping or electronic cigarettes. Although more research is needed to determine the potential effects of vaping on the skin, the ability to choose nicotine-free e-liquids, such as Double Drip or alike, already makes vaping a much safer option.
Below, you will learn more about the harmful effects smoking has on your skin (including early ageing, skin pigmentation, acne, psoriasis, slower wound healing, and more), as well as why vaping is better for your skin health than smoking.
Dangers of Smoking and Nicotine on the Skin
The nicotine present in traditional cigarettes has been shown to have a number of adverse effects on the skin. Let’s take a closer look at those that are the most common:
Premature Wrinkles and Early Aging
Nicotine, which is present in tobacco smoke, is known to increase the activity of epidermal cells that produce collagen. As a result, smoking can lead to premature ageing of your skin and wrinkles.
In addition, nicotine causes blood vessels to narrow, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the skin. This is why smokers are more likely to have wrinkles, facial lines, and loose skin than non-smokers. Moreover, according to Mayo Clinic, “repetitive squinting and lip pursing contribute to lines around the mouth and eyes.”
Nicotine is also known to cause hyperpigmentation - the yellowing of the skin and dark spots due to the increased melanin in the skin caused by smoking. This can affect the appearance of your face, neck, hands, fingers, and other areas of your body. The most common skin pigmentation caused by nicotine is freckling and tar-stained fingers. However, it may also cause patchy discolouration on different parts of your face.
Delayed Wound Healing
Another common effect of nicotine on the skin is delayed wound healing. It is due to impaired blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the body, as well as vascular constriction. Thus, it might take longer for smokers to heal even minor cuts while increasing the possibility of scars appearing from minor injuries as well.
Although acne is considered an adolescent disease, it is a no less common issue for many adult smokers. Experimental data from this study showed “a straight correlation between smoking habit and post-pubertal acne in which the clinically non-inflammatory type - APAA - is the most frequent.”
Eczema and Psoriasis
Another negative effect of nicotine on the skin is its ability to trigger psoriasis and eczema - the inflammatory skin conditions that cause dryness, flaking, and itching. Psoriasis can appear as red, scaly patches with silvery scales. It can affect different parts of the body, including the elbows, knees, hands, face, and body parts with hair, such as the scalp, chest, and legs.
Eczema can appear on any area of the skin, and the most common types include atopic dermatitis and active hand dermatitis with symptoms such as dry, itchy patches that may look like a rash. These patches may also be cracked or crusted. The condition is also characterised by burning pain and constant itching.
Although smoking itself may not be a direct cause of psoriasis or eczema, it has been proven to aggravate the symptoms and worsen the already existing conditions. For example, experienced smokers have been found to experience a higher frequency of eczema outbreaks than individuals who do not smoke.
How Vaping Can Affect Your Skin Health
Vaping is still relatively new compared to smoking tobacco, meaning not much research has been done specifically on e-cigarettes and their impact on your skin in general. However, there are already studies that show vaping to be less harmful (yet not completely safe) than traditional smoking.
Thus, one of the surest ways to improve your skin health while switching to electronic cigarettes is minimising or eliminating the nicotine strengths in e-liquids of your choice. Vaping will likely help you maintain a healthy complexion without causing any harm or damage to the tissues on your face or body.
That’s because when you vape, you don’t inadvertently create many dangerous chemicals, which is the case if you opt to smoke instead. Furthermore, there is no need to worry about stained teeth, fingers, and nails due to vaping, as there is no smoke coming out of electronic cigarettes.
Although vaping may not be completely free from any health risks, it is much safer than smoking tobacco when it comes to long-term health risks. In addition, vaping can serve as a helpful tool for quitting smoking - this is especially true for people who cannot quit smoking by utilising conventional methods.
As a result, it is worth giving vaping a try if you’re looking for a way to become nicotine-free and improve your overall health and well-being.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that nicotine has significant negative effects on your body in general and your skin in particular. And although every person’s health is an individual case, there is always a higher risk of developing various diseases due to smoking cigarettes. Moreover, it is essential to remember that nicotine isn’t only harmful to you but also to those around you.
Thus, if you’re looking for a way to reduce the adverse effects of nicotine on your skin health, vaping might be a good option for you. Even though vaping is not entirely safe, switching to electronic alternatives that do not contain nicotine is a much safer option than tobacco smoking.