Smoking accelerates the natural ageing processes, which is most apparent in the facial skin.
Smoking constricts the blood vessels, reducing the amount of blood flow to the skin, thus depleting it of oxygen and nutrients. It may also increase production of an enzyme that breaks down collagen, the main structural protein of the skin that maintains its elasticity. Smoking may reduce the body’s store of Vitamin A, which helps protect against some of the skin-damaging chemicals in tobacco.
These factors all mean that smokers have a greater risk for premature wrinkling, which is especially noticeable around the eyes and mouth. Smokers in their 40s often have skin as wrinkled as non-smokers in their 60s. Smoke-damaged skin gives a person a grey, worn appearance.
It’s also likely that squinting in response to smoke irritation, and puckering the mouth when drawing on a cigarette, cause wrinkling around the eyes and mouth. Environmental tobacco smoke dries out the skin’s surface, further causing wrinkle formation. In addition, smokers may develop hollow cheeks through repeated sucking on cigarettes; this is particularly noticeable in under-weight smokers.
Smoking in combination with sunbathing is particularly conducive to severe wrinkling: women who both sunbathe and smoke have 10 times as many wrinkles as women of the same age who don’t indulge in these risky habits. Additionally, smokers are twice as likely to develop skin cancer than non-smokers.
Smokers have a two to three times greater risk of developing psoriasis, a chronic skin condition which can be highly uncomfortable and disfiguring. Smoking may cause as many as a quarter of psoriasis cases and may also contribute to up to half of cases of palmoplantar pustulosis, a skin disease involving the hands and feet, that is thought to be a form of psoriasis.
Discoloured skin and nails
Prolonged smoking causes discolouration of the fingers and nails on the hand used to hold the cigarette.
The time bomb in your packet of smokes