How many drawbacks of smoking can you name? It is probably harder to say what negative thing cannot be caused by smoking than to start listing all what it does. Cigarettes are very bad, starting with bad breath and finishing with such serious conditions as cancer and emphysema. But here is another factor that scientists have discovered: nicotine ages the skin becoming the leading cause for wrinkles.
The majority of people do not even realize that smoking has negative impact on skin. Since it is the outer protection for the body, skin has to deal with everything that floats in the air: pollen, water drops and smoke particles. This is why both smokers and non-smokers can have damaged skin if both of them are exposed to cigarette smoke often and regularly.
It has been proven that tobacco smoke is the second leading cause for skin damage after sun exposure. It prevents the absorption of Vitamins C and A. These are the vitamins that provide skin protection on the regular basis. The smoke produces free radicals which are known to be bad for skin: free radicals are molecules which lack some electrons and in order to have enough of them, free radicals steal electrons from skin cells and damage them. When a person inhales one puff of cigarette smoke, more than a trillion free radicals go into the lungs. Some of them go out and float in the air, the others start circulating in the body, causing inflammatory reaction and reducing the amount of collagen in the skin (collagen in the protein that in responsible for elasticity and smoothness of skin).
Nicotine is a diuretic. This means that it absorbs liquids from the body and causesdehydration. This is another negative impact on skin, because it needs plenty of water to build new cells and support the existing layers. Along with dehydration, smoking often cuts off the blood flow from the surface of the skin. As a result, skin becomes dry, thin, and has pale appearance.
Smoking does the greatest impact on the skin of the face, this is why people can often hear a term “smoker’s face”. It was officially added to medical dictionaries in 1985. Due to mechanical actions during smoking when a person moves lips holding a cigarette, inhaling and exhaling the smoke, the skin modifies and the lines are created around the lips and corners of the eyes. With time there can also be numerous wrinkles on the cheeks and lower jaw.
A recent study at the University of Michigan showed that smoking is the source ofwrinkles on the upper arm too. Both men and women of all ages were getting wrinkleson various body parts, but especially on the face and upper arm.
It is nearly impossible to bring skin to the pre-smoking condition, however, a person can stop it from worsening and help it look somewhat better. Here are a few things that can be done:
• First and most important condition is to quit smoking. As soon as the last cigarette is put aside, all body processes work hard to repair the damage done to lungs, blood vessels, skin and everything else. The sooner the smoker quits, the better the results will be, because skin damage accumulates with age and is even harder to repair in the older age.
• Exercises might help bringing blood to the surface of the skin. This will restore the capillaries, bring higher concentration of oxygen to the skin, and revitalize it.
• Diet should be healthy and well-balanced. It is necessary to eat food full of Vitamins A and C.
• A dermatologist might help with the cosmetic approach by recommending special therapies, treatments or deep peels which plump up the wrinkles and smooth out the skin.