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Smoking & Your Skin


Skin Deep: 5 Ways Smoking Can Sabotage Your Looks

You’ve probably heard about how smoking harms your heart and lungs, where the damage is serious but out of sight. When it comes to your skin, though, you don’t have to imagine how it looks — anyone can see it.

Daniel Cuozzo, DO, a dermatologist at Beebe Healthcare, says smoking damages the proteins collagen and elastin, which give youthful skin its elasticity. He describes five ways that smoking affects your appearance along with your organs.


1. Sun Damage on Steroids. Most natural skin damage comes from sun exposure over decades, but smoking makes this damage happen three times as fast. In other words, from the skin’s perspective there’s not a whole lot of difference between smoking and aging — the wrinkles, the sags, and all the rest that come with the years now come on faster with smoking. “The thing most people don’t realize is that how much smoking does increase the wrinkling around the skin of the mouth and how it overall just affects the appearance of the skin,” Dr. Cuozzo said.


2. E-Cigarettes Harm Skin, Too. While the addictive agent in cigarettes, nicotine, doesn’t cause lung cancer or heart disease, it can damage the skin. E-cigarettes don’t have the dozens of cancer-causing agents in regular cigarettes, but they do have nicotine. And this chemical can cause veins to narrow, depriving the skin of blood flow and nutrients, Dr. Cuozzo explains.


What Is Smoking Doing to Your Body?


3. A Picture is Worth 1,000 Lessons. Even though the skin risks from smoking are usually (but not, if you’ll read on, always) not as deadly as others, they could give you motivation to quit. Though it looked at sunscreen use instead of smoking, a 2011 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found beach-goers were motivated more by images of sun-damaged skin than by lessons about skin cancer risk. Quitting is hard — a lot harder than slathering on sunscreen, clearly — but smokers looking for reasons to quit may find one in keeping their skin looking firm for as long as they can.


4. Pucker Up. Though it can cause wrinkles throughout your body, smoking’s effects can be most pronounced on the mouth and lips. That’s a result of the repetitive motions like pursing your lips and blowing out smoke.


5. Damage Can Be More Than Skin-Deep. Damage to your skin doesn’t just threaten your appearance; it can compromise your health. Smoking has been connected with a minor increase in skin cancer risk. Smoking can also worsen the common skin condition psoriasis.


No matter your reason, when you decide you want to stop smoking, Beebe Healthcare wants to work with you to make it happen. Beebe's Quitline-trained counselors, based in Lewes and Rehoboth, can use the latest science-based strategies to help you quit.

For more information, call (302) 645-3030 to make an appointment.