Most people know the common dangers of smoking, like cancer and lung disease, but many don’t understand how smoking affects the skin. According to a study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Epidemiology, smokers have nearly double the risk of developing psoriasis compared with people who have never smoked cigarettes.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease and smoking is thought to increase the risk of developing psoriasis by directly affecting the immune system. Learn more about the link between smoking and psoriasis.
Types of Psoriasis
There are several basic types of psoriasis that can affect the skin. One of the most common is plaque psoriasis, which appears as red, raised patches covered in scaly, silvery-white dead skin cells. This condition ranges from severe to minor plaque psoriasis but usually presents with intense itching and possible bleeding. While there is no plaque psoriasis cure, the symptoms can be managed. Other types of psoriasis include guttate, pustular, inverse and erythrodermic.
How Smoking Affects the Skin
Cigarette smoke contains thousands of toxic substances. It is also well-known that smoking can significantly increase the production of free radicals in the body, which in turn accelerates the skin aging process. Smoking can also have a direct effect on the body’s immune system. Nicotine, a chemical compound present in tobacco, is believed to have internal effects on the immune system, as well as skin cell growth. This harmful substance can cause heavy smokers to develop external skin irritation.
While it’s not always possible to prevent the development of psoriasis, the condition can be treated and flare-ups prevented. To drastically reduce your risk of triggering psoriasis, most health professionals recommend quitting smoking. It is always best not to breathe in secondhand smoke if possible. Many studies have showed that making certain lifestyle changes, such as quitting cigarettes, can reduce the severity of a person’s psoriasis as well as increase the effectiveness of some psoriasis treatments.
Smoking can have a number of negative side effects on the skin. If you suffer from psoriasis, it is imperative you stop smoking to reduce your symptoms and improve your overall health.