Does smoking increase your chances of acne?

We have always known how dangerous smoking can be – but two notable articles, in the Daily Mail and on The Harley Medical Group’s blog, have shown that it can also cause significant damage to your skin and even contribute to acne.

The Daily Mail’s article, ‘What’s smoking doing to YOUR body?’ explains how Finnish doctors have developed an interactive website to highlight the dangers of smoking. The website, Tobacco Body, has been created in conjunction with the Cancer Society of Finland to show the damage smoking causes.

Tobacco Body explains that ‘smokers are more likely to get spots as smoking weakens the circulation which increases the risk of infection. It also make acne more difficult to deal with.’ It adds that smoker’s skin looks unhealthy because the chemicals in cigarette smoke make the skin’s elastic fibres snap more easily, causing the skin to lose its elasticity.

The website also explains that cigarettes can cause women to put on weight, as well as sprout facial hair because smoking increases levels of the male hormone, testosterone.

In The Harley Medical Group’s blog meanwhile, there is research that smokers are more likely to suffer from acne, and get far worse outbreaks of the condition than non-smokers.

The survey, carried out in Hamburg, examined 900 people’s susceptibility to acne and its severity, finding the condition was prevalent in more than a quarter (27%) of participants. However, smokers were found to be more than one-and-a-half times more likely than average to suffer from acne, with 40.8 per cent of those questioned who smoked reporting outbreaks.

Sue Ibrahim, skin expert at The Lustre Clinic and nurse consultant in dermatology at Elan Medical Clinic, says: ‘We constantly see clients with ‘smokers’ skin at Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Essex.

‘The skin often looks very dull and lacklustre, and spots do not tend to heal well in people with skin that is run-down. Combined with overexposure to the sun, smoking is one of the major causes of premature ageing too, however the good news is that when you stop smoking, the skin does start to recover quite quickly.’

Dr Sam Robson meanwhile, a fellow Lustre skin expert and medical director at Temple Medical, says: ‘With my background in general practice, I constantly advise people not to smoke. There is no doubt that it affects the condition of your skin, but these articles highlight just how damaging smoking is to your skin.

‘I was fascinated to hear that there is an increase in male hormones produced as a result of smoking. I had always assumed it was due to the poor circulation and the reduced ability of the body to deal with infection, however increased testosterone would certainly account for the increase in acne found in smokers.

‘The association with increased weight is also of interest since many women cite their fear of gaining weight as one of the reasons not to stop smoking. It strikes me that there is really no benefit at all to smoking!’

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