August 1


Smoking and Acne: Is Smoking a Cause of Cystic Acne?

By James

August 1, 2018

Acne, adult acne, smoking and acne

Nearly 20% of Americans, both men, and women smoke, and it is essential to determine whether smoking and acne have any relationship. This will help sufferers of this skin condition to take steps to quit the habit, as there has been a great debate surrounding smoking and if it is one of the causes of cystic acne.

It is a well-known fact that cigarettes contain a large number of toxins, and some doctors are still in a debate as to whether those cigarette toxins and chemicals from smoking can cause acne. While some believe there is a connection, others feel that smoking might actually stop acne from forming, leaving one to wonder, if smoking and acne have any relationship (if smoking does cause acne).

While the debate is ongoing, knowing as much as possible about how cigarettes affect your skin will help you make a decision about whether smoking is the best choice for overall health, especially, if you suffer from acne breakouts.

Cigarette Toxins and Acne

Those who smoke and suffer from acne might wonder if smoking causes acne because of the ingredients contained in cigarettes.

As with cigarette smoke, most doctors cannot be sure if the toxins that are drawn into the body while smoking contribute to the buildup of bacteria in acne, but some believe that it may contribute to cystic acne, arising from the pores clog far below the surface.

While there is little solid evidence to support this theory, clinical trials that may give doctors more insight are in progress. Some data even suggest that girls who smoke have a lower instance of acne breakouts than their non-smoking peers. But this data isn’t complete and does not include any information about teenage males who smoke. This makes it difficult to know if there is any direct correlation.

While doctors are in contention on the idea of a relationship between smoking and acne, what they do agree on is that cigarette smoke does have an effect on the skin.

Tobacco smoke and the toxins cigarettes contain have been proven to destroy collagen. Collagen is the protein in skin that gives it its elastic properties and keeps it firm.

Cigarette smoke also contains free radicals that destroy healthy skin cells and create wrinkles that may have a say in premature aging.

Scientific Studies

A study conducted by the Dermatological Institute in Rome, Italy, concluded that cigarette smoke mainly triggered blackheads and non-inflammatory acne on jawline, cheeks etc.

The study found a relationship between smoking and acne (higher prevalence of acne in adult smokers). Several other scientific studies have, on the other hand, show that smoking actually reduced acne breakouts, as they claim that cessation of smoking led to increased inflammatory acne breakouts in many smokers.

Many non-smokers used in the study were found to suffer from inflammatory or cystic acne on cheeks, and nearly ¾ of the women in the same study also suffered from non-inflamed acne. They also happened to be smokers.

The study found that 81% of the severe non-inflamed acne sufferers were smokers, and it did not matter how many cigarettes per day one smoked. Women who had broken out in their teenage years had a greater chance of breaking out in adulthood.

As for the non-smokers suffering from inflamed or cystic acne, they had other causes for their skin condition, as they were known to work in polluted environments such smoke filled kitchens etc, that were considered to contribute to cystic acne in non-smokers.

A more recent study to determine the link between cystic acne and smoking was performed in 2009, and 1046 women were considered for this study. This more recent research also showed a strong link between smoking and acne (only between non-inflammatory acne and smoking).

Do Adult Cystic Acne Sufferers Have To Give Up Smoking?

Dermatologists are of divided opinions, and many times, as a precaution, they ask their patients to check if the cessation of smoking clears their skin up.

Dermatologists believe that smoking could still be bad for the skin as it ends up drying the cells leading to greater scarring and inflammation.

Also, smoking is known to slow down the body’s natural healing processes and could also enhance wrinkling of the skin, leading to early or premature aging.

On the other hand, researchers are of the opinion that there may be no statistical difference between smokers and non-smokers suffering from adult acne, and some even agree that smoking moderately might actually protect the body from mouth sores, rosacea and even, acne.

Finally, it is obvious that majority of the studies on this topic haven’t given a definite conclusion as to whether smoking cessation could be helpful for sufferers of adult cystic acne, and no doctor will say for sure that one needs to give up smoking completely to see an improvement in acne.

However, it is agreed that most experts will at least ask you to kick the habit since nicotine is proven to create free radicals that age the skin, reduce collagen and degrade the skin proteins.

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