Skin & Smoking

One of the primary consequences of smoking is aging and wrinkling of skin. The skin droops, becomes coarse and fine lines develop. Smoking is also the predominant cause of skin disorders such as psoriasis and cutaneous lupus erythematosus. The lines that develop across the mouth are called smoker’s lines. Smoking evidently causes detrimental effects on the skin. Healing wounds become difficult and infections are troublesome to heal.


The following factors contribute to aging of the skin whilst smoking:

  • Heat from cigarette burns the skin
  • Vasoconstriction occurs reducing blood supply to the skin
  • Variation in skin elastic fibres
  • Reduced moisture and vitamin A levels
  • Unhealed wounds resulting in breakdown of collagen

Skin conditions

Poor wound healing:

Smoking is linked to wound infections and postoperative complications. It can cause high rates of dehiscence and flap necrosis. Wound tensile strength is decreased. Vasoconstriction reduces oxygen circulation in the tissues and delays wound healing. Tobacco hampers vascular endothelial cell growth and production and arrests collagen synthesis.


Rhytides means wrinkling and aging of skin. Facial skin and contours are altered and smoker’s face is developed. Dyschromia and atrophic skin are clear signs of rhytides.

Favre-Racouchot syndrome:

Deep wrinkles are formed on the skin and the face contours into a come done formation due to smoking and sun exposure. This is a case of deep rhytides.

Oral mucocutaneous disorders:

  • Some of the oral disorders associated with smoking are:
  • Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis
  • Leukokeratosis – black hairy tongue
  • Nicotine stomasis or smoker’s palate – palate discolouration and fissuring
  • Gingival hyperpigmentation – smoker’s melanosis due to decreased melanin in the epidermis
  • Oral leukoplakia

Bags under the eyes:

Smoker’s experience lack of sleep due to nicotine withdrawal which results in bags under the eyes.


Scaly, itchy and red skin condition develops which is a long-term and chronic skin problem due to smoking. The skin cells usually flake off every 4 weeks but in the case of psoriasis skin cells move to the surface rapidly and grow quickly resulting in thick, red patches called plax.