Does Smoking Cause Acne?

We all know that smoking produces a host of negative effects from asthma to lung cancer. However, you may not be aware that smoking can also cause acne. Here, we take a closer look at this phenomenon.

What Is Smoker’s Acne?

Researchers now believe that smoking could cause acne. A study carried out by researchers in Italy’s San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome indicated that non-smokers who suffer from acne generally have the inflammatory type. Meanwhile, acne-prone adults who smoke are more likely to have APAA (non-inflammatory post-adolescent acne). It is for this reason that the condition has been called “smoker’s acne”. 

A Greater Risk Of Developing Non-Inflammatory Acne

There is a difference between non-inflammatory and inflammatory acne types. Non-inflammatory acne breakouts aren’t the same inflamed, red pimples associated typically with acne. Instead, non-inflammatory acne will block the pores, appearing as comedones or skin-colored bumps across the skin. It may also appear in the form of non-inflamed blackheads. This type of acne may occur anywhere across the body, however it tends to appear most on the cheeks.

Not only that, but vitamin E levels are reduced and sebum peroxidation is increased by smoking. Sebum is the word used to describe the oily substance which is found in the pores. When sebum becomes blocked in the pores, comedones and non-inflamed blackheads appear across the skin. Vitamin E, meanwhile, is a vital antioxidant to keep your immune system healthy. When vitamin E levels are reduced, bacterial infections may increase which result in acne breakouts.

How Many Smokers Suffer From Acne?

Research has shown that 42% of smokers have acne when compared to 10% of those who don’t smoke. However, those who smoke cigarettes develop non-inflammatory acne at a greater rate than other types of adult acne sufferer. 75% of women taking part in the non-inflammatory acne study were smokers.

The amount of cigarettes that someone smokes has limited effect on acne breakout severity. Nevertheless, women who had had acne during their teenage years have a four time greater chance of having smoker’s acne when they reach adulthood.

Almost half of non-smokers suffering from non-inflammatory acne were exposed to specific environmental factors, such as being exposed constantly to smoke or working in steam-filled kitchens. These could have been contributing factors to acne development.

Is It Always Acne?

If you’re wondering whether you’ve developed smoker’s acne, it’s important to note that it may not be acne after all. There is a different skin condition known as Acne Inversa (hidradenitis supperativa) which is associated with smoking. This chronic disease leqaves scars and can most commonly be found in women who are middle aged.

Although acne inversa looks like acne, it only occurs on particular areas of the body. Adults who smoke may have true non-inflammatory acne on their face, but in other areas where there are sweat glands, skin problems may be due to acne inversa. This means that acne-like bumps in the groin, armpit or thighs may be acne inversa. It has a similar appearance to boils and if you spot it, you should see your doctor quickly to get treatment and mitigate the effects.

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