If you smoke, you already know you need to quit. It’s bad for your heart, lungs, brain, and even your sex life.
But let’s face it: You’d have kicked the habit yesterday if smoking’s ill effects were a bit more obvious. What if each cigarette created a black pockmark on your face, for instance?
Well, smoking does damage your looks. Discover 15 ways smoking is ruining your appearance.
Bags under your eyes
Don’t you hate it when you can’t get a good night’s sleep—and it shows on your face?If you smoke, you’re four times as likely as nonsmokers to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep, according to Johns Hopkins study.Why the lack of shut-eye? It’s possible that nightly nicotine withdrawal could be causing you to toss and turn. And unfortunately, poor sleep doesn’t equal pretty.
To be fair, psoriasis is an autoimmune-related skin condition that can show up even if you never touch a cigarette.
However, if you do smoke, your risk for the scaly skin condition goes up—a lot.
According to a 2007 study, if you puff a pack a day for 10 years or less, psoriasis risk goes up 20 percent; 11-20 years and your risk is 60 percent higher; and for those who pass the two-decade mark, the psoriasis risk more than doubles. (Even secondhand smoke during pregnancy or childhood is linked to a higher risk.)
As if the wrinkly skin wasn’t enough, smoking hurts your hair too. Experts think the toxic chemicals in smoke can damage the DNA in hair follicles and generate cell-damaging free radicals as well.
The end result? Smokers have thinner hair that tends to go gray sooner than nonsmokers. That is, if they have any hair at all.
Men who smoke are about twice as likely to lose their hair as nonsmokers, after taking into account factors that increase the risk of baldness, such as aging and genetics, according to a 2007 study in Taiwan.
Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, a narrowing of the blood vessels that can limit oxygen-rich blood flow to the tiny vessels in the face or other parts of the body.
This means your wounds will take longer to heal and you’ll have scars that are bigger and redder than you would in a nonsmoking parallel universe.
For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, smokers are more susceptible to infection with human papillomavirus, a large family of viruses that can cause warts—including genital warts.
While genital warts are caused by sexually transmitted types of HPV, smoking is also a risk factor. Even taking the number of sex partners into account, women who smoke are nearly four times as likely to have genital warts as nonsmokers, according to one study.
Smoking is a leading cause of cancer, including lung, throat, mouth, and esophageal cancer, so it should be no surprise that cigarettes can also increase your risk of skin cancer.
In fact, according to a 2001 study, smokers are three times as likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common type of skin cancer, than nonsmokers.