Smoking is, by now, a notorious culprit for many health issues, such as cancer and heart disease. Scarier still, sometimes symptoms do not develop for these illnesses, or they can take a while to develop. That being said, smoking will still leave its mark on your appearance, even if it is not a herald of disease. From your eyes to your hair, smoking worms its way into many of the processes needed for your body. We take a look at some of the ways smoking is robbing you of a healthy glow.
Visible sleep deprivation
Over time, wrinkles can form around the outer corners of your eyes. However, they develop earlier and go deeper when you smoke due to the heat from lit cigarettes and also as a result of a smoker squinting in an attempt to keep smoke out of their eyes.
Dark bags under the eyes are also more common in smokers. A study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine previously suggested that those who smoke cigarettes are four times more likely to report feeling unrested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers. The study, which involved the analysis of the sleep architecture of 40 smokers and a matched group of 40 nonsmokers who all undertook home polysomnography, also suggested that smokers spend less time in a deep sleep than non-smokers.
Naresh M. Punjabi, MD, PhD, FCCP, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD and the study’s author, observed the following: “It is possible that smoking has time-dependent effects across the sleep period. Smokers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep due to the stimulating effects of nicotine. As night evolves, withdrawal from nicotine may further contribute to sleep disturbance.”
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the skin, which in turn causes a dull and greyish complexion. Premature aging of your skin by between 10 and 20 years will also occur from smoking.
More worryingly, smoking causes vasoconstriction, a condition that causes the blood vessels to constrict and narrow. This stops blood from reaching the tiny vessels in your face, which in turn, robs them of nutrients. The problem of this condition will be seen if you suffer a wound, as vasoconstriction will take it longer to heal and result in scars appearing bigger and redder than those who aren’t affected by the condition.
The chemicals in cigarettes also ruin the collagen and elastin in your skin. These are fibres required to give skin its strength and elasticity — lose them and sagging skin and deeper wrinkles will be the consequence, which will be seen especially around the inner arms, breasts and face.
Finally, as a result of repeated use, the muscles around the lips pull and wrinkle into what is known as a smoker’s pucker. Combined with a loss of elasticity to the skin, the result in regards to appearance will be deep lines around the lips.
Follicles under the skin are responsible for healthy hair growth. However, these need oxygen, essential nutrients and vitamins/minerals in order to function correctly and trigger natural hair growth but, as previously discussed, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that get to your skin.
Follicles deprived of oxygen can’t function correctly, which leads to hair loss and thinning.
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