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  5. How To Reverse Smoking Effects On Skin With Ayurveda?

Did you know that the harmful effects of smoking are not just limited to your lungs? A smoker’s skin ages faster and is more prone to developing skin cancer.

Toxins in tobacco smoke and nicotine in themselves adversely affect your skin by depleting its structure and immunity, thus making it susceptible to a variety of skin conditions [1]. "The best way to reverse the effects of smoking will be to of course quit smoking. If that's not an option, Ayurveda knows best how to level up your skin immunity against its damage," says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

Scroll down for the best Ayurvedic remedies to reverse them.

How Does Smoking Affect Your Skin?

1. Collagen Depletion And Skin Ageing

Research shows that constant exposure to tobacco smoke can cause serious depletion of elastic fibres in the extracellular matrix of your skin [2]. These elastic fibres maintain your skin’s tensile strength and help it to resume its original structure after being stretched. Tobacco smoke also decreases collagen production in your skin and increases the number of free radicals. With a spike in free radicals and a delay in the extracellular matrix turnover, the skin automatically looks aged, wrinkled and damaged.

2. Hyperpigmentation

Melanocytes in your skin produce the pigment melanin which gives your skin its unique colour and protects it from sun damage. However, apart from UV ray exposure, factors such as tobacco smoke can also cause melanocyte hyperactivity [3]. This can lead to hyperpigmentation in areas of your skin that are constantly exposed to tobacco smoke.

3. Delayed Wound Healing

In case of an injury or tissue damage, your body's natural wound healing process initiates inflammation and vasodilation. This allows white blood cells to quickly reach the site of injury. Constant smoking can inhibit inflammation and constrict your blood vessels. This causes a delay in wound healing and increases the chance of infection and gangrene. It can also cause graft failure in your skin after surgery.

4. Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamins and antioxidants in your body have the ability to fight and reverse free radical skin damage. However, when your skin is constantly exposed to the harmful compounds and tar particles present in tobacco smoke, it not only increases the number of free radicals, but also decreases essential vitamin levels [4].

This weakens your skin’s natural defence line, making it more vulnerable to diseases, infections and permanent damage. Research shows a depletion in Vitamin C and B in plasma and lower levels of Vitamin A, E, Zinc and Selenium in frequent smokers.

5. Atopic Dermatitis

The cause of this chronic inflammatory condition is attributed to various factors such as genetic influence, immune dysfunctions and certain external factors. Smoking or direct exposure to tobacco smoke may play a significant role in eczema (atopic dermatitis) [5] flare-ups. This is especially due to the increase of reactive oxygen in a smoker’s skin, which causes depletion of the epidermal barrier.

Amongst others, hand eczema is the most common condition experienced by frequent smokers.

6. Psoriasis

Several medical researchers have proven that smoking can trigger various inflammatory conditions including psoriasis [6]. Nicotine in cigarettes binds to your skin cells and can promote excess production of keratinocytes. Not only can it be a causative factor for psoriasis, but it can also determine the severity of the condition and one’s response to treatment.

7. Vasculitis

leukocytoclastic vasculitis, an inflammatory reaction in the blood vessels

Vasculitis is a serious condition that thickens the walls of your blood vessels. This obstructs blood circulation to your tissues and organs. Consumption of nicotine is known to cause vasoconstriction and thrombosis. Most patients affected with Buerger's disease, a type of vasculitis that mainly affects the arms and legs, are found to be smokers or consumers of tobacco.

8. Skin Cancer

Tobacco contains innumerable harmful chemicals including tar particles that can cause skin cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, which is a malignancy of the squamous cells, is shown to be more common amongst smokers. Squamous cell carcinoma can spread quickly and can be difficult to treat.

9. Susceptibility To Infections

Smoking depletes your epidermal barrier, weakens your skin’s immune defence and delays wound healing. This makes your skin more prone to various bacterial infections, especially after injuries from Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Smokers may also experience viral infections that cause warts on the skin.

10. Palmoplantar Pustulosis

This is an inflammatory condition that causes large painful, liquid filled blisters on the palms and soles of the affected persons. As smoking interferes with the body’s inflammatory responses, research shows palmoplantar pustulosis is more common amongst smokers.

11. Hidradenitis Suppurativa

hidradenitis suppurativa in the armpit

This rare, chronic skin condition is caused by the blockage of hair follicles and/or infection and swelling of sweat glands. Hidradenitis suppurativa is characterized by small to large pus-filled bumps under the skin (armpits, groin, buttocks) that may be painful.

With a high population of smokers amongst patients, nicotine’s ability to block hair follicles and cause immune dysfunctions are often taken into account in the pathogenesis of the disease.

12. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)

There is a heightened risk of SLE in smokers when compared to non-smokers. Smoking can also make ongoing SLE treatments ineffective.

13. Oral Conditions

woman showing black hairy tongue out of mouth

The oral cavity in smokers gets most affected by tobacco smoke. This can lead to the development of various complications such as Lingua Villosa, commonly known as Hairy Tongue, Actinic Cheilitis, Oral Candidiasis and others.

14. Reduced Efficacy Of Medicines

Regular smoking is known to reduce sensitivity to medicines. This is also a reason why most smokers have better tolerance to alcohol. A frequent smoker may require double the dose of medicine as compared to a non-smoker, due to the effect of nicotine in the body.

The effects of passive smoking on the skin can be equally damaging. Children and adults who are constantly exposed to tobacco smoke are also at a risk of facing the above-mentioned skin conditions.

Is It Possible To Reverse The Skin Damage Caused By Smoking?

According to skin specialists, after quitting, the effects of smoking on the skin can be reversed with proper skincare, a vitamin-enriched diet and a healthy lifestyle. The change is gradual and may take weeks to months to show effect depending on the damage incurred by your skin.

How To Repair A Smoker's Skin?

Some of the major skin issues faced by smokers are premature skin ageing, skin barrier depletion and smoking-induced hyperpigmentation. To repair such damages, merely quitting smoking might not be enough. Following the below-mentioned natural, homemade and Ayurvedic skin treatments can help to regain your skin’s original youth and glow.

A. Natural Methods To Repair Smoking Effects On Skin

1. Green Tea/ Milk Cleansing

To reverse smoking effects on the skin, cleanse it daily with green tea or milk. Green tea has amazing antioxidant properties that can combat free radical skin damage. Milk cleansing helps reduce hyperpigmentation and increases skin cell turnover.

2. Oatmeal/ Green Gram Exfoliation

Apart from removing dirt, zinc in oatmeal can prevent inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Green gram improves your skin tone and the Vitamin A and C in it helps your skin recover quickly from the side effects of smoking.

How To Use

Grind oatmeal and mix it with yoghurt and exfoliate your skin. For green gram, soak it overnight and blend it into a coarse paste and exfoliate.

3. Face Masks

Opt for face masks that contain skin healing ingredients like ginseng, aloe vera, ginger, citrus extracts, onion extracts, cucumber, berries, Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These ingredients contain natural depigmenting, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can repair smoking effects on the skin.

4. Moisturizing

As smoking breaks down the epidermal barrier, your skin could be more prone to dryness and sensitivity. Use a herbal moisturizer twice daily to protect your skin from environmental damage.

5. Sunscreen

Skin affected by smoking is more prone to sun damage. Opt for a non-comedogenic sunscreen of above SPF 30 with Vitamin E for better skin benefits.

B. Home Remedies To Reverse Effects Of Smoking On Skin

1. Papaya And Honey

Papain is a miraculous skin brightening compound naturally found in papaya. Both papaya and honey are moisturizing in nature which helps fight the ill effects of smoking on the skin.

How To Use

  • Mash a ripe papaya and add honey to it.
  • Apply on your face and wash off after 30 minutes.

2. Avocado, Cucumber And Aloe Vera

Avocado is a known collagen booster and is packed with the antioxidant Vitamin E. Cucumber helps reduce inflammation and soothes skin irritations with its cooling effect. Aloe vera evens out skin tone, moisturizes and prevents minor infections.

How To Use

  • Blend a ripe avocado and cucumber and add fresh aloe vera gel to it.
  • Apply on your skin and wash off after half an hour.

3. Almond, Yogurt, And Olive Oil

Rich sources of Vitamin E, both almond and olive oil have amazing skin repairing abilities. Yogurt further moisturizes, removes dead skin cells and enhances skin tone.

How To Use

  • Soak almonds overnight.
  • Blend them with yogurt and add a few drops of olive oil to them.
  • Apply on the face and wash off after 20 to 30 minutes.

C. Ayurvedic Treatments To Restore Skin Health

According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, regular consumption of tobacco can affect the fine balance of your Doshas (life energies). It can cause toxin deposition in your blood and tissues. Blood detoxification and regular application of ancient herbal lepas can gradually restore your skin to its original health.

Depigmenting Herbs

Sr. No

Herb

Skin Benefits

How To Use

1.

Yashtimadhu

Lightens hyperpigmentation, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.

Apply yashtimadhu powder with milk.

2.

Palandu

Lightens skin tone, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory.

Make a paste and apply directly on the skin.

3.

Kumkuma

Skin brightening, helps wound healing, fights sun damage.

Soak in milk and apply.

4.

Chandanam

Reduces hyperpigmentation, treats skin irritations.

Make a paste with milk or water and apply it on your skin.

Anti-Ageing Herbs

5.

Japa

Boosts collagen synthesis, moisturizes, reduces skin irritation.

Make a paste and apply.

6.

Triphala

Antioxidant properties, removes toxin build-ups, prevents skin ageing.

Mix triphala powder with coconut oil and apply.

7.

Turmeric

Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial, skin brightening.

Make a paste with milk/ honey and apply.

8.

Gotu Kola

Improves blood circulation, can treat varicose veins, tightens skin, prevents skin-ageing, and moisturizes.

Mix gotu kola powder with ghee or coconut oil and apply.

Blood Purifying Herbs

9.

Manjistha

Blood purifier, anti-ageing, detoxifying, fights free radical damage.

Can be taken orally or applied topically with ghee or honey.

10.

Neem

Anti-microbial, blood purifier.

Can be taken orally or applied topically as a paste.

11.

Guduchi

Anti-ageing, detoxifying, fights pigmentation, anti-inflammatory.

Can be taken orally or applied topically. Can be applied on skin with coconut oil.

Vedix Tip: To reverse the effects of smoking on the skin, consume 1 teaspoon of triphala and manjistha powder with honey every morning.

How To Restore Skin Radiance After Quitting Smoking?

face of woman with wrinkles before and after treatment

1. Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water to counter the drying effect of nicotine on your skin.

2. Switch your coffee with green tea/ hibiscus tea/ chamomile tea to detoxify, boost collagen and reverse ageing in your body.

3. To reverse smoking effects on your skin, include the ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot) juice in your daily breakfast routine. These superfoods are not just nutrient rich but also help flush out nicotine residues and toxins from your body.

4. Have an antioxidant rich diet to scavenge out the free radicals caused by tobacco smoke. Daily intake of foods such as berries, amla, citrus fruits, pomegranate, papaya, avocados, kiwi, mangoes, spinach, artichokes, broccoli, coriander, kale and others can slowly reverse the side effects of smoking on the skin.

5. Include Vitamin D, K, Omega 3, Zinc and Magnesium as well. These help in cell regeneration, collagen building, reduce inflammation, reverse skin ageing and fight infection in your body, thus boosting your overall skin health.

Does Quitting Smoking Help To Improve Your Skin?

Once you stop smoking, your body naturally begins its healing process, the effects of which can be gradually noticed within a few weeks. As residues of toxins, tar particles and nicotine are flushed out of your system, the ill effects of smoking on the skin begin to reverse. The subcutaneous blood flow is no longer constricted, allowing nutrition and oxygen to reach your skin.

Cell regeneration, collagen and elastin synthesis resume to give your skin back its original vitality. The number of free radicals also decreases, making your skin look young, even-toned, supple and wrinkle-free.

How Long Does It Take To Heal Skin From Smoking?

The time taken by your skin to heal from the effects of smoking may vary depending on the damage done to it. After quitting, you should be able to notice improvement within the first few weeks. For a more noticeable change, you may have to wait a couple of months.

The Last Word

With over 7000 harmful chemicals and around 70 known carcinogens [7], the damaging effects of smoking on the skin is undeniable. Quitting smoking and adhering to a healthy lifestyle can gradually reverse such deleterious effects. In addition to that, a Dosha balancing diet and a rejuvenating herbal skincare routine can quicken the healing process of your skin.

Know Your Dosha Now

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