Beware, smoking can affect your skin and worsen psoriasis
There is growing evidence that people living with psoriasis ought to be extra careful before lighting up a cigarette. While quitting smoking doesn’t cure psoriasis, smoking aggravates the symptoms and may make the disease significantly worse.
According to Dr Abir Saraswat, National Coordinator, Special Interest Group — Psoriasis, Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL), “Smoking, in general, is a huge risk factor for developing psoriasis, affecting the onset of psoriasis and its clinical appearance. Moreover, many psoriasis patients tend to smoke to cope with the emotional and mental implications of the disease — such as stress or anxiety — which negatively affect psoriasis. This vicious circle of stress and smoking triggers the disease even further.”
According to a study, smoking doubles a person’s risk of developing psoriasis which eventually increases with the number of cigarettes smoked per day. This number is higher in women than men. The risk for psoriasis in women who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day is about 2.5 times greater than that in non-smokers. For men, the risk is about 1.7 times greater than non-smokers.
Things to know
• Apart from nicotine, nickel (another ingredient in cigarette smoke) can also contribute towards psoriasis worsening as a result of heavy metal toxicity in your body.
• While dealing with psoriasis, a person goes through emotional stress and habits like smoking can stretch the stress period and worsen the situation.
• Smoking can reduce the level of moisture in your skin, making it dry and itchy.
The bottom line
• If you don’t smoke, don’t start, especially if you are a woman. You have a higher risk of developing psoriasis than men.
• If you do smoke, consider quitting — you may have a higher likelihood of remission.
• Focus on positive, healthy ways to cope with stress and anxiety. Try meditation, counselling, sleep adequately, eat healthy and exercise. It’s never too late to stop.
It is not easy to quit smoking or tobacco, but it’s definitely worth trying to improve your health. The study that found smoking increases risk of psoriasis also showed that giving up significantly reduced the risk of psoriasis — after 20 years it was at the same level as people who had never lighted a cigarette in their life. In fact, one may see an improvement in the skin in a matter of weeks as blood flow improves, and levels of nutrients are restored.
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