Smoking — Acne?
Originally Published: November 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: July 6, 2007
Does smoking promote or cause acne or breakouts?
Dear Pimpled Puffer,
There isn't much information about the link between smoking and acne, and the studies that have been done have conflicting results. Some have shown no correlation at all; some have concluded that smoking aggravates acne; and at least one concluded that smoking may actually have an anti-inflammatory effect and improve acne.
You may want to try to quit smoking and see if your acne improves — you don't have much to lose. On the other hand, it's not a good idea to keep smoking on the chance that you might puff your pimples away — the evidence is contradictory. Plus, all of the negative effects of smoking far outweigh any potential benefit.
Although the correlation between smoking and acne is unclear, smoking can lead to a slew of other health-related problems, including ones that adversely affect the skin. These may include:
- grey skin
- yellowing/browning of the skin and nails
- poor wound healing
- increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer)
If your acne is bothering you, you may want to see a dermatologist to discuss treatment options. If you're a Columbia student, you can make an appointment to be assessed for a referral by calling Primary Care Medical Services at x4-2284 or logging-in through Open Communicator. For more information about the health effects of smoking, or for help quitting, check out the Nicotine section of the Alcohol & Other Drugs archive.