The Relationship Between Smoking And Eczema

Is There A Link Between Smoking And Eczema?

There is a huge divide on opinion when it comes to smoking. In recent times, laws concerning health, in many countries throughout the world, have been enacted to prevent smoking in enclosed spaces. We take it for granted nowadays that you can not smoke in pubs, shops and bars etc. However, what is not often discussed is the general health issues smoking causes. There is a definite link for example between smoking and eczema, and other skin conditions.

Eczema and Smoking

Cigarette Toxins Impact On Eczema

The vast majority of people reading this article will have been exposed, in varying degrees, to cigarette smoke either directly or indirectly. However, you don’t have to be a smoker to suffer from skin conditions relating to smoking. You just have to be in its environment and exposed to the toxins in the air. If you are a smoker, the impact to your skin is obviously greater.

A cigarette will contain, on average, a potent combination of over 4000 chemicals, the majority of which are toxic to the human body. They can cause anything from eczema to cancer, and are a huge risk to smokers and others breathing in those toxins.

The problem is, smoking is a slow killer and doesn’t have an immediate negative impact on your appearance. So people smoke in the opinion it doesn’t harm them. However, if you have an allergic reaction to smoking such as eczema, then at least you have a visual warning.

Smoking And Eczema Issues

It’s not just the tobacco that releases these toxins, it is also the cigarette paper the tobacco is wrapped within and the filters through which these toxins are supposed to be stopped from entering the body. The fact is, filters do not filter out the vast majority of these harmful toxins.

When inhaled, the immediate area of your body at risk is the lungs. The lungs absorb these toxins which are then carried through the blood stream to every organ in your body. into the lungs, and are thus distributed not only throughout the various areas of the user’s body, but also to people nearby as second-hand smoke.

The most harmful & poisonous ingredients in cigarettes:

  • Nicotine – A stimulant drug also used as a natural pesticide
  • Ammonia – A strong cleaning agent
  • Butane – Lighter fluid
  • Methanol – Rocket fuel
  • Tar – Used as a road cover
  • Formaldehyde – An industrial fungicide and used to make building materials
  • Arsenic – An extremely poisonous product used in industrial applications
  • Carbon monoxide – Car exhaust
  • Hydrogen cyanide – Used for fumigation
  • Cadmium – A heavy metal which is used in batteries

Evidence Supports The Link Between Smoking And Eczema

In 2015, the department of dermatology at the Northwest University Feinberg School of Medicine amalgamated 26yrs of research study, comprising of 680,176 people. They wanted to investigate the correlation between exposure to smoking and eczema (atopic dermatitis).

Almost 10% of the persons studied in the amalgamated studies were diagnosed with having atopic dermatitis. The chances of getting this skin condition rose in those that were not only active smokers, but who were also exposed to second-hand passive smoke.


Other studies found that a persons DNA mutates at a rapid pace when smoking over time. This is commonly known in the medical world when looking at cancer, lung and respiratory conditions. However, new studies concluded that smoking can be a primary cause of atopic dermatitis (eczema).

The Effects Of Smoking On The Body

Given the large number of toxins inhaled into the body for every cigarette smoked, it is little surprise that there will be serious detriment to ones health. But, what are those detrimental effects?

Nightshades and Salicylates

Nightshades and Salicylates are found in many foods and can be the cause of a lot of skin conditions if you are intolerant of them. The reason this is relevant to smoking is the fact that tobacco contains both nightshades & salicylates.

Reactions to nightshades may include; irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, joint pain, skin reactions and an altered nerve sensation. While evidence is relatively limited, there is a possible link between nightshades and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Reaction to salicylates can occur through contact with a plant based product such as tobacco. This is known as salicylate sensitivity, with typical reactions including:

  • Wheezing or breathing difficulties
  • Nasal congestion
  • Alterations to skin colour
  • Hives or itching skin
  • Sore or swollen eyes
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Altered mood, such as depression
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Swelling of mouth, face, hands, feet or eyes
  • It is thought that salicylate sensitivity could be, in part, caused by a deficiency in zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.

Faster Aging Process & Slower healing

The impact of nicotine on the health of the body and particularly the skin is well documented. Nicotine causes a restriction of blood flow around the body causing veins and arteries to narrow and disease to set in. Not only is smoking and toxins therein dangerous to your overall health, but it also detrimentally effects the ability of the skin to heal quickly. This makes sense when you learn that the process is heavily reliant upon blood and oxygen flow.

Vein Damage

The bodies ability to heal eczema is highly restricted by the reduction in blood flow. This means that the eczema stays for longer if you are a smoker or a passive smoker. If you have open wounds from scratching or open lesions, then the healing time process is compounded further.

Not only does smoking and its poisonous toxins contribute to the inability for your skin to heal, but it also supercharges a persons aging process and can be a major cause of sagging skin. This is obviously the ‘not so glamorous’ and cool side of smoking, that no one ever talks about!

Poor Sleep & Agitation

A study published by the American College of Chest Physicians concluded that smokers are four times more likely to suffer from poor sleep or sleep deprivation, than those that don’t smoke at all. They also concluded that smokers suffered a general feeling of unrest after waking, on account that they had spent less time in a deep sleep.

The reason for these findings and conclusions is said to be derived from the over stimulating nature of nicotine. Because the stimulant is rarely out of a smokers system, the ability to deep sleep is decreased.

Deep sleeping is when the body finds time to rejuvenate itself. It is a crucial time for the body to heal and repair the body, internally and externally. When the skin is already at a deficit from reduced blood flow and oxygen supply, then missing out on a good deep sleep can exacerbate further any skin condition, especially eczema.

Second-hand Smoking And Eczema

Second-hand smoking, breathing in the smoke and toxins of others cigarettes, has been proven to be detrimental to the health to those that inhale it. This is the major reason why smoking has been in most ‘closed’ public areas across the world such as; bars, restaurants, public transport etc.

If you are continuously or are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke and are nightshades and/or salicylates intolerant, amongst other things, then you will be at an increased risk of getting eczema.

In Closing…

The correlation between smoking and eczema is quite stark, given the evidence from scientific and medical studies. Eczema is hard enough to live with, without the added issues of being exposed to cigarette smoke toxins.

So, if you have learnt anything today from this article, stay away from cigarette smokers and their ‘nasty little friends’ and if you do smoke, try and give it up, for the sake of your skin, your health and your looks!

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