You probably know a great deal about the danger of smoking. And, if you're a smoker, your list of reasons to quit may be long. Here's yet another incentive to kick the habit: Smoking cigarettes may lead to psoriasis.
The Effects of Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a disorder that, among other things, causes skin cells to grow more rapidly than they should. Thus, if you have psoriasis, you'll have too many cells on your skin's surface, and they'll show up as patches and scales.
This condition causes unpleasant symptoms such as skin dryness, flaking, redness, soreness, and itchiness. Lesions can appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp and genitalia. Fingernails and toenails can become discolored, and they sometimes crumble or fall off entirely. If you're experiencing any of these problems, you should see a doctor as soon as you can.
An odd characteristic of psoriasis is that its symptoms can appear, disappear, and reappear. Indeed, you might struggle with them for a few weeks or a few months only to see them vanish for a while. In rare cases, they'll go away and won't return.
A Link Between Smoking and Psoriasis
In 1999, dermatologist Luigi Naldi released the results of a study that examined smoking and psoriasis. Naldi's team concluded that smoking was largely responsible for about 20 percent of psoriasis cases. Moreover, these researchers discovered that a smoker's odds of suffering from this condition are approximately twice as high as a nonsmoker's. Subsequent studies have confirmed these findings.
Simply stated, the more cigarettes you smoke per day, the greater your chances of getting psoriasis. And, because smoking seems to exacerbate this disorder, heavy smokers are more likely to experience severe cases.
Why is there a relationship between cigarettes and psoriasis? It's not entirely clear to medical researchers, although some theories exist. For one, nicotine can worsen inflammation of the skin, making it ripe for this condition.
In addition, psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, and nicotine can modify how the immune system behaves. Perhaps it affects immune system functioning in a way that causes it to attack healthy skin cells.
Tobacco smoke might also lead to oxidative stress, an imbalance in the body between helpful particles called antioxidants and harmful substances called free radicals. As a result, skin tissue could become damaged.
Giving Up Smoking: Not a Cure-All, Yet Very Beneficial
There are some caveats to keep in mind here. First, more research is needed into the connection between psoriasis and cigarettes. Second, other lifestyle factors, including stress and alcohol intake, seem to induce psoriasis as well. Third, abstaining from cigarettes may not have much effect on cases of psoriatic arthritis, a form of the disease that affects joints as well as skin. Fourth, quitting smoking won't cure this disorder entirely. In fact, at this time, no cure for psoriasis exists. Lastly, the severity of psoriasis is also associated with increases in a person’s weight. So, if you quit smoking but gain weight, that may negate the benefit of being a non-smoker.
Nevertheless, when you're no longer smoking, the chances of your psoriasis symptoms diminishing or vanishing will increase. For sure, that's a significantly positive development for your overall health, just one of many that smoke-free living can provide.
Psoriasis Treatment at CDCRI in San Diego
Finally, if you're interested in obtaining the latest and most effective treatments for psoriasis and similar skin conditions, know that you can get in touch with California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute anytime you'd like. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839.