Cause of Cystic Acne: Is Smoking To Be Blamed?

cystic acne and smoking link does smoking cause adult acne on cheeksThere is a great debate surrounding smoking and if it is one of the causes of cystic acne on cheeks, jaw line etc. Nearly 20% of Americans, both men and women, smoke. It is essential to determine whether smoking indeed causes cystic acne so that sufferers of this skin condition can take steps to quit the habit.

Is there a link between cystic acne and smoking?

Nearly 20% of adults in the United States are also plagued by acne, but this group does not necessarily consist of smokers. Majority of the dermatologists are also getting acne patients in their office frequently asking whether they need to quit smoking in order to clear their acne.

Let us turn to scientific studies and researches to answer this question and see whether there is indeed a link between smoking and cystic acne on cheeks, nose, back or jaw line:

  1. A study conducted by the Dermatological Institute in Rome, Italy, found higher prevalence of acne in adult smokers. However, the study concluded that cigarette smoke mainly triggered blackheads and non-inflammatory acne on jaw line, cheeks etc.
  2. Several other scientific studies have conversely shown that smoking actually reduced acne breakouts. Also, cessation of smoking led to increased inflammatory acne breakouts in many smokers.
  3. Thirdly, many non-smokers (nearly 91% from the above test group) were found to suffer from inflammatory or cystic acne on cheeks.
  4. Nearly ¾ of the women in the same study also suffered from non-inflamed acne and they also happened to be smokers.
  5. 81% of the severe non-inflamed acne sufferers were smokers.

As per the same study, it did not matter how many cigarettes per day one smoked. The fact was that women who had broken out in their teenage years had greater chance of breaking out in adulthood. It was also established that non smokers suffering from inflamed or cystic acne had other causes for their skin condition: they were known to work in polluted environments such smoke filled kitchens etc.These factors were considered to contribute to cystic acne in non smokers.

A more recent study to determine the link between cystic acne and smoking was performed in 2009. Nearly 1046 women were considered for this study. This research too showed a strong link only between non inflammatory acne and smoking.

So what do these studies indicate? Do adult cystic acne sufferers have to give up smoking?

Most dermatologists are of a divided opinion. Many times, as a precaution, they ask their patients to check if cessation of smoking clears their skin up. That being said; smoking could still be bad for the skin as it ends up drying the cells leading to greater scarring and inflammation. Also, smoking is known to slow down the body’s natural healing processes and could also enhance skin’s wrinkling leading to premature aging.

On the other hand; many researchers are of the opinion that there may be no statistical difference between smokers and non smokers suffering from adult acne.In fact; many even concur that smoking moderately might actually protect the body from mouth sores, rosacea and even, to some degree, acne.

In conclusion

As is evident, the jury is still out deciding if smoking and cystic acne indeed has a connection.Majority of the studies on this topic haven’t given a definite conclusion as to whether smoking cessation could be helpful for sufferers of adult cystic acne. While no doctor will say for sure that one needs to give up smoking completely to see an improvement in acne, most will at least ask you to kick the habit since nicotine is proven to create free radicals that age the skin, reduce collagen and degrade the skin proteins. As a result, it is best to see a dermatologist for specialized adult cystic acne treatment.S/he might recommend personalized cleansing-toning-moisturizing and medication for individual needs to ensure that the cystic acne is treated once and for all.

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