Background: Cigarette smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death and disability in developed countries and is a significant public health concern. While known to be strongly associated with a number of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and cancers, smoking also leads to a variety of cutaneous manifestations.
Objective: This article reviews the effects of cigarette smoking on the skin and its appendages.
Methods: A literature review was based on a MEDLINE search (1966-2004) for English-language articles using the MeSH terms cutaneous, dermatology, tobacco, skin, and smoking. An additional search was subsequently undertaken for articles related to smoking and associated mucocutanous diseases, with the focus on pathogenesis and epidemiologic data. Articles presenting the highest level of evidence and latest reports were preferentially selected.
Results: Smoking is strongly associated with numerous dermatologic conditions including poor wound healing, wrinkling and premature skin aging, squamous cell carcinoma, psoriasis, hidradenitis suppurativa, hair loss, oral cancers, and other oral conditions. In addition, it has an impact on the skin lesions observed in diabetes, lupus, and AIDS. The evidence linking smoking and melanoma, eczema, and acne is inconclusive. Anecdotal data exist on the possible protective effects of smoking in oral/genital aphthosis of Behçet's disease, herpes labialis, pyoderma gangrenosum, acral melanoma, and Kaposi's sarcoma in AIDS patients.
Conclusions: An appreciation of the adverse cutaneous consequences of smoking is important. Dermatologists can play an integral role in promoting smoking cessation by providing expert opinion and educating the public on the deleterious effects of smoking on the skin.