Is Vaping Bad for Your Skin?

Electronic cigarettes, also known as “e-cigs,” “vape pens,” and “mods,” have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. Many people who used to smoke traditional cigarettes or use chewing tobacco have turned to these devices as a “safer” alternative. Additionally, many teens and young adults are picking up these devices for the first time, thinking they are cool and safe to use. 

However, e-cigarettes are anything but safe. As of October 2019, there have been 1,888 cases of lung injury associated with these products, as well as 37 deaths across 24 states. While these serious health risks have made headlines across the country, another less-discussed problem has been brought to light: skin damage caused by vaping. 

Researchers have found that vaping can lead to a variety of skin problems, from severe burns to accelerated aging. 

What Is Vaping?

Vaping is the act of inhaling aerosol created from various liquids using a small hand-held device called an e-cigarette. These devices contain a heating coil, which usually contains nickel. That coil is heated up using a rechargeable lithium battery, which then turns the liquid inside the cartridge into a vapor. The user then inhales the particles into his or her lungs. 

It is important to note that vape pens can contain any number of substances, from nicotine to non-nicotine flavors, to CBD and THC. Regardless of the contents of the liquid, the act of inhaling vapor causes lung damage and poses a serious threat to your health. 

How Does Vaping Affect Your Skin?

E-cigarettes not only pose a threat to your overall health, but they can also be detrimental to your skin. Early research published in a 2019 paper has shown evidence of several skin issues directly associated with vaping.

Burns and Other Injuries 

Most electronic cigarettes contain lithium batteries that are designed to hold a charge for long periods of time. These batteries allow the internal heating coils to become hot, thus turning the liquid into vapor. However, there have been many reported instances where these batteries malfunction, causing fires, explosions, and burns to the skin. 

An effect called thermal runway has also been reported with the use of e-cigarettes. Thermal runway occurs when the temperature of the device rises enough to cause burns on the skin without catching fire. 

Contact Dermatitis

Nickel is a known allergen and can cause allergic contact dermatitis when it comes into contact with the skin. Because nickel is found in the heating coil inside of e-cigarette devices, some users have reported redness, itching, and scaling on the hand that they hold the device with. Redness and swelling of the lips may also occur. 

Oral Mucosal Lesions (OML)

Oral mucosal lesions, or OMLs, are known to develop in both smokers and electronic cigarette users alike. In fact, researchers have found that e-cigarette users may be at an even greater risk for developing OMLs than traditional smokers. In particular, nicotine stomatitis, hyperplastic candidiasis, and black hairy tongue appear to be more prevalent in vapers compared to cigarette smokers. 

Decreased Ability to Heal

Nicotine has long been known to decrease the body’s ability to heal, which is why doctors ask that you quit smoking before and after a surgical procedure. By constricting blood vessels, nicotine restricts blood flow throughout your body. New evidence shows that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine have the same detrimental effect on the ability of your body and skin to effectively heal. 

Decreased blood flow can also cause cosmetic concerns such as dark circles under the eyes.

Accelerated Skin Aging 

Much like traditional cigarette smoking, vaping triggers free radical formation and a chronic inflammatory response within your body. Studies in mice also found that exposure to vaping liquids decreased the amount of powerful antioxidant glutathione found in the lungs, while simultaneously increasing inflammatory factors. 

Free radicals cause cells throughout your body – including skin cells – to break down and stop working much faster than they otherwise would. This can lead to accelerated signs of skin aging, such as lines and wrinkles and sagging skin.

Antioxidants are crucial compounds required to neutralize free radicals and stop a chain reaction of cellular damage. Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables in order to fuel your body with antioxidants. This may help to neutralize some of the detrimental effects of smoking and vaping. However, quitting altogether is the healthiest and safest choice. 

In Summary

Vaping is not a safe alternative to traditional tobacco use. This popular trend has been shown to cause lung damage and can have a number of adverse effects on your skin, such as burns, inflammation, redness and irritation, and increased aging. 

For more skincare news, advice, and how-to videos from Dr. Leslie Baumann, follow Baumann Cosmetic on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

©2019 Metabeauty, Inc.

December 5, 2019 Skincare