How Smoking Can Aggravate Psoriasis

If you suffer from the skin condition known as psoriasis, you should be aware that smoking can worsen it. While most people know that smoking is terrible for the skin in a number of different ways, many don’t know that it can actually cause and aggravate psoriasis.

A new study proves that those who smoke a pack or more of cigarettes in a day are two times as likely to suffer from severe psoriasis than those who smoke ten cigarettes or less in a day.

What Is Plaque Psoriasis

Those who conducted this research argue that the results prove that cigarette smoking can worsen an existing psoriasis condition. It sheds light on the importance of smoking cessation especially for those who suffer from psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis is a skin disease that produce itchy scaly patches on the skin. Oftentimes these are red in color and they can spread all the way to the nails and joints. The study also shows that the impact of smoking was more significant for women who suffer from mild plaque psoriasis than men. The risk of psoriasis worsening for female smokers was an astonishing 72 percent.

Smoking Can Cause And Worsen Psoriasis

The results of this study aren’t exactly groundbreaking.  Studies have linked smoking with the exacerbation of psoriasis for decades.  Smoking can also cause psoriasis.  A study published in the

American Journal of Epidemiology in 2012 shows that smokers have double the risk of developing psoriasis versus those who don’t light up.  That’s a remarkable statistic.  So smoking can worsen psoriasis and heighten one’s risk of suffering from this chronic skin disease as well.

Genes, Stress And The Immune System

Scientists believe that smoking actually triggers the genes of those with a genetic tendency for psoriasis to become active.  They also argue that those who smoke tend to feel more stressed.  Stress is one of the primary triggers for psoriasis.  Nicotine has a negative impact on the immune system so it can be partially attributed to the connection between psoriasis and smoking.

It is also worth noting that cigarettes contain all sorts of harmful ingredients that likely cause cell damage known as oxidative damage.  Scientists believe that this cell damage is also part of the reason why smoking cigarettes makes psoriasis worse.

Smoking And Psoriatic Arthritis

Those who suffer from psoriatic arthritis will endure even worse effects from smoking cigarettes.  These people are far less likely to obtain the ideal and intended responses from certain treatments like biologic medications. The blame is placed squarely on the impact of cigarettes.

Second Hand Smoke And Psoriasis

It’s not just the act of smoking that can boost the risk for psoriasis.  The famous Nurses’ Health Study II examined 78,000 nurses over the course of 14 years.  It shows that those who smoked had a heightened risk for psoriasis. Those who quit smoking significantly reduced the odds of continued psoriasis.

Of special importance was the increased psoriasis risk of the nurses who were exposed to secondhand smoke as children.  This is a cautionary tale for parents who smoke around their children.

+Dr.Lee  Eberting is a board certified dermatologist who has dedicated her career to research and treatment of skin ailments. She writes regularly at