Stress and smoking: two factors that contribute to premature skin aging
The skin is the largest organ of the body, and its main function can be guessed from its structure: to protect us from external aggressions.
For some reasons, this natural barrier can deteriorate and lose quality when carrying out this essential function. In the previous article, for example, we talked about how eczema could lead to bacterial infections if the skin was not properly looked after. You can read it here.
Depending on their origin, the factors that affect the state of our skin can be classified in two main groups:
- Endogenous (or internal) factors. They are related to genetics and the configuration of the organism itself.
- Exogenous (or external) factors. They are easier to identify than endogenous ones since they are related to our lifestyle. Some examples are stress and smoking, which damage the skin and contribute to premature aging.
The effects of stress on the skin
Stress is our body response to psychological pressure. Thus, certain situations and events can cause stress, especially when experiencing something new, unexpected or that threatens our identity.1
Clearly, stress is an element that has its origin in our lifestyle. Therefore, it is considered an exogenous factor.
Why does stress affect our skin?
In recent years, it has been shown that there is a relationship between the brain and the skin. The discipline in charge of studying this relationship is neurodermatology.
The skin is actively involved in the stress response through peripheral nerve endings and local skin cells, such as mast cells, which are activated under these conditions and in turn, produce stress hormones and pro-inflammatory elements such as cytokines. This could lead to a loop of inflammatory events. Mast cells have been implicated in numerous skin diseases, including acne, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis.2
This way, stress accelerates the breakdown of collagen and elastin, and contributes to premature skin aging in the form of wrinkles and loss of firmness.
The effects of smoking on the skin
Tobacco is an important risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. According to the WHO, more than 8 million people die from smoking each year, including non-smokers who are exposed to smoke.3
In addition to cardiovascular and respiratory consequences, epidemiological studies indicate that smoking also has effects on the skin. It is another exogenous factor that also induces premature aging of the skin.4
Why does smoking affect our skin?
Tobacco is made up of toxic substances with various effects.
On the one hand, nicotine narrows the blood vessels and consequently reduces the flow of oxygen and nutrients that reach the skin cells.
On the other hand, the extract of tobacco smoke is soluble in water and alters the biosynthesis of collagen, which affects the elasticity of the skin. Metalloproteases, enzymes responsible for the degradation of collagen, are induced by tobacco smoke extract as it is consumed. In addition, tobacco smoke contains other non-water soluble components that activate the aryl hydrocarbon (AhR) pathway, which plays a key role in premature aging.5
Why is it important to maintain a stress-free and tobacco-free skin?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the post, both stress and smoking are exogenous factors related to our lifestyle that alter our skin, contributing to its premature aging.
Unlike other factors that do not depend on us, in this case we can control and avoid them. And if, in addition, we incorporate the appropriate products into our care habits, we can achieve a healthier and stronger skin more prepared to fulfill the function of protecting ourselves.
At Prospera Biotech we rely on neurodermatological research to develop neurocosmetic products specifically designed for the care of sensitive skin. Do you Want to know them?
- Mental Health Foundation. Stress. 2021
- Chen Y, Lyga J. Brain-skin connection: stress, inflammation, and skin aging. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2014;13(3):177-90.
- World Health Organization (WHO). Tobacco. 2021.
- Mayo Clinic. Quit smoking expert opinion. 2021.
- Morita A, Torii K, Maeda A, Yamaguchi Y. Molecular basis of tobacco smoke-induced premature skin aging. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2009 Aug;14(1):53-5.