It is estimated that around 6% of US adults say they have vaped. While still not as common as smoking cigarettes, it’s fair to say that vaping has grown in popularity over the last decade.
Marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, there’s still a lot of research going into the health consequences of regular vaping. Most notably, there are concerns regarding its effect on the face. Already, many studies have concluded that vaping does have detrimental consequences on your face and skin. But, how exactly is your face affected, and can you do anything to protect it?
What is vaping?
Vaping is a term that’s used to describe the act of using a vape device. These are sometimes called e-cigarettes, and the science behind them is rather simple.
The device will contain a liquid (often referred to as e-liquid) that’s made up of numerous things, such as:
- Various other chemicals
Each vape will house a power unit that works to heat up the liquid, turning it into vapor. This gives the appearance of smoke and can be inhaled and then blown out. Despite being marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking, there are still around 22 toxic substances found in vape devices and e-cigarettes.
How does vaping affect your face?
Regularly using a vape device has been shown to have damaging effects on your face. Specifically, it causes complications with your skin. One recent study has found that people who regularly use e-cigarettes are more likely to suffer from contact dermatitis.
Contact dermatitis is a specific type of eczema that is triggered when your skin comes into contact with certain substances. Some of the symptoms associated with it include incredibly dry skin, skin irritation, and redness. When you vape, the heated-up liquid transforms into a vapor that still contains all of the chemicals and toxic substances. In turn, these substances come into contact with your face, which can trigger contact dermatitis.
Alongside this, there are some arguments that claim vaping makes your face look older. Again, this is down to all of the chemicals and toxins present in the e-liquids. When you expose your skin barrier to so many chemicals or toxins, it begins to break down and suffer from damage. As a consequence, this could lead to the following:
- Redness & inflammation
- Collagen loss
- Aging skin
In fact, some of the current evidence out there suggests that vaping can be just as bad for your skin as cigarette smoking.
Vaping effects on the skin in general
Of course, it’s not just your face that’s affected by vaping. The skin all over your body can suffer if you consistently keep up this habit. Much like on your face, the biggest problem is dry skin. Your skin lacks the moisture needed to maintain its normal levels of hydration, leading to patches of skin that are very dry and irritable.
You can also suffer from rashes and red marks because of constant exposure to vaping, and it is likely that other areas of your skin will show the early signs of aging. Most notably, it tends to affect your neck and chest.
Most of the skin conditions can be put down to the nicotine content in vape devices. While diluted in a liquid, it is still damaging to your skin. The nicotine that comes into contact with your skin is going to dehydrate it. This causes the dryness mentioned above, and studies have shown a direct link between nicotine and skin aging. Moreover, the same studies have also concluded that nicotine accelerates skin aging, which is why vaping is likely to make your skin look more mature.
What are the other side effects of vaping?
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other side effects of vaping.
One study from 2019 looked at the link between e-cigarette usage and respiratory problems. It found that there were a huge number of cases where people suffered from lung disease after using vape products on a regular basis. Furthermore, the study went on to discover that just five minutes of vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs.
As if that wasn’t enough, another study reviewed the effect of vaping on the cardiovascular system. The findings were rather shocking, detailing that vaping was associated with several toxic effects at molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, and system level. Using vape devices increased blood pressure and boosted the chances of suffering from a heart attack.
The big problem with vaping is that there is hardly any research out there compared to the research done on cigarette smoking. If you think back decades ago, almost everyone smoked and it wasn’t seen as a big deal because the research wasn’t there to tell us how bad it was. As more and more studies into vaping take place, there are worries that the side effects will mount up.
How to protect your face and skin?
To start, you should limit your vaping as much as possible. Similarly, it is helpful if you choose a nicotine-free liquid to use with your vapes. This will at least protect your skin from the harmful effects of nicotine. Alongside this, pay close attention to the ingredients listed on e-liquids, opting for products that have as few chemicals as possible.
It is also a good idea to cleanse your skin after vaping, helping to remove the toxins and chemicals that come into contact with your face. Applying moisturizer is also helpful to protect your skin barrier and prevent dehydration.
When should you see a doctor?
You should see a doctor if you notice any skin conditions that weren’t present before you started vaping. This includes inflammation/redness, dry skin, skin that’s aging quickly, acne, and so on.
Get help from an online doctor
Instead of waiting to book an appointment with a regular doctor, you can save time and money by choosing an online doctor. We at DrHouse have qualified dermatologists that are ready to provide virtual consultations to help you figure out what’s wrong with your skin. From here, you will be prescribed the right course of treatment to fight your skin condition and reverse the effects.
In conclusion, a lot of evidence suggests that vaping causes dry skin, and can accelerate aging when done on a consistent basis. This is mainly down to nicotine and various other chemicals present in vape liquids. Constant use is also linked to problems with both your respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
- Z. Hrynowski, M. Brenan. What Percentage of Americans Vape? Gallup. Available from: https://news.gallup.com/poll/267413/percentage-americans-vape.aspx
- Rehan Harmeet, Maini Jahnavi, Hungin Amrit (2018). Vaping versus Smoking: A Quest for Efficacy and Safety of E-Cigarette. Current Drug Safety, Volume 13, Number 2, 2018, pp. 92-101(10). Available from: https://doi.org/10.2174/1574886313666180227110556
- What is contact dermatitis? National Eczema Association. Available from: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/types-of-eczema/contact-dermatitis/
- Andia Mitri, Gloria Lin, Reid A. Waldman, Jane M. Grant-Kels (2021). Effects of tobacco and vaping on the skin. Clinics in Dermatology, volume 39, Issue 5, 2021, pages 762-771. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clindermatol.2021.05.004
- Misery, L. (2004), Nicotine effects on skin: Are they positive or negative?. Experimental Dermatology, 13: 665-670. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0906-6705.2004.00274.x
- Xie W, Kathuria H, Galiatsatos P, Blaha MJ, Hamburg NM, Robertson RM, Bhatnagar A, Benjamin EJ, Stokes AC. Association of Electronic Cigarette Use With Incident Respiratory Conditions Among US Adults From 2013 to 2018. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 Nov 2;3(11):e2020816.Available from: https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.20816. PMID: 33180127;
- Peruzzi M, Biondi-Zoccai G, Carnevale R, Cavarretta E, Frati G, Versaci F. Vaping Cardiovascular Health Risks: an Updated Umbrella Review. Curr Emerg Hosp Med Rep. 2020;8(3):103-109. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40138-020-00219-0
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