Psoriasis is a disease characterized by inflammation triggered by the immune system. Research shows that smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis and impacts the severity of the condition for those who already have it.

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Smoking can also impact how those with psoriasis respond to treatment.

This article will explore the link between smoking and psoriasis, what the research says, and how quitting smoking can help.

More than 8 million people in the United States have psoriasis, an immune-related condition that can cause inflammatory skin disease. This can take the form of scales, or plaques, on the skin.

Some people who have psoriasis also develop psoriatic psoriasis, which causes problems in their joints.

The exact reason behind the immune response that causes psoriasis is unknown. However, several factors can cause psoriasis to develop.

Experts think that the interaction of certain genes is a factor, and researchers have uncovered more than 80 genes that they believe play a role in the condition. They also think that the immune system and environmental factors are involved.

Risk factors include lifestyle habits, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle. People who have psoriasis already have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Experts know that smoking is a risk factor for both of these conditions.

People who have ever smoked, currently smoke, or smoked in the past have a greater risk of developing psoriasis than their peers who have never smoked.

Palmoplantar pustulosis is a rare condition related to psoriasis in which fluid-filled pustules develop on the palms and the soles of the feet. It has associations with smoking, and according to an older report, 95% of people with this condition are smokers at the onset of this disease.

Researchers believe that psoriasis may develop when the immune system changes due to a triggering event. Smoking could play a role in this.

A cigarette contains roughly 600 ingredients, and when burned, it can create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals cause cancer.

Tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes, contain nicotine. Some reports indicate that nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol.

Other studies have shown that nicotine has a significant impact on the immune system and can alter immune responses in the body.

Numerous studies have proven that smoking not only increases a person’s risk of developing psoriasis but also worsens symptoms.

In one 2012 study, researchers evaluated the association between smoking and psoriasis among 185,836 people as part of the Nurses’ Health Study (which ran from 1996–2008), the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991–2005), and the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study (1986–2006). The participants were older women, younger women, and men, respectively.

The researchers found that smoking was an independent risk factor for psoriasis in both men and women. Those who were heavy smokers and those who had smoked for a longer duration had an amplified risk of developing psoriasis. The risk of developing psoriasis was highest among those who had smoked for 30 or more years.

A 2020 meta-analysis found that people who have ever smoked, currently smoke, or smoked in the past had a higher risk of developing psoriasis than their peers who have never smoked.

The same study also found that those who had ever smoked and had psoriasis were less likely to show improvement in their disease 6 months after starting treatment with biologic agents than non-smokers.

This suggests that smoking impacts the efficacy of biologic agent treatments among ever smokers with psoriasis.

A Danish study found that people with psoriatic arthritis who currently smoked or used to smoke had worse baseline outcomes. Those who were current smokers also experienced a poorer response to tumor necrosis factor a inhibitor therapy (TNFi) and adhered to treatment for less time than their non-smoking peers.

Smoking can lead to serious health problems. Although smoking is addictive, it is possible to cease smoking for good. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that since 2002 there have been more former smokers than current smokers.

Smoking harms nearly all organs in the body and can lead to serious diseases and complications. Studies have shown that smoking can cause psoriasis and worsen psoriasis symptoms.

Quitting smoking can decrease the risk of developing psoriasis. One older study found that the risk of psoriasis among those who once smoked but had not smoked for 20 years had a decreased risk of developing psoriasis similar to the risk level of those who had never smoked.

Scientists do not yet know if quitting smoking will improve symptoms of psoriasis. A study at King’s College London in the United Kingdom is currently underway to examine the impact that quitting smoking can have on psoriasis symptoms.

The researchers expect their experiments will demonstrate that chromosome changes seen in the skin of those with psoriasis have links to smoke. They also hypothesize that ceasing smoking can reverse the chromosomal changes triggered by tobacco.

They are hopeful their findings will provide scientific reasoning for introducing stop-smoking programs among those with psoriasis.

Anyone who wishes to stop smoking or is concerned about their health should speak with their doctor.

Smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis. It also worsens symptoms of psoriasis and can adversely impact how those with psoriasis respond to treatment.

Psoriasis has associations with an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease, and smoking is a known risk factor for both of these conditions.

Studies have demonstrated that stopping smoking lessens the chance of developing psoriasis. As a result, experts on psoriasis advise people to stop smoking.

Studies are underway to determine whether stopping smoking can improve psoriasis symptoms.