Is Smoking Cigarettes a Cause of Acne?

Acne and teen smoking
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Question: Is Smoking Cigarettes a Cause of Acne?


Some researchers believe yes, smoking may indeed be a cause of acne. Researchers at the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome, Italy, suggest smoking cigarettes causes acne breakouts, specifically non-inflamed blackheads and blocked pores.

The study indicates that among adults with acne, non-smokers were more likely to suffer from inflammatory acne.

Smokers, however, were much more likely to experience non-inflammatory breakouts. These findings point to what could be considered a new entity among smoking-related skin diseases, which researchers have dubbed "smoker's acne."

According to researchers, 42% of smokers suffered from acne, compared to 10% of non-smokers. But cigarette smokers seemed to develop non-inflamed acne at a much higher rate than other adult acne sufferers. Within the women in the study, three quarters of those with non-inflamed acne were smokers.

The number of cigarettes smoked didn't seem to have an effect on the severity of acne breakouts. But if women had experienced acne in their teen years, they were four times more likely to experience smoker's acne as an adult.

Among non-smokers who suffered from non-inflammatory acne, almost half (48.9%) were exposed to environmental factors, such as working in a steam-filled kitchen or being constantly exposed to smoke, that could have contributed to their acne.

Other findings include:

  • 76% of those with non-inflammatory were smokers
  • 91% of smokers who suffered from acne had the non-inflammatory form
  • Among those with severe non-inflammatory acne, 81% were smokers

One thousand women aged 25 to 50 took part in the study. The findings were published in the British Journal of Dermatology.


B. Capitanio, J.L. Sinagra, M. Ottaviani, V. Bordignon, A. Amantea, M. Picardo. "‘Smoker’s acne’: a new clinical entity?" British Journal of Dermatology. 2007; 157 (5): 1070-1071.

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