Smoking Can Give You Boils!

Smoking is associated with a very large number of very bad things. Cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and assorted other diseases can be directly traced back to cigarette smoking. The negative associations are growing as skin problems are being connected to the habit.

Age Beef, Not Your Face

We know that smoking accelerates the aging process of the skin, causing smoker's lines around the mouth and wrinkles on the face. It actually has been shown to result in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure. Crow's feet, those little lines around the eyes, can develop at an early age for a smoker. Smokers' skin becomes dried out and course with uneven coloring and broken blood vessels. They end up appearing gaunt and developing an orange or grey complexion. By the age of 70, a person who smokes 30 cigarettes a day could have added an additional 14 years of skin aging.

While it isn't clear exactly how smoking accomplishes such profound ageing, a few theories do exist, such as heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin or that smoking causes changes in the elastic fibers of the skin. We do know that smoking constricts blood vessels and it likely does so in the face, which reduces the blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibers and loss of collagen. Smoking causes a reduction in vitamin A levels and reduces moisture to the skin.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa - Boils By Any Other Name Are Still Boils

But aging skin isn't the only skin issue now linked to smoking. Hidradenitis suppurativa is a condition that is characterized by the blockage of hair follicles that become abscessed and pain. The follicular plugging obstructs the apocrine gland ducts as well as the perifolliculitis around the ducts. The plugged ducts cause a backup of perspiration and bacteria into surrounding tissue causing inflammation and infection. Hiradenitis suppurativa is found in the areas of the body that contain apocrine glands - the armpits, groin, and top of the inner thighs, buttocks, and on the areola or under the breasts of women. It can also show up behind the ears, on the stomach, and in the hairline.

Varying Manifestations but Consistently Painful

The disorder's extent and severity varies between individuals. At first there may be a blackhead or nodule that resembles acne on one of the sites. The lesion may go away on its own after a few hours of a few days. Or, it may rupture and ooze a pus-like discharge. The lesion may heal without treatment but new lesions recur in the adjacent area. If this happens and is left uncontrolled, larger lesions the size of golf balls erupt along with sinus tract formation and the involvement of multiple sites.

It is a very painful condition that has three clinical stages. Stage one is the single or multiple abscesses form, without sinus tracts and scar formation. In stage two the abscesses recur and they have tract formation with single or multiple widely separated lesions. By stage three the tracts have connected and abscesses are multiple and congested, covering an entire area. They do spread.

Treating HS

Hidradenitis suppurativa is difficult to manage from a medical perspective. The best way to treat it is to catch it early and control it while it is in a milder form. If the person is obese, losing weight is important and smokers are told to quit.

The general measures of treatment are to wash the area with antiseptics or acne preparations to reduce skin carriage of bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide and medical grade honey have been found to be helpful. Avoid friction by wearing loose fitting clothing and follow a low glycemic diet in a bid to arrive at a healthy body weight. Don't smoke. If extensive treatment is required a doctor will prescribe antibiotics and possibly corticosteroids. Should the condition be more severe, surgery is recommended.