Quitting Smoking: A Treatment For Hand Eczema?

Also called atopic dermatitis, eczema is a skin condition characterized by itchy patches of skin that can be reddish to grayish in color. The most common treatments for eczema include anti-itch medications and creams, warm baths, cool compresses and moisturizers for the skin. Quitting smoking might be another effective eczema treatment, especially for flare-ups on the hands.

The Link Between Eczema and Smoking

Smokers are more likely to develop symptoms of eczema, most notably on the hands. A 2014 study published in "BioPortfolio" reveals that about 10 percent of smokers experience eczema on their hands. Smoking takes a toll on the health of your skin, which raises the odds of developing patches of eczema on the hands and elsewhere on the body. Cigarettes contain several harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde, which has been linked to poor skin health.

Second and Third Hand Smoke

Though the risk is smaller, nonsmokers who are exposed to second hand tobacco smoke might also have a higher chance of developing the skin condition. Babies, for example, who live with smokers have a higher chance of developing eczema than babies who don't come into contact with cigarette smoke. Exposure to tobacco smoke during childhood might also raise the risk of hand eczema as an adult. Third hand smoke, which is smoke that lingers on clothing or in buildings even after the cigarette is put out, can also cause an elevated risk for adult-onset eczema when a person is exposed to it regularly.

Smoking, Vitamin C and Skin Health

Healthy skin is less likely to fall victim to an eczema flare-up. Vitamin C, found in fruits and vegetables like oranges, grapefruits and bell peppers, is an essential vitamin for skin health. The nutrient is necessary for your body to continuously regenerate skin cells. Smokers need more vitamin C than nonsmokers for their bodies to protect the skin. When a smoker doesn't get enough of the vitamin, the health of their skin may be compromised, and that makes hand eczema more of a risk.

Kicking Butts

Quitting smoking is easier said than done. If hand eczema is a problem for you, speak with your doctor about appropriate treatments, but know that quitting smoking can help. Your doctor can recommend the most effective smoking cessation methods such as nicotine patches or certain medications. As an added bonus, ditching the cigarettes can improve the health of your entire body, not just the health of your skin.