The popularity of vaping has soared in recent years, with the number of e-cigarette users growing from 700,000 in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2021. While vapes are 95% less harmful than their tobacco counterparts, there have been some concerns about their effects on the skin, particularly in relation to acne. So, can vaping cause acne? This article will delve into the relationship between vaping and acne and provide insights on how to combat the skin condition.

What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin condition that affects 34% of UK adults at some point in their lives. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells, forming pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. Despite its prevalence, acne continues to carry a social stigma. To mitigate this stigma and reduce acne’s physical and psychological impacts, NHS England spent £22.7 million between February 2021 and January 2022 on topical acne treatments.

While this investment helped to alleviate acne cases, it did not eradicate the condition altogether. Therefore, acne sufferers have started to investigate potential lifestyle factors that could be contributing to their skin condition.

What Causes Acne?
Although the exact cause of acne remains unclear, a variety of factors likely contribute to the skin condition, including hormonal changes, genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle choices.

·Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, particularly during puberty, can cause excess oil production, which can clog pores, resulting in acne.
·Genetics: Genetic factors can predispose certain individuals to develop acne due to their DNA makeup.
·Environmental Factors: Elements such as pollution, stress, and specific medications can potentially influence acne development.
·Lifestyle Choices: Various lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep patterns and poor hygiene can heighten the risk of acne. For example: consuming a diet rich in processed foods and sugar can increase insulin levels, triggering oil production, which can contribute to acne. In addition, inadequate sleep can raise stress levels and therefore enhance the body’s production of oil. Finally, poor hygiene can lead to the build-up of oil, dead skin cells and bacteria, resulting in clogged pores.

Can Vaping Cause Acne?
It’s important to note that there is no definite answer to the common question: “can vaping cause acne?”. However, several factors associated with vaping could contribute to the development of acne, particularly dehydration.

E-liquids often contain propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG), both of which can negatively impact the skin. PG is recognised as a drying agent, exacerbating dry skin issues for vapers predisposed to this condition. On the other hand, VG acts as a humectant, drawing moisture from the air to keep the skin hydrated. However, in dry environments, VG may extract moisture from the skin, which can contribute to the development of acne.

Vaping nicotine e-cigarettes can also increase the risk of acne. Nicotine constricts blood vessels in the skin, reducing blood flow and oxygen supply to skin cells. Reduced circulation can inhibit collagen production, a crucial component for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. Moreover, nicotine has been known to stimulate sebum production, an oily substance that can clog pores.

Preventing Acne
So, can vaping cause acne? While there is no direct evidence to suggest that vaping causes acne, the factors mentioned above can contribute to the development of the skin condition. Fortunately, you can incorporate a few simple steps into your daily routine to promote healthy skin while minimising the risk of acne.

Skin Care Routine
One of the best ways to combat acne is to maintain a good skincare routine. This includes cleansing, toning and moisturising your skin on a regular basis – ideally twice a day. If you are prone to dry skin, it’s important to choose gentle and hydrating products, avoiding harsh scrubs or exfoliants that could irritate your skin further.

Keep Hydrated
Water is essential for maintaining healthy and hydrated skin as it flushes out toxins from your body, keeping skin healthy.

Manage Stress
High levels of stress can trigger hormonal changes in the body, potentially exacerbating pre-existing skin conditions. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practising relaxation techniques, engaging in physical activity or seeking support from friends, family or a mental health professional.

Consume a Healthy Diet
Consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can promote overall skin health.

Avoid Touching Your Face
Touching your face frequently can transfer dirt, bacteria and oils from your hands onto your skin, clogging pores and causing acne breakouts. Try to refrain from touching your face unnecessarily and avoid picking or popping existing pimples, as this can lead to inflammation and scarring.

Change E-Liquid Ingredients
Finally, you may want to consider switching to e-liquids which contain less PG, VG and nicotine. In doing so, you may be able to reduce the impact vaping has on your skin.