Does chewing tobacco affect psoriasis?
Tobacco is usually associated with cigarette smoking, however, tobacco is also contained in products such as cigars, hookah, pipes, snuff and chewing tobacco. The latter two are forms of smokeless tobacco and are placed into the mouth, typically between the cheeks and gums, and chewed. Chewing tobacco consists of loose leaf tobacco and is sweetened or flavored. Like any tobacco-containing product, the active ingredient is nicotine, which is also responsible for the addictive quality of tobacco. Any liquid that is extracted from the tobacco is usually spit out, and then chewing may be continued for hours at a time. Although smokeless tobacco does not contain as much carcinogenic material and produce second-hand smoke, as do cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, it is still considered dangerous to health. Chewing tobacco increases the risk of developing oral cancer, which not only affects the mouth but also the teeth, gums, jaw bone, and throat. Smokeless tobacco also increases the likelihood of spreading diseases like tuberculosis and developing throat infections.
For a person with psoriasis, nicotine that is contained in both forms of tobacco can trigger or worsen flare ups of psoriasis. Exposure to second hand smoke of cigarettes can also trigger a flare up or worsen symptoms. Due to the increased susceptibility of throat infections, tobacco products can put a person at risk of developing a strep throat, which is one of the causes of guttate psoriasis. People with psoriasis should stop using tobacco products as soon as possible, in order to minimize unwanted flare ups. They should seek help from their doctor to create a personalized smoking cessation program, to help alleviate addiction and withdrawal symptoms from nicotine.