Q: I am a 37-year-old Lebanese woman and I love to smoke shisha. I’ve been told me that it can prematurely age my skin. Is it true?

The habit of shisha smoking has alarmingly increased in the recent past. Unfortunately, this is also connected to the myth that smoking shisha is less hazardous to health than cigarette smoking – which is absolutely wrong. Shisha smoking is equally dangerous, if not more, to the smokers’ general health.

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However, its toxic impact on the human health is not only confined to pre-mature skin ageing, but can be one of the major factors in causing heart diseases, lung cancer, many lung-air-capacity reducing diseases – medically known as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, impotence in men and infertility in women. For these reasons shisha smoking has raised significant concern among the health care authorities as well as the medical practitioners.

Nicotine, an addictive drug, and tar are present in all tobacco products including shisha tobacco. Recent World Health Organization (WHO) observations state that cigarette-smokers typically take 8-12 puffs, inhaling 0.5-0.6 liters of smoke over about 5-7 minutes, indicating that each cigarette puff contains about 40-75ml of smoke. In contrast, Shisha smoking sessions typically lasts for 30-90 minutes during which the smokers may take 50-200 puffs with range of about 0.2-1.0 liter of smoke.

Now coming to your specific concern of premature ageing of skin, there is a global consensus among the community of dermatologists that use of tobacco does accelerate skin ageing. The spectrum of changes seen in a premature ageing skin commonly includes fine and coarse wrinkle formation, irregular and mottled discrete and diffuse pigmentary alterations, tactile and visual roughness and dryness, leathery texture, laxity and some degree of sallowness and significant thinning of skin. Nicotine exerts a specific role in this phenomenon.

Without going into the details of explaining a complex mechanism of nicotine-induced toxicity on human skin, I would like to reiterate the fact that shisha smoking has proven to be closely associated with initiation of signs of pre-mature skin ageing. To avoid this, I would sincerely suggest you to quit this habit as soon as possible. This will help to reverse the existing aging signs of your skin. There are also therapies to treat your complaints. Consult a dermatologist for your specific skin type.

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir is a specialist dermatologist and medical director at Dermacare Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.