E-cigarettes are as harmful to the skin as tobacco, says study

E-cigarette users could be causing almost as much damage to their skin as smokers of traditional tobacco cigarettes, according to a study published in Annals of Plastic Surgery.

Chemists at the University of Connecticut found that e-cigarettes filled with a nicotine-based liquid could be as toxic as unfiltered cigarettes when it comes to causing DNA damage to the skin and affecting tissue oxygen levels.

Using a rat skin flap model, the researchers examined the toxic microcirculatory effects (the circulation of the blood in the smallest blood vessels within organ tissues) e-cigarettes may have in comparison with tobacco cigarettes.

58 rats were randomly exposed to room air, tobacco cigarette smoke, medium-nicotine content (1.2%) e-cigarette vapour, or a high-nicotine content (2.4%) e-cigarette vapour.

After five weeks plasma was collected from their skin flaps and tested for nicotine and cotinine (a chemical compound found in tobacco) levels.

The skin was also tested for signs of disease manifestation.

Results demonstrated significantly increased necrosis in the two e-cigarette groups and the tobacco group, with all three of these groups demonstrating a similar level of damage to one another.

Each had significantly more necrosis than the control group that was exposed to room air.

The study concluded that both the high-nicotine and medium-nicotine content in the e-cigarette exposure groups caused similar amounts of necrosis and tissue oxygen deficiency when compared with the tobacco cigarette group.