The Impact of Smoking on the Hands

The nicotine found in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products can have many adverse effects on the body. In addition to harming the lungs, smoking can damage the hands and other upper extremities.

Hand Problems Caused by Smoking

People who smoke regularly may experience reduced blood circulation in the hands that could affect the fingertips. Nerve damage in the hands can also occur from smoking. Some smokers notice that the skin on their hands has formed wrinkles or shown other premature signs of aging. The nicotine in tobacco products may cause the nails to turn yellow or develop fungal infections. Tobacco use has even been linked to a condition known as Dupuytren’s contracture which causes tissue knots under the skin of the hands to form and bend the fingers permanently. Some studies have also shown evidence that smoking increases the risk of developing conditions like reflex sympathetic dystrophy and hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Smoking Worsens Existing Hand Conditions

Tobacco use can also exacerbate existing conditions of the hands and lead to further complications. Breaks and fractures in arm, wrist and hand bones often heal slower and could be prevented from healing completely. Skin wounds on these upper extremities may also have trouble healing and are more susceptible to infection in smokers. Anyone who plans to undergo surgery is advised to quit smoking in order to speed up recovery time and reduce the chances of complications while healing.

Talking to a board-certified hand and plastic surgeon at LA Hand Surgeon or another trusted professional is advised for anyone who is having trouble quitting smoking and is about to undergo surgery.