Many people think vaping is safer than smoking, but vaping has its own share of negative health impacts.
In addition to potential severe lung diseases, there are concerns that vaping causes acne and skin-related problems.
In this article, I’ll talk more about vaping, and whether or not it causes acne.
I’ll also discuss the effects of vaping, what e-liquids are made of, and which e-liquid ingredients actually affect your skin.
I’ll also talk about whether you should quit vaping, and when to talk to your doctor.
Does Vaping Cause Acne?
Vapes or electronic cigarettes work by heating a liquid mixture of nicotine or THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol, and other flavorings.
This liquid turns into a vapor, which is inhaled through a mouthpiece and expelled through the nose or mouth.
Propylene glycol is a humectant chemical in vape e-liquids. Humectants are compounds that draw up liquid.
Propylene glycol from e-cigarettes can dry your mouth and throat.
It’s possible that it could also dry your skin and cause acne breakouts.
When our skin gets too dry, our bodies produce excess sebum.
Sebum is an oily, waxy substance that can clog pores and hold dirt and dead skin, which can lead to acne.
Another possible explanation for acne among people who vape is that vapers tend to touch their faces often, wiping off vapor that settles on their skin.
As a result, they easily transfer dirt from their hands to their faces, which can lead to acne.
Does vaping age the skin?
Almost all vape pens contain nicotine, and nicotine is associated with early aging.
Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict or tighten, slowing blood circulation, lessening the skin’s access to oxygen supply and other vital nutrients.
As a result, skin grows pale and starts to show signs of aging.
Nicotine also causes slower healing, so minor injuries take longer to heal.
Does vaping dehydrate you?
Vaping e-liquid contains propylene glycol, which is dehydrating.
Propylene glycol absorbs water molecules, preventing the body from absorbing and using them.
Vaping can draw liquid from your nose, throat, and mouth.
Many e-cigarette users complain about dry mouth and feeling thirsty.
Effects of Vaping
E-cigarettes are marketed as a way to quit smoking, but they come with several health risks.
And you’re not the only one at risk: People around you may suffer secondhand injuries from the aerosols in vape pens.
Some effects of vaping include:
- Weakened immune system: Vaping weakens your immune system and makes your lungs more susceptible to infection. People who vape are more prone to infections like COVID-19, and less able to fight them off.
- Exposure to metals: E-cigarette aerosols may contain metals like lead, aluminum, copper, manganese, arsenic, iron, and zinc. Breathing these metals is linked to lung damage and several cancers. Multiple studies reported dangerous levels of metals in e-cigarette aerosols, and others reported seeing metals in the blood, urine, and saliva of vapers.
- Lung disease: Scientists have associated vaping with lung injury. Vitamin E acetate is a part of vaping e-liquid, and can lead to permanent lung scarring. Metals in the aerosol can also build up in your lungs, causing a persistent cough.
- Cancer: E-cigarettes contain propylene glycol and glycerin. When the vape pen is heated, propylene glycol and glycerin produce substances like formaldehyde, acrolein, and acetaldehyde, which can cause cancer.
- Brain damage: It doesn’t matter if you smoke or inhale it as a vapor—nicotine is still harmful to your brain. It’s especially dangerous to teens and young adults, whose brains are still developing. Vaping can also increase your chances of developing a neurodegenerative disease later in life.
- Heart issues: 99% of e-cigarettes sold in the US contain nicotine. Even some e-cigarettes marketed as being nicotine-free have been found to contain nicotine. Nicotine increases your blood pressure and adrenaline levels, putting you at greater risk of a heart attack and other issues like blood circulation problems and coronary artery disease.
What Are E-Liquids Made Of?
E-liquids are the liquids in e-cigarettes that are converted to aerosols.
They typically contain:
- Food grade flavoring
- Propylene glycol
- Vegetable glycerin
E-liquids may also contain heavy metals and flavoring like diacetyl, which has been linked to lung disease.
Dangerous e-liquid substances for your skin
Some substances in e-liquids can cause skin problems.
For example, propylene glycol causes dry skin.
Some people are also allergic to propylene glycol, and can develop a rash from exposure.
Others suffer from nickel allergy, which causes skin rashes and lip swelling.
Nicotine is also problematic. It breaks down elastin and collagen, which are important for healthy skin.
Lower levels of these two components lead to skin wrinkles and premature aging.
Nicotine is also implicated in skin cancer and reduced healing ability for skin wounds.
Other Effects of Vaping on Your Body
Here are some vaping effects you might notice early on:
You may also notice chest pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and fever from e-cigarettes.
Should You Quit Vaping?
Vaping may appear safer than smoking cigarettes, but it has significant health risks.
Nicotine is highly addictive and can cause health issues and harm brain development in young people.
People believe that vaping can help them quit smoking, but young people who use vape pens may be more likely to smoke in the future.
Studies have found that people are more dependent on nicotine when they vape than when they smoke.
You can also become addicted to vaping, so even if it helps you stop smoking, you still have to deal with the effects of nicotine from vaping.
Considering all the health effects, it is best to quit vaping. If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.
When to See a Doctor
See your doctor if you notice:
You should also see your doctor if you’ve been trying to quit vaping and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from nicotine.
These include increased appetite, cough, headache, cravings, anxiety, depression, irritability, and trouble concentrating.
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app?
Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed, text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
Frequently Asked Questions
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Before Recent Outbreak, Vaping Was on the Rise in U.S., Especially Among Young People. (2019).
Electronic Cigarettes. (2021).
E-Cigarettes are More Addictive than Traditional Cigarettes–A study in Highly Educated Young People. (2019).
E-Cigarettes, or Vaping , Products Visual Dictionary. (2019).
Health Effects Associated With Electronic Cigarette Use: Automated Mining of Online Forums. (2020).
Metal/Metalloid Levels in Electronic Cigarette Liquids, Aerosols, and Human Biosamples: A Systematic Review. (2020).
Neurotoxic Effects and Biomarkers of Lead Exposure: A Review. (2010).
Nicotine Effect on Skin: Are They Positive or Negative. (2004).
Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products. (2021).
Quick Facts on the Risks of E-Cigarettes for Kids, Teens and Young Adults. (2021).
Study Finds Electronic Cigarettes Damage Brain Stem Cells. (2019).
The Dangers of Vaping. (2020).
Toxicology of E-Cigarette Constituents. (2018).
Vaping: An Emerging Health Hazard. (2020).
Vaping, SARS-CoV-2, and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome: A Perfect Storm. (2021).