A number of other potential health risks of e-cigarette use have been identified in recent years. One review notes that exposure to propylene glycol can cause eye irritation, while prolonged or repeated inhalation may affect the central nervous system.1
There is some evidence that the use of e-cigarettes by smokers is associated with adverse events of a less serious nature. This evidence comes from records of adverse effects during randomised controlled trials of smokers who were assigned to using e-cigarettes in order to quit. The most common adverse effects included throat irritation, cough, dizziness, headache and nausea.2-5
There is also some evidence that e-cigarette use can lead to contact dermatitis, an allergic skin condition.2 A small number of case reports have indicated that use of e-cigarette devices has led to contact dermatitis on the hands, related to nickel allergy.6-8 Cessation of device use or conversion to non-nickel devices resulted in regression of the symptoms. One case of hand dermatitis occurred after spilling e-liquid onto the hands, which appears to be unrelated to nickel allergy.9
Some case reports have suggested that e-cigarette use can disrupt or delay wound healing.10 However, a major Australian review did not find sufficient evidence on which to assess the effects of e-cigarette use on wound healing due to a lack of prospective studies.2
Relevant news and research
For recent news items and research on this topic, click here. ( Last updated January 2023)
1. Kim KH, Kabir E, and Jahan SA. Review of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: their potential human health impact. Journal of environmental science and health. Part C, Environmental carcinogenesis & ecotoxicology reviews, 2016; 34(4):262–75. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27635466
2. Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, Nguyen M, Martin M, et al. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: systematic review of global evidence. Report for the Australian Department of Health. Canberra: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, 2022. Available from: https://nceph.anu.edu.au/research/projects/health-impacts-electronic-cigarettes#health_outcomes.
3. Eisenberg MJ, Hébert-Losier A, Windle SB, Greenspoon T, Brandys T, et al. Effect of e-cigarettes plus counseling vs counseling alone on smoking cessation: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2020; 324(18):1844-54. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33170240/
4. Hajek P, Phillips-Waller A, Przulj D, Pesola F, Myers Smith K, et al. A randomized trial of e-cigarettes versus nicotine-replacement therapy. New England Journal of Medicine, 2019; 380(7):629-37. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30699054
5. Myers Smith K, Phillips-Waller A, Pesola F, McRobbie H, Przulj D, et al. E-cigarettes versus nicotine replacement treatment as harm reduction interventions for smokers who find quitting difficult: Randomised controlled trial. Addiction, 2021. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/34187081
6. Maridet C, Atge B, Amici JM, Taieb A, and Milpied B. The electronic cigarette: the new source of nickel contact allergy of the 21st century? Contact Dermatitis, 2015. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25801540
7. Ormerod E and Stone N. Contact allergy and electronic cigarettes (and eyelash curlers). Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 2017. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28543750
8. Shim TN and Kosztyuova T. Allergic contact dermatitis to electronic cigarette. Dermatitis, 2018; 29(2):94-5. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29494384
9. Azevedo A, Lobo I, and Selores M. Allergic contact dermatitis and electronic cigarettes: Is nickel to blame? Contact Dermatitis, 2019. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30834540
10. Byrne S, Brindal E, Williams G, Anastasiou K, Tonkin A, et al. E-cigarettes, smoking and health. A Literature Review Update. CSIRO, Australia, 2018. Available from: https://researchnow.flinders.edu.au/en/publications/e-cigarettes-smoking-and-health-a-literature-review-update.