Alcohol Induced Skin Diseases

Chronic alcohol use or abuse can play havoc with almost all the organs and systems of the body and the skin is not spared. With regard to the medical aspect, chronic alcoholism affects the normal functioning of the skin mainly because it leads to a varíety of vitamins and minerals deficiency in the body.

Alcohol Induced Changes

  • Dryness
  • Flushing/redness
  • Yellowish hue in the skin
  • Spider veins
  • Dull and dehydrated skin
  • Intense pruritus (itching)
  • Easy bruising
  • Mottled pigmentation
  • Pellagra ê Cheilitis (lip cracking)
  • Glossitis (tongue changes)
  • Oral ulcers
  • Nail changes
  • Hair fall, alopecia
  • Skin cancers

Aggravation Of Certain Skin Diseases

  • Psoriasis
  • Urticaria
  • Rosacea
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Nummular eczema
  • Skin infections
  • Poor wound healing

Common skin changes in chronic alcoholism are mainly due to associated chronic liver disease and nutritional disturbances. Acquired zinc deficiency signifies the classical triad of acral dermatitis, alopecia and diarrhoea. Impaired wound healing, mental and emotional disturbances are also seen.

Pellagra is due to deficiency of niacin (nicotinic acid, vitamin B 3). It is most commonly seen in patients with corn-rich diets, alcoholism, and gastrointestinal disease or due to some drugs. Pyridoxine (vitamin B 6) deficiency often coexists. Symptoms show classic triad of diarrhoea, dermatitis, dementia and death. Casal necklace is the distinctive photosensitive eruption seen in pellagra that has the appearance of a ‘necklace’ around the neck.

The dermatitis is acutely red and associated with either pruritus or burning. Within two or three weeks, it becomes dry, scaly and thickened. Dermatitis lesions also occur in the perineal and genital areas, over bony prominences and on the face. The skin abnormalities ¡n pellagra respond rapidly to niacin supplementation and heal ¡n a centrifugal fashion. Dermatitis usually affects areas that are susceptible to mechanical trauma.

Chronic alcohol intake disturbs the immune system and hence lowers immunity. Alcohol also interferes with a lot of medicines and either increases or decreases their benefits and/or side effects. So one should always confirm with the doctor if the prescribed medications can be taken with alcohol or not.

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