consumption is known to cause multiple health problems which affect organs such as liver,
heart, kidney, blood and bone marrow. It is also responsible for nutritional
deficiencies and an overall decrease in immunity. Alcohol abuse has a deleterious affect on the skin and is
responsible for causing various skin conditions like rosacea,
porphyria cutanea tarda, post-adolescent acne, discoid eczema and psoriasis.
A recent article reviewed the
direct and indirect changes of alcohol on the skin. Alcoholic liver abnormality
disturbs the estrogen and bile salt metabolism with peculiar signs of
inflammation and redness on the skin. In male alcoholics, there is an increase
in the female hormone called estrogen and a decrease in the male hormone
testosterone. This causes a feminizing effect such as development of breasts,
feminine pattern of body and pubic hair and redistribution of body fat. Liver cirrhosis and portal hypertension account for
the distinctive skin condition around the belly button called 'caput medusae'
Alcoholics tend to have an
increase in systemic and superficial skin problems with bacterial and fungal
infections. This is because of alcohol-induced
nutritional deficiency and impaired absorption of zinc and vitamins from the
intestines, which results in decreased immunity.
The deficiencies of zinc, vitamin C and trace elements cause a weakening of
mucosal barriers, poor wound healing and a tendency for infections
of the skin include fissuring in the corners of the lips, pinpoint bleeds due
to vitamin B deficiency (called pellagra), development of red and purple
hemorrhagic spots on the skin and a tendency for bruising easily.
A metabolic disorder known as "Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT)" occurs due
to the scarcity of one of the hepatic enzymes concerned in porphyrin metabolism
especially uroporpyrinogen decarboxylase. The build up of photoreactive
porphyrin precursors causes extreme photosensitivity to the skin.
by acting on various enzymes, results in a flare up of porphyria cutanea tarda
causing skin blisters and eruptions in sun-exposed areas which heal with
scarring and milia (tiny white bumps in the skin).
Alcohol is also responsible for
disturbing the center of the brain that control tone of blood vessels. Alcohol
causes dilatation of skin vessels which increases the blood supply to the skin
and gives the skin its distinctive redness and
flushing. A genetic deficiency of an alcohol metabolic enzyme is also
responsible for facial redness and erythema.
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory
immune-mediated disease with multiple causative factors which affects skin too
causing increased thickness of the skin due to its cells dividing more then
they should normally. Evidently, alcohol abuse increases the possibility of
aggravating or producing psoriasis.
Dr. Natalia Kazakevich from the Department of Dermatology, Weill Cornell Medical College at Texas has authored a study involving 82,869 women for 14 years indicates that the intake of more then 2.3
alcoholic drinks per week significantly increases the possibility of new
same study also found that the consumption of strong beer in females can
singularly cause psoriasis. Similarly, an excessive intake of alcohol more than
100g daily increases the possibility of exacerbating and developing psoriasis
under medication for psoriasis taking alcohol have been reported to have a poor
response to therapy.
is a peripheral involvement of the back of the hands and fingers in the
psoriasis associated with profuse drinkers similar to that seen in immunocompromised individuals.
There are many theories as to how
alcohol provokes and aggravates psoriasis such as immune suppression,
stimulating production of inflammatory cytokines and cell cycle activators
which speed up the growth and multiplication of skin cells, and an increased
propensity for superficial infections and damage.
To sum up, there is evidently an definite
link between the contribution of alcohol and the development of skin problems
including psoriasis. In case of psoariasis alcohol not only aggravates the
disease but also causes resistance to the treatment. Medical treatment alone
for a skin disorder is insufficient. Education and counseling about the effects
of alcohol intake needs stressing and the patient requires constant
reinforcement to ensure that he keeps away from his regular daily tipple.
: Alcohol and Skin
Disorders: With a Focus on Psoriasis; Natalia et al; Skin Therapy Letter. 2011;16(4).