Alcohol abuse and addiction can lead to a whole host of health problems. Along with severe concerns related to liver failure and cancer, alcohol consumption can also lead to skin problems. From premature aging to increased bruising, excess consumption of alcohol can have countless negative influences on skin.
Alcohol and Facial Flushing
Perhaps the most commonly associated trait of a heavy drinker is facial flushing, or a red face. Among some individuals, this is just a rosiness to the cheeks, and it might just look like blushing. Among others, however, it can be a bright red complexion that looks worrying.
Alcohol causes facial flushing by dilating the blood vessels. When this happens, blood can travel closer to the surface of the skin, giving drinkers a red, rosy appearance. Over time, however, this redness can worsen because red spider veins develop on the face, hands and neck. These spider veins aren’t just unsightly, as they can be a sign of liver damage.
Alcohol Can Create Dry, Flaky Skin
Alcohol is a natural diuretic, which means that it encourages liquid to leave the body. Excessive drinking, therefore, can cause extreme dehydration. This is what, in part, leads to the discomfort of hangovers after heavy drinking.
Extreme dehydration, particularly when experienced on a regular basis, can impact the body in many ways. In terms of outward appearance, dehydration leads to dry skin. A heavy drinker might have dry skin that itches, or skin that flakes off. Although moisturizers can help to treat dehydrated, dry skin, abstaining from alcohol and consuming more non-alcoholic liquids will typically be the best form of treatment.
Nutritional Deficiencies Leading to Skin Issues
Alcoholism is often accompanied by a poor diet. Those who drink large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis are far less likely to be consuming healthy diets filled with the necessary vitamins and minerals. Even if individuals are eating a healthy diet, too much alcohol can compromise the absorption of those vitamins.
B Vitamins, for example, are depleted when the body tries to metabolize excess amounts of alcohol. Lowered B Vitamins in the body, however, mean that the circulation system may not be able to deliver the right nutrients to the skin. Similarly, alcohol interrupts the proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, impacting the appearance and suppleness of skin.
Skin Infections Resulting from Excess Alcohol Consumption
Skin infections are more common among those individuals who consume excess amounts of alcohol. This can occur because of a lowered immune system, which can allow bacterial and fungal infections to easily take hold.
A lowered immune system happens for several reasons, one of which is because the body has to work harder to metabolize large amounts of alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption also inhibits the absorption of Vitamin C and zinc, both of which are integral to the immune system and the body’s ability to resist skin infections.
How Alcohol Impacts Bruising
Those who are addicted to alcohol, or even those who are heavy drinkers, can experience an increase in bruising. This happens for several different reasons. The first is simply because accidents are more common, and reaction times slower, when under the influence.
Nutritional deficiencies like a lack of Vitamin C can also cause scurvy, which leads to extensive bruising. This can happen because the blood vessels under the skin are weaker, and blood can actually pool behind the skin and result in visible bruising. Individuals who drink large amounts of alcohol may also have a Vitamin K deficiency. This can, in turn, slow down the clotting of blood, making bruises more likely as well as more pronounced.
Alcohol and the Increased Risk of Skin Cancer
Alcoholism and cancer are closely linked, but excessive alcohol consumption tends to be tied to cancers of the digestive system or the mouth rather than skin. However, evidence clearly reveals that heavy drinking increases the likelihood of skin cancer over a lifetime. There are multiple theories about why this is the case, with the strongest relating to spending more time in the sun. Damaged skin may be more susceptible to harsh UV rays from the sun.
Premature Aging Due to Excess Alcohol Consumption
With so many serious, life-threatening side effects of excessive alcohol consumption, premature aging may not seem like a strong deterrent against drinking. However, many individuals are concerned with their appearance, and learning how alcohol can speed up the outward signs of aging might discourage them from heavy drinking in the future.
Premature aging is a direct result of dehydration, particularly over long periods of time. Why? Because dehydrated skin is far more likely to crease and wrinkle than hydrated skin. On a deeper level, excess alcohol consumption generates free radicals, causing the creation of fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants can help to fight free radicals, but it is nearly impossible to combat free radicals and premature aging when it’s caused by alcoholism or even periodic binge drinking.
Alcohol, Jaundice and Spotting it on the Skin
In modern times, jaundice is most commonly associated with newborns. However, individuals who have a history of alcohol abuse can also become victims of jaundice. The ailment is caused by alcoholic liver damage, which means that the liver is no longer able to properly metabolize alcohol.
Jaundice can lead to complete liver failure, so it’s important to seek medical attention if it’s noticed. Jaundice can often be spotted easily because it causes a yellow tinge to the skin. Heavy drinkers who notice yellowing skin need to take action right away to prevent further liver damage and health concerns.
Alcohol can affect the human body, including the skin, in many ways. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to increased bruising, yellowing skin, facial flushing, premature aging, infections to the skin, dry skin and many more problems that might serve as a deterrent against heavy drinking. In the end, it’s wise to break free from alcohol addiction in order to return your skin to a healthy condition.