Cutaneous disease and alcohol misuse

Br Med Bull. 1994 Jan;50(1):85-98. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.bmb.a072887.


Certain skin disorders have now been demonstrated to be affected by alcohol misuse, in particular psoriasis and discoid eczema. The pattern of involvement in psoriasis differs from psoriasis vulgaris in character and distribution, and tends to be more difficult to treat. Discoid eczema appears to be specifically related to alcohol excess and is associated with deranged liver function tests. Rosacea, post-adolescent acne, superficial infections and porphyria cutanea tarda may also be markers of alcohol misuse. These disorders occur early and are quite distinct from the traditional cutaneous stigmata of established liver disease. The association between alcohol and skin disease is under-reported, as alcohol misuse may go undetected in a general clinic unless specifically sought. Alcohol has a profound influence on immune function and induces changes in the cutaneous vasculature. The relevance of these effects to the pathophysiology of alcohol-related skin disease is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Eczema / etiology
  • Flushing / etiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / complications
  • Porphyria Cutanea Tarda / etiology
  • Psoriasis / etiology
  • Rosacea / etiology
  • Skin Diseases / etiology*