Substance abuse and skin conditions – A small guide to drug-related skincare concerns

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We are all familiar with the “substance abuse” syntagma and we are aware of the impact that various substances have on our bodies. However, we may not be fully aware that the first thing to suffer from such addictions is our skin.

Skin-related concerns are the first to appear in addicts, and dermatologist around the world have observed certain patterns. Unlike other systems in addict’s body, the skin is the first one to suffer from the abuse-related damage. In fact, dermatologists are the first to notice the signs of abuse in their patients. In fact, the skin is the first to suffer because substance abuse usually leads to severe nutritional deficiencies.  

Substance abuse and skin conditions

Substance abuse and skin concerns

Skin issues in addicts are mainly caused by a malabsorption of important nutrients. The liver is also working hard to break down the ingested substances, be those alcohol or drugs. This limits its ability to process food. This leads to visible signs on the skin. While treating the signs may work in the beginning, in the long run, therapies and facilities such as ibogaine treatment centers for addicts may be the only reliable solution for solving similar problems. In alcohol abuse, we will notice the following skin concerns: Pruritus, hyperpigmentation, urticaria and jaundice.

  • Jaundice is characterized as a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes. It usually appears because the liver is damaged and cannot properly break down nutrients. It appears due to a yellow pigment named bilirubin that is present in urine and bile. A healthy liver will break down this pigment, but the impaired liver, cannot. This promotes the pigment to show through the skin and leads to a yellow discoloration of the skin and eyes.
  • Hyperpigmentation usually refers to a darkening of certain areas of the skin. Those who abuse alcohol and drugs show similar signs around the mouth, on the legs, around the areolas. Alcohol abuse, for instance, promotes iron absorption and this is usually associated with hyperpigmentation.
  • Pruritus and Cholestasis are two common skin concerns in those with a history of substance abuse. Substance abuse drug rehabs have seen patients with similar skin concerns on a daily basis. Pruritus is an itching sensation that stimulates the need to scratch of those suffering from it.
  • Urticaria, also known as hives is a skin concern that usually appears in case of alcohol abuse. The immunological reaction of the body when extreme quantities of alcohol are ingested lead to a reaction similar to anaphylactic shock. In some cases, swelling of the lips and throat may appear.

These are some of the most common skin concerns that usually appear in case of substance abuse. While the skin is the largest organ that is exposed, it becomes incredibly easy to notice abuse signs, based on the skincare concerns that each addict shows. Treatment centers oftentimes work in a close collaboration with dermatologists because these specialists are the first