November 18, 2023

How to Spot an Alcoholic Face

The physical signs of alcoholism can be quite telling and include:

A red face, typically concentrated around the nose and cheeks - this happens because alcohol widens blood vessels and irritates them, and this results in a flushed appearance. Puffy eyes (because of the water retention resulting from dehydration)
Alcoholics may gain weight and appear more bloated, as the body stores the "empty calories" from alcohol as fat and water. This can also cause the face to look puffy and round, as well as the rest of the body [2].

Broken capillaries - these are visible red or purple spots on the skin and tend to be more common around the nose and cheeks. Alcohol can cause these to enlarge due to a chemical called acetaldehyde, which can be released when the liver is working hard to process alcohol. Bruises and bloodshot eyes - these are caused by the irritation to the blood vessels in the nose and cheeks, and can happen both during and after drinking.

Changing moles - these are often found on the hands and face and can have a jagged or uneven appearance as a result of the damage done by long term alcohol consumption. This can also prevent the DNA from repairing correctly, which can lead to skin cancers such as melanomas.

As with any of these symptoms, it's important to remember that they can be caused by many things other than alcoholism - such as lack of sleep or illness - so they are not a foolproof way to detect the condition. However, they can be a useful indicator if someone is persistently ignoring their responsibilities and prioritising their drinking over everything else.


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