Chronic skin rashes such as nummular dermatitis, also called discoid or nummular eczema, cause discomfort and embarrassment 2. This skin condition, which produces coin-shaped lesions on the skin, affects around two in 1,000 people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Drinking alcohol in any form, including beer, can exacerbate nummular dermatitis.
Men develop nummular dermatitis more frequently than women, with the first outbreak often occurring between ages 55 and 65. Women more often develop the disorder between 15 and 25. Dry skin, a history of eczema or poor circulation to the legs can indicate a higher risk. An allergy to nickel, rubber or formaldehyde, and taking certain medications -- such as interferon, isoretinoin or neomycin -- have also been shown to increase susceptibility. In rare cases, mercury fillings appear to cause nummular dermatitis. A lesion may begin at the site of a minor skin injury, such as an insect bite.
Nummular dermatitis starts as small reddened areas or blisters that grow together to form a coin-shaped or oval patch measuring between 1 and 4 inches in diameter. The lesions often appear on the legs, but can also appear on the back, arms, hands or other parts of the torso and may itch and burn. Over time, the center area may clear, giving the impression of a ringworm-like skin rash. The skin becomes flaky or scaly and may turn pink or brown. A discolored area often remains even after the lesions disappear, which can take up to a year or more.
Alcohol and Nummular Dermatitis
Heavy alcohol use can exacerbate or cause many types of skin lesions. Nummular dermatitis appears more frequently in people who abuse alcohol or drink heavily, especially in those who have abnormal liver function tests, which occur when alcohol damages the liver cells. People with this condition should consult their doctors about the risks of drinking alcohol.
No medications are guaranteed to clear up this skin condition, which is why avoiding substances that can make it worse, such as alcohol, is so important. Steroid creams, moisturizing the skin, avoiding dry heat, humidifying the air -- especially in the winter months, when outbreaks often occur -- can help control or heal the lesions. Ultraviolet treatments several times a week over several months may help in some cases. Antibiotics can help if a secondary bacterial infection develops at the site.
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