Tuesday, 11 August 2009
Alcoholic nose is a red nose and a bulbous nose that we think is associated with consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. The most famous person with such a nose was W.C. Fields. However, it seems that there are three possible processes at work and an alcoholic nose is, in fact, not simply a nose disfigured and reddened by alcohol.
Alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate (get bigger). This applies to the small capillary blood vessels near the surface of the skin. When dilated the person looks flushed and red. It may be localised. This is an underlying state.
There may be petechiae on the face. These are red spots on the body including the face that are caused by a minor bleed of a capillary vessel. This may, it seems, be caused by reduced liver function due to a liver damaged by alcoholism. The liver produces clotting factors which help control bleeding. If this function is reduced, minor, harmless, bleeding of capillary vessels may take place when otherwise the bleed would be controlled.
Rosacea is a medical condition that has nothing to do with alcohol or alcohol nose. It is a condition that may be exacerbated by alcohol, however. It is a skin condition. Bill Clinton has it. W.C. Fields had it. It is not uncommon. There are four subtypes, one of which is Phymatous rosacea. This is usually associated with rhinophyma, which is an enlarged nose. It includes thickening of the skin and irregular surface nodules (lumps). The exact cause is not known as far as I can see. It is worsened by alcohol intake and so is associated with drinking alcohol and may be considered to be an alcoholic nose when this is not strictly correct.
That's it folks......you know I've got a bit of a red face sometimes...I wonder if I have mild rosacea?! I like a bit of wine too. Must check out my nose tomorrow. Source: By far the best source of information for this post was from Lisa Shea of wineintro.com. Picture: An Old Man and His Grandson by Domenico Ghirlandaio (c.1490) - in public domain.
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