Addiction is a severe illness that causes detrimental long-term effects on an individual’s mind and body. While there can be countless health effects of substance abuse, skin signs of illegal drug usage are frequently overlooked. If you’re looking for more tips, West Dermatology Hillcrest has it for you. Dermatological wellbeing is a significant aspect of general well-being, but in opioid users it sometimes takes a backseat, perhaps because of the lack of self-reporting out of fear of others’ disapproval and prejudice.
Drug users do not pay much attention to their personal appearance and are often seen in shabby clothing, with rashes overflowing with wrinkled skin and pimples and spots distorting the face. Due to the unhygienic conditions of the skin, which becomes the breeding ground for bacteria and viruses causing skin problems, most cutaneous problems develop.
Not many persons, however, are aware that these dermatological conditions may be a direct consequence of chronic misuse of medications. For example, injection marks, often referred to as “track marks” are a common occurrence in intravenous drug addiction users. “these linear marks represent post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation at the injection site, resulting from damage and consequent sclerosis of the underlying veins.” according to a 2016 study conducted by Indiana University School of Medicine.
Some of the illegal drugs that cause distinct skin problems are listed below:
It is the most widely abused substance, especially among adolescents and students. While the drug’s psychoactive effects may tend to be more subtle than other toxic substances, it is understood that marijuana causes vessel constriction. In general, it is a disease that happens in the fingers and may cause spasms. The consumer can encounter a cold feeling in his hands in extreme cases, which may further lead to ulcers or ischemia (caused due to lack of blood).
There are various ways to use heroin, with an intravenous injection being one of the most common methods. Chronic drug users also use a hot needle to inject drugs into the blood, contributing to the accumulation of carbon and soot in the dermis that causes severe skin problems. Skin discoloration is another common skin problem amongst IV drug users. In many body sections, including genital areas, many heroin users often suffer skin eruptions such as morbilliform (a rash that looks like measles) and chronic itching. In heroin users, disorders such as acanthosis nigricans (dark, thick patches in body creases) and deadly bacterial infections such as necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating illness) are also widespread.
After marijuana and heroin, cocaine is one of the most widely used illegal substances by adolescents and young adults. In cocaine addicts, skin problems associated with injection marks are common since IV injection is a common procedure used for cocaine ingestion. Cocaine also induces skin discoloration, also known as ecchymosis, from internal bleeding. Snorting cocaine also results in nasal septum/oral palate necrosis and perforation. Also common are symptoms such as chronic skin tightening, hemorrhagic skin lesions (leakage of red blood cells in the skin), blood vessel inflammation, and itchy hive breakouts in many areas of the body.