Alcohol and Lesions on the Liver and Tongue

Consumption of alcohol can cause or contribute to several conditions responsible for lesions. A lesion is an abnormality, or damage, on tissue or organs. If you have lesions on your tongue, drinking alcohol may make them go away. Lesions on your liver indicate a more serious condition. If you have lesions on both places, you likely have more than one condition. Speak to your doctor if you believe you have lesions.

Alcohol could damage your tongue or liver. (Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)


Oral erythroplakia is a rare type of lesion found in the oral mucosa, which is a protective membrane in the mouth that is found on the tongue, cheeks and oral cavity. OE lesions are generally harmless, but could become cancerous. True OE lesions are red and have a velvety texture; however, OE lesions sometimes present with white lesions that may be caused by a different condition called leukoplakia. Tobacco and long-term alcohol consumption are believed to be contributing factors; the exact cause of this condition is unknown. Drinking alcohol may increase your risk of developing cancer from this condition.


Leukoplakia is a condition characterized by thickened, white patches on the tongue, cheeks, gums and the bottom of your mouth. You cannot easily scrape off these lesions. Typically the lesions are benign, but they can become cancerous. The cause of this condition is not known, but tobacco is considered to play the largest role in its development. However, alcohol is also thought to play a role. Avoiding alcohol and tobacco make the lesions go away, but the Mayo Clinic recommends that you see your dentist if you notice mouth lesions. Your dentist may need to remove leukoplakia lesions.

Fatty Liver

Fatty liver is the first stage of alcoholic liver disease. Fatty liver is characterized by a liver lesion and fat deposits in the zones 2 and 3 of the liver, which are near the middle. Ninety percent of people with fatty liver have an enlarged liver that is palpable to the touch. Fatty liver can develop within hours of drinking a significant amount of alcohol. A fatty liver lesion is reversible if you avoid all alcohol. However, conditions like nonalcoholic liver disease and drug toxicity can cause the same abnormal fat deposits. Your doctor can distinguish the difference.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis

Lesions on the liver may occur during fatty liver, but also in the third stage of alcoholic liver disease: alcoholic cirrhosis. Even though it is called the third stage, the stages do not always happen a linear fashion. The stages may overlap or some people with alcoholic liver disease never develop alcoholic cirrhosis, even with continued alcohol consumption. Lesions of the liver are common with alcoholic cirrhosis; they may lead to skin lesions and other changes in the skin. Your skin is your largest organ, but your liver is your second largest. Unlike fatty liver, alcoholic cirrhosis is not reversible.

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