Kha-Miim-Ra = cover/conceal/veil, becoming changed/altered from a former state/condition, mixed/mingled/incorporated/blended, intoxication/wine/grapes, make-up, any intoxicating thing that clouds/obscures the intellect, come upon secretly/unexpectedly, crowding of people, odour of perfume, women's head cover, man's turban, something fermented/matured.
khamr n.fem. 2:219, 5:90, 5:91, 12:36, 12:41, 47:15
khumur n. masc. pl. 24:31
...and let them draw/set/cast (walyadribna) with their veils/covers (bikhumurihinna) over (AAala) their breasts/bosom (juyoobihinna)... [24:31]
Lane gives some examples: “the dwelling was hidden by the trees”, “he concealed his testimony”, "She (a woman) applied KhaMaRat as a linament, to beautify her complexion.".
"KhiMaR [A woman's muffler, or veil with which she covers her head and the lower part of her face, leaving exposed only the eyes and part or whole of the nose, such is the KhMR worn in the present day: a kind of veil which in Turkish is called Yashmak] a woman's head-covering."
LL, V2, p: 443, 444, 445, 446
A man sees a girl and says “it is alright if I smile, she is a sister”.
He then sees her again and says “hello”.
After that he invites her to have a coffee. Then they go out for dinner, then the cinema and finally it is back to her place!
We can all make up excuses for each stage of this development, each step is only a small progression which can be easily justified, but the end result cannot!
Likewise with alcohol; it is an intoxicant at certain amounts and when taken for “recreational” purposes is used for relaxation and a mood elevator [alcohol lowers the threshold for normal brain activity so people feel happier]. However, I believe the Quran sums it up the best way:-
2:219They ask you (O Messenger), concerning alcohol, intoxicants, gambling, and easy money. Say, “There is great loss for men and women in these things and a little momentary gain. THEIR DAMAGE FAR OUTWEIGHS THEIR BENEFIT. They drag down individual and collective potentials of people.” And they ask you what they should spend on others. Tell them, "All that is beyond your needs." Thus Allah makes plain to you His Revelations, that you may reflect and understand the Wisdom behind each Command.
What benefits there are to alcohol is far outweighed by its harm. So for recreational uses we can 100% say it is forbidden, whatever the strength used.
In medicines, alcohol provides a necessary medium for some ingredients to be used; there may be no alternative to it. Added to this is the fact that the amount of alcohol used is usually so low that they have no effect on the body [there are exceptions to this so read the label]. That is why I have taken medicines with alcohol in and I advise my customers that the content is not going to produce a “khumr” effect; so you are not going against the Quran.
Alcohol in creams and lotions is there to deliver the active ingredient and since it evaporates off from the skin it is not going to intoxicate unless you “sniff” the bottle!
As regards foodstuffs, the question has already been answered; if there are suitable alternatives then avoid anything that may be controversial. We can go on adding new situations for alcohol which will bog us down in more and more rules and regulations [that is what the Sharia does!], so my advice is to use your common sense and judge the situation accordingly.
To my mind medicines are necessary, creams etc are not even an issue, and everything else is a no,no.