Substance Use

Why Does Your Face Turn Red When You Drink Alcohol?

young man with red face from drinking alcohol

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Facial Flushing and Redness From Alcohol Consumption

Have you ever noticed that your face turns red when you drink alcohol? Facial flushing is a common phenomenon, but why does it happen? It all has to do with the way our bodies process alcohol. Explore how to better understand how alcohol affects your skin and body and what you can do about it.

At Zinnia Health, we understand that alcohol addiction can manifest in many ways. Our 24/7 helpline at (855) 430-9439 is always open to those seeking relief from alcohol dependence, so don’t hesitate to call us today.

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If your face turns red after even the smallest sip of alcohol, it can be uncomfortable. The root cause is blood vessel dilation in your skin and alcohol’s impact on controlling blood flow. 

Your vessels widen when you drink alcohol, making it easier for your blood to flow from arteries to veins and increasing the heat escaping your internal organs. This increased heat relaxes facial muscles and opens more capillaries on the skin’s surface, giving those red cheeks.

What Does It Mean When Your Face Turns Red When You Drink Alcohol?

Drinking alcohol can lead to a flushed complexion. In fact, even non-alcoholic products like caffeine or spicy foods can give you a red face. 

Red flushing usually happens when you consume alcohol quickly, so having drinks at a slower pace can help reduce noticeable redness. It may also help prevent uncomfortable symptoms like headaches and stomach upset.

Additionally, mixing alcoholic drinks with soda or choosing drinks that contain less ethanol, such as wine over spirits, can minimize the flushed complexion.

If your face turns red constantly when you drink alcohol, and in any amount, it could indicate a genetic condition known as Alcohol Flush Reaction or Asian Glow. This unpleasant and often embarrassing disorder affects certain people after consuming alcoholic beverages.

People with East Asian ancestry have an increased risk of alcohol intolerance and flushing due to a deficiency in the enzyme ALDH2.

This enzyme deficiency interferes with how the body processes alcoholic beverage compounds, often causing facial redness, nausea, and headaches from small amounts of alcohol.

Note that this condition is not limited to those with East Asian ancestry. People from other races or with different ethnicities can develop Alcohol Flush Reaction as well. If you experience a red face, please see your doctor for further investigation and treatment.

Does Red Face From Drinking Go Away?

You may wonder if your red face will ever go away. Unfortunately, there is no simple yes or no answer. Instead, it depends on various factors, such as the amount you drink, the frequency, and the surrounding temperature or humidity levels.

If you find yourself getting flushed after having one alcoholic beverage, it’s likely an underlying health condition, such as hypersensitivity to alcohol or rosacea, causing the symptoms.

To avoid permanent damage to your skin, you should try to consume alcohol in moderation. With proper care, though, it is possible to see improvement; regular use of calming essential oils and other treatments can help you manage this reaction.

If you are concerned that you or someone close to you is in the grip of alcohol addiction, Zinnia Health is here to help. Our team of addiction counselors and medical professionals offers various inpatient and outpatient services designed to decrease cravings, strengthen resolve, and break free from the debilitating cycle of abuse. Call (855) 430-9439 to find a treatment center near you.

What Are the Symptoms of a Red Face From Drinking Alcohol?

A red face from drinking alcohol is a telltale sign of Alcohol Flush Reaction. It typically manifests as redness in the cheeks, neck, and forehead and can affect other areas, including the chest and upper back.

Alongside the redness, you may have symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headache, a rapid heartbeat, and itching or burning sensations on the skin.

Fortunately for most people, these symptoms are usually temporary and subside after stopping or slowing down alcohol consumption. However, if you experience severe reactions after consuming alcohol, seek immediate medical attention. It could be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition.

Depending on your genetics, you might be unable to avoid these symptoms unless you abstain from drinking. However, you can reduce the effects by drinking less or taking preventative measures like antihistamines.

How Do I Keep My Face From Turning Red When I Drink?

Are you among the many people embarrassed when their face turns red after drinking? You can take several steps to help prevent and lessen this skin condition, such as:

  • Taking time to sip your drink rather than chug it
  • Staying hydrated by drinking a glass of water with each alcoholic beverage
  • Avoiding warm drinks like coffee or hot toddies
  • Applying topical creams that constrict the skin’s blood vessels, such as those containing green tea extract or niacinamide
  • Getting plenty of sleep the night before you plan to drink
  • Opting for lighter-colored drinks like beer or white wine

Following these tips could make all the difference in keeping your face looking cool and composed during social events.

Whatever approach you decide on, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before taking further action if symptoms persist. You want to ensure that any underlying issue gets proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Are Other Side Effects of Alcohol?

Toxic levels of alcohol can cause serious side effects, such as decreased breathing, irregular heartbeat, confusion, high blood pressure, and unconsciousness. Heavy drinking could also lead to long-term health issues, such as permanent damage to the liver, heart, brain, and other organs. 

Cancer risks are another effect of alcohol consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol use increases your risk of specific types of cancer, such as breast cancer and esophageal cancer.

Colon, throat, and liver cancers are also more common with alcohol consumption. The primary reason alcohol raises cancer risk is that the body breaks it down into a dangerous chemical called acetaldehyde.

Unless aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), a liver enzyme, can break down the acetaldehyde, the toxic compound builds up in cells. It can cause permanent damage and disrupt the DNA repair process, leading to uncontrolled growth and potentially harmful tumors.

Unfortunately, we still don’t fully understand why specific cells are more susceptible to this damage, leading to treatment uncertainty for those affected by alcohol-related cancers.

At Zinnia Health, we understand that addiction is a complex issue with unique and personal circumstances. As a result, we’ve developed a strong network of resources and therapies at our inpatient facilities to help people break free from the health issues associated with alcohol addiction.

No matter your situation, there are hotlines available for alcohol abuse. Our helpline is also open 24/7 at (855) 430-9439. Contact us today and take the first step toward overcoming alcohol use disorder.

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