Is Drinking Alcohol Bad For Your Skin?
Alcohol affects many areas of the body, from the brain to the liver and even the skin. In addition to dehydration that causes dry and flaky skin, drinking alcohol can worsen skin conditions, such as rosacea, and cause flare-ups. In this post, we’ll take a look at how alcohol use impacts the skin.
Are you or a loved one struggling to stop drinking? Zinnia Health can help. Call our alcohol help hotline at (855) 430-9439 to learn more about our broad range of treatment options for alcohol use disorder.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Skin
Let’s take a deeper look at how the side effects of alcohol are detrimental to skin health.
1. Dark Circles
Although alcohol may lull you to sleep at first, it reduces the amount of time you spend in REM sleep and causes sleep disruptions. Meaning it’s very difficult to get a good night’s rest after heavy drinking. Dark circles underneath the eyes are often the first place where signs of fatigue manifest.
2. Dehydrated Skin
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to remove fluids from the blood through the kidneys, bladder, and ureters much faster than non-diuretics do. If you fail to drink enough water while consuming alcohol, you can become dehydrated quickly. When your body is dehydrated, it will lead to dull and dry skin.
The effects of alcohol on the skin stretch further than dehydrated skin, with people reporting the substance worsens their symptoms of atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
Many people with eczema also suffer from food allergies that cause strong immune system reactions to certain foods and drinks, including alcohol.
4. Puffy Eyes
If you’ve ever woken up with puffy eyes after a night of drinking, you’re not alone. You have alcohol’s dehydrating effects to thank for this symptom.
Some people experience facial flushing when they drink, which is a sign of rosacea. This common skin condition causes the following areas of the face to turn red:
Drinking alcohol is a trigger for rosacea flare-ups, and some studies have found that drinking alcohol can increase the chances of getting rosacea for people who don’t have it.
6. Rosy Cheeks
It is possible for alcohol to cause some facial flushing that is not rosacea, particularly rosy cheeks. This happens due to an enzyme issue that turns the cheeks a reddish tint after alcohol consumption. This genetic issue is more likely to affect people with East Asian backgrounds.
Alcoholic drinks can trigger psoriasis, a condition in which skin cells build up and create dry, itchy patches. Heavy alcohol intake can also worsen existing psoriasis outbreaks.
Not only is alcohol a trigger for psoriasis flare-ups, but research also indicates that people with the skin condition drink more alcohol than those without it. One reason is that people use alcohol to cope with the psychological impact of a long-term skin disorder — patients with psoriasis are often ashamed of their visible physical symptoms. As a result, they may experience low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
Alcohol intake can cause an allergic reaction that shows up as itchy skin bumps known as hives. These can affect one part of the body or appear all over. Often, hives after drinking are a sign of alcohol intolerance.
Heavy drinking is linked to a bacterial skin infection known as cellulitis. This skin condition often affects the lower legs and manifests as red, swollen skin that is painful and warm to the touch. Cellulitis is a serious skin infection that requires immediate treatment.
10. Premature Aging
A lesser-known way that alcohol impacts the skin is when there are too many free radicals present in the body (known as oxidative stress). Oxidative stress damages every type of cell in the body, including the skin.
Every day, we’re exposed to free radicals through food, pollution, UV rays, and alcohol, and research has concluded that alcohol releases a flood of free radicals into the body while also impairing the body’s antioxidant defenses. This double dose of oxidative stress leads to premature signs of aging, including fine lines and wrinkles.
11. Skin Cancer
Surprisingly enough, drinking alcohol is linked to skin cancer. How? UV light causes DNA mutations that our bodies work to repair. But, drinking alcohol can interfere with this process, leading to skin cancer.
12. Jaundice/Yellowing of the Skin
If you’re experiencing yellowing of the skin after drinking alcohol, it’s important to seek help immediately. This is likely a sign of alcoholic hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver that’s caused by drinking alcohol. People diagnosed with this condition must stop drinking alcohol right away. If they don’t, they face an increased risk of serious liver damage and death.
Other liver problems that impact the skin can arise from prolonged alcohol use, including alcoholic liver disease. Changes to the skin from this condition include:
- Dark skin around the eyes
- Blood vessels that are visible on the face, neck, and chest
- Itchy skin
How to Prevent the Effects of Alcohol on the Skin
To combat alcohol’s short-term effects on the skin, it’s recommended to drink water while consuming alcohol to try to stay hydrated.
There is also a topical cream called brimonidine that can be applied before consuming alcohol. The cream helps reduce skin flushing. The prescription cream is often prescribed by doctors to help treat rosacea.
But your best bet in preventing and stopping alcohol’s damaging skin effects is to stop drinking.
Speak with your doctor, friend, therapist, or a treatment center to get help giving up alcohol.
Get Help For Alcohol Addiction Today
If alcohol has been wreaking havoc on your skin and causing any of the above skin conditions, it’s important to get help. Contact Zinnia Health today to speak with one of our intake specialists about our alcohol abuse treatment programs and how you can get started on your journey to recovery today.