Alcohol Rash: How Alcohol Affects Your Skin

Alcohol can affect a person's skin in a number of negative ways, including by causing something called an alcohol rash. Alcohol can also affect a person’s skin in other ways, in both the short term and long term.

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While it is known that alcohol can affect a person’s body and health in numerous harmful ways, it is perhaps lesser known that alcohol can also affect a person’s skin.

Some of the effects of alcohol on the skin can be noticed right away, as soon as the person has a drink or while they are still drinking, such as an alcohol rash. Other effects will not be seen for months or even many years after.

Possible Causes Of An Alcohol Rash

The following are reasons why someone might develop an alcohol rash after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Allergy

Alcohol allergies are rare but can develop at any point during a person’s life.

It is more common for someone to be allergic to some other component in an alcoholic drink (grains or sulfites) and have a reaction than to be allergic to the alcohol itself.

Symptoms of an alcohol allergy are similar to that of a food allergy and include a rash, difficulty breathing, and stomach pain or cramps.

In severe cases, someone could go into anaphylactic shock, a potentially life-threatening condition which requires immediate medical attention.

Alcohol Intolerance

Alcohol intolerance is the result of a genetic condition that prevents the body from breaking down alcohol properly.

If someone has an alcohol intolerance, they will have an immediate reaction to alcohol and can even react from small amounts of alcoholic beverages.

This genetic trait is uncommon and occurs most frequently in Asian people, particularly those of east asian descent. It also occurs more commonly in people who have asthma or Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Initial symptoms of alcohol intolerance can be a red rash on the face and a runny, stuffy nose, and can progress to more severe symptoms like nausea and vomiting or asthma-like symptoms.

An alcohol intolerance can develop at any point in a person’s life, including into adulthood. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done except to avoid alcohol intake altogether.

Skin Conditions

Some pre-existing skin conditions that a person already has can be exacerbated by drinking alcohol.

In some cases, a person won’t even know they have a certain condition until drinking alcohol makes the condition more noticeable.

Skin conditions that can be made worse by alcohol include:

  • rosacea
  • psoriasis
  • dandruff
  • eczema
  • dermatitis
  • cellulitis

Rosacea in particular is associated with a condition called alcoholic nose, or sometimes drinker’s nose.

Characteristics of this condition include a red, bumpy, and swollen nose, almost like the skin is attempting to flush itself.

Anyone who has any of these conditions can tell you they are uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing. Avoiding alcohol, however, can help keep the condition from worsening.

Interaction Of Alcohol With Drugs

It is possible for alcohol to have negative interactions with medications that a person is taking that could result in facial flushing or a bodily rash.

This is more common in elderly people, who are more likely to be taking these kinds of medications and whose bodies have a more difficult time breaking down alcohol.

One interaction, in particular, to look out for is one between alcohol and topical tacrolimus. This medication is given to people with recent organ transplants to prevent their bodies from rejecting the new organ. When combined with alcohol, a reaction can occur mimicking anaphylaxis.

Please check with your healthcare provider if you are concerned about alcohol and drug interactions or if you possess any other risk factors.

Effects Of Alcohol On The Skin

Alcohol abuse can have both short-term effects and long-term effects on your skin.

Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol On The Skin

Heavy drinking can cause redness and facial flushing for some people, particularly around their cheeks and nose. This redness can even spread to other areas of the body and can be raised, bumpy, and itchy like hives.

This condition is more common in people who already have rosacea, but some people may never notice a reaction in their skin unless they drink alcohol.

It will likely be worse when consuming drinks with a high alcohol content, and red wine is notorious for enhancing these conditions.

Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol On The Skin

Alcohol is very dehydrating to the entire body, including your skin. Not only can this make skin look lackluster over time, but it can also cause premature aging and make wrinkles and lines look more prominent.

Alcohol abuse is also linked to certain cancers, including liver cancer and skin cancer. Because of this, some people can develop jaundice, which is a yellowing of the skin.

Treatments For Alcohol-Induced Rashes

The best way to avoid getting an alcohol-induced rash or other allergic reaction to alcohol is to avoid alcohol consumption altogether.

If this isn’t possible, you can try to avoid certain types of alcohol that are more prone to causing rashes and other side effects, such as liquor and other drinks with high alcohol content.

For a minor alcohol allergy, a physician might recommend an over-the-counter antihistamine or topical cream for itching. For someone who has this problem chronically, there is a laser treatment that can remove signs of the rash from skin.

Treatment Programs For Alcohol Abuse

Every rehab center will have its own unique offerings when it comes to alcohol use disorder treatment, but there are certain services you can expect to find at most treatment centers.

Treatment options for alcohol abuse include:

Find A Treatment Center For Alcohol Addiction Today

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we know how hard it can be to seek addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one. We are here to help you through the process.

Please do not hesitate to come to us with any questions or concerns you have. Our treatment specialists are experts in the field.

Give us a call to get started on your journey to recovery.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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