Does Alcohol Cause Acne?


Everyone knows that excessive alcohol consumption damages your health. It can take a toll on the skin, even if alcohol is not the direct cause of acne. 

So, how alcohol affects your body, and how could this impact your skin? 

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Alcohol Can Trigger Acne, But It’s Not the Direct Cause

Acne is a skin condition that can manifest at all stages of life, from adolescence to adulthood. It stems from hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and poor skin care. This article, let us understand does alcohol cause acne.

However, despite good health and hygiene, excessive drinking can still make your skin prone to acne. Breaking this bad habit may be enough to prevent future outbreaks. 

Alcohol does not cause acne but can trigger and worsen this condition. As a diuretic, it increases urination and dehydrates your body. The sebaceous glands start to secrete more sebum than necessary, making your skin greasy, which leads to pimples. 

In addition, alcohol makes your organs produce toxins. Such toxins come out through the skin, harming its appearance and health. 

Excess alcohol is detrimental to both the skin and the overall health of your body. Alcohol causes blood vessels to expand, reddening your face and neck and aggravating certain skin conditions such as rosacea. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption comes with changing blood sugar levels. It can make your blood sugar rise or drop dangerously. The alcohol metabolisation process leads to slow cell regeneration, which marks your face with dark circles around the eyes, grey skin, and red spots.

The skin is our body’s biggest organ. It is versatile and plays an essential role in keeping us healthy. 

But the skin’s main job is to be a protective shield. It preserves our well-being by: 

  • Maintaining the body’s balance of fluid; 
  • Keeping the body hydrated; 
  • Regulating the body temperature: retaining heat in cold weather and sweating when it is hot; 
  • Detecting pain and alerting us of any potential danger; 
  • Absorbing shocks and defending the entirety of our body against external threats. 

The skin protects us from different environmental elements, including fluctuations in temperature and humidity. It helps us to regulate our body temperature, retain moisture, and maintain proper fluid balance. 

Our skin is a barrier between us and viruses, bacteria, and pollutants. It keeps us safe by preventing these dangerous intruders from entering our bodies. 

It also serves as the first layer of protection against UV rays. Overexposure to these harmful rays creates free radicals. These unstable atoms damage body cells, resulting in potential illnesses and premature ageing. 

The skin reacts to pain and alerts us to danger. It defends us from harsh chemicals and other irritants and acts as a shock absorber for everyday bumps and bruises.  

Your skin is your most important defence against the exterior world. It protects you, and you must protect it by following a proper skincare routine and diet. Doing so will keep you safe and healthy.

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Buildup of Toxins 

Alcohol has an indirect but significant impact on the skin. The liver processes around 80% of the alcohol we consume. The metabolisation of ethanol is a complex process of oxidation. Alcohol breaks down into toxic substances.

The more you drink, the more toxins accumulate in your organs. It leads to inflammation, pancreatitis, liver diseases, and gastric issues. These health conditions have a direct effect on the skin. In addition, alcohol metabolisation toxins come out through the skin, clogging pores and causing acne outbreaks.

Different Types Of Alcohol and Their Effects On Your Skin

Different types of alcoholic beverages have different effects on the body and skin when consumed. 

Clear Liquors

Though high in alcohol percentage, clear liquors are not hard on the skin. Clear liquors are free from the fermentation-related compounds that dark alcohols have. Plus, liquors like vodka contain no extra sugar or salt. They leave your system quicker than wine, beer, and mixed drinks, lowering the risk of puffiness, redness, and potential acne breakouts. 

Research even suggests that tequila helps reduce blood sugar levels and aids digestion. 

However, people generally consume clear liquors with mixer drinks, which changes their effect. Mixers are usually sugary sodas and syrups, which can cause facial inflammation and pimples.

White Wine

Much like red wine, white wine contains sulfites. Sulfites are preservatives that prevent wine from spoiling, and they are known to cause rosacea or facial redness. You can still enjoy your favourite white wines in moderation. 

When you drink white wine, try not to exceed two glasses. Make sure you supplement each glass of white wine with a glass of water. It will help maintain the body’s fluid balance and prevent dehydration. 

Mixed Drinks 

Cocktails are an absolute no-no if you want to keep your skin looking healthy. They contain lots of sugar and additives, which can cause acne and allergic reactions. Plus, they stay longer in your system due to longer digestion times, causing a nasty hangover with itchy, tired skin in the morning – not to mention pimples.

Hormone Imbalances 

Excessive alcohol consumption disrupts the brain’s communication pathways. It affects the endocrine, nervous, and immune systems, which leads to hormonal imbalances with far-reaching impacts on the body. It can cause alterations in stress responses, reproductive issues, bone loss, and cognitive troubles. 

In addition, research has shown that alcohol can cause higher levels of testosterone and estradiol, a form of estrogen, in women. High estrogen makes the sebaceous glands secrete extra sebum, which clogs pores and causes pimples. It links alcohol consumption to acne outbursts directly. 

Can Alcohol Cause Itchy Skin?

Alcohol acts as a diuretic. It encourages your body to expel fluids through urination and sweat. This excessive exudation leads to dehydration, making the skin take on a dry, tight feeling. If you consume alcohol regularly, chronic itching may set in. 

Alcohol can also worsen skin conditions that cause itching, such as seborrheic dermatitis – a condition characterised by scaly patches, inflamed skin, and dandruff in oily areas. It appears to occur more frequently among heavy drinkers. 

In addition, excessive alcohol consumption can trigger and aggravate psoriasis, an autoimmune disease associated with thick, scaly patches that cover the skin. Research suggests that excessive drinking may increase the risk of getting psoriasis and make it resistant to treatment. 

How Can Drinking Age People?

UV rays are the main factor that causes premature skin ageing. However, excessive alcohol consumption and poor eating habits significantly contribute to the body’s ageing process. Alcohol is full of calories that do not provide nutritional value to the body. It puts much strain on the liver and exhausts you, which makes cell regeneration slower.

Numerous studies have demonstrated how excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks can speed up the body’s ageing process.

Research links excessive drinking to telomere shortening. Telomeres are small sections of repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of our chromosomes that act like protective caps. They allow cells to divide properly and play an enormous role in body functioning. Telomeres naturally shorten as we age, but alcohol can accelerate this process. It leads to premature skin ageing and an increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, and cancer. 

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FAQs

Why Do I Get Acne When I Drink Alcohol?

Drinking can cause acne because of a buildup of toxins in the body and skin tissues. Alcohol can also lead to hormonal imbalances, resulting in an excess amount of sebum. Excessive sebum production makes the skin oily and greasy, making it more likely for you to experience problems such as pimples and breakouts. 

Does Alcohol Cause Skin Problems?

Alcohol does not cause acne directly, but it affects the body in ways that can lead to the development of imperfections and pimples. When you drink alcohol, toxins are released into the body. These toxins are later eliminated through the skin, resulting in clogged pores and an increased risk of infection and inflammation.

In addition, it causes your sebaceous glands to produce too much sebum, which further increases the risk of acne-related issues. Alcohol also harms internal organs such as the liver, pancreas, and digestive system. Digestive troubles can be linked to the aggravation of different skin conditions, including acne.

What Drinks Cause Acne?

It is best to avoid drinking altogether because all types of alcohol damage your skin. However, some drinks make it more likely for you to experience acne and other skin problems, such as mixed drinks and dark liquors. Mixed drinks contain additives, salt, and sugar that make them hard to digest. They stay in your system longer and put more strain on your body, resulting in inflammation. Dark liquors can also cause pimples due to the impurities from the fermentation process. The clearer the drink, the less chance it causes skin issues.

Is Alcohol Ok for Acne?

If you have acne or other skin problems, drinking alcohol may worsen them. It can also lead to dryness and itchiness and accelerate skin ageing. Therefore, abstaining from alcoholic beverages altogether is the best way to keep your skin looking healthy and glowing.

References

  1. Rachdaoui, N. and Sarkar, D.K. (2013) “Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System,” Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America”, 42(3), pp. 593–615. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecl.2013.05.008.
  2. Vogue (2022) “The Effects of Alcohol on Skin, And How to Manage Them,” Vogue, 31 December. Available at: https://www.vogue.com/article/alcohol-skin-damage-effects.
  3. Drinking makes you older at the cellular level (2017). Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170626105322.htm
  4. Alcohol’s effects on the body. (n.d.). niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/alcohols-effects-body
  5. Higgins LM, et al. (2015). A healthy indulgence? Wine consumers and the health benefits of wine. DOI:10.1016/j.wep.2015.01.001
  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. (n.d.) Acne: Tips for managing. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/skin-care/tips
  7. Kazakevich N, Moody MN, Landau JM, Goldberg LH. Alcohol and skin disorders: with a focus on psoriasis. Skin Therapy Lett. 2011 Apr;16(4):5-6. PMID: 21611681.

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