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Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Rosacea?

You know that some people who drink tend to have red faces, but does drinking alcohol actually cause the red face, or is something else at play? Find out about the link between alcohol and rosacea here.

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness across your face, nose, forehead, cheeks, and chin. While we don’t know exactly what causes rosacea, we know it’s common — about 415 million people worldwide suffer from the disease. 

Many people think drinking alcohol can cause rosacea. Here at Central Utah Dermatology, our answer is… it’s possible. One study has concluded that while drinking alcohol may increase your risk of developing rosacea, no definitive link has been established. In short, more research is needed to determine whether drinking alcohol is a significant risk factor for rosacea.

What we do know is that while alcohol may not directly cause rosacea, drinking alcohol can trigger flare-ups and make your condition worse if you already suffer from rosacea. 

Read on as dual-board-certified dermatologist Dr. Adrian Tinajero discusses the relationship between alcohol and rosacea.

What is rosacea?

The facial redness that defines rosacea often begins with a new tendency to blush more often than before. As time goes on, the condition can progress and cause symptoms like facial swelling and inflammation, visible blood vessels, acne-like breakouts, a bumpy skin texture, and even red, irritated eyes.

While we don’t know the exact cause of this inflammatory skin condition, we do know that family history can play a role. We also know that middle-aged women are far more likely to develop rosacea than men and younger or older women. 

Other potential causes of rosacea include a reaction to bacteria, an intestinal infection, the overabundance of a mite called demodex that lives on your skin, and deficiency of a protein that usually protects your skin from infection.

Rosacea makes your skin very sensitive, so you may experience routine flare-ups depending on which triggers you’re reactive to. Common rosacea triggers include sunlight, heat, spicy foods, some skin and hair care products, wind and cold, exercise, certain medicines, and, of course, alcohol.

How does alcohol affect rosacea?

Alcohol triggers a rosacea reaction because it dilates (widens) the blood vessels in the skin. This increased blood flow to your epidermal tissues is what causes the condition to flare.

To determine how alcohol affects your rosacea, you should keep a journal of the alcohol you drink and the rosacea symptoms that show up soon after. This will also help you judge your tolerance levels, too. If you drink one glass of wine and have no reaction, but a second glass causes your cheeks to flush, you’ll have a better idea of how much you can drink without affecting your skin.

Your reactions may be different with various types of alcohol; red wine tends to cause rosacea flare-ups more readily than white wine, for example. Drinking cold water in between alcoholic drinks may help as well. This will help keep you hydrated — rosacea is worse in dehydrated skin, so counteracting the dehydrating effects of alcohol is important. The cool water will also keep your body from overheating, which is another rosacea trigger. 

Also, it’s important to remember that people who never drink alcohol can also get rosacea. 

How can you treat rosacea?

Common treatments for rosacea include identifying your triggers and avoiding them, protecting your skin from the sun anytime you’re outside, and using mild skin care products while being gentle with your skin. Severe cases may respond best to medication.  

If you notice that alcohol is one of your rosacea triggers, it’s best to avoid it. Over time, repeated rosacea flare-ups can damage your skin and cause your tissue to become thicker, or lead to a permanently flushed appearance marred by broken blood vessels.  

If you’re struggling with rosacea and would like professional help, Dr. Tinajero and our expert team at Central Utah Dermatology can give you the guidance and treatment you need to keep your skin healthy. Call your nearest office in Richfield, Hurricane, or Ephraim, Utah, today, or use our online scheduler to set up an appointment any time. 

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