Why your skin flushes when you drink alcohol


Have you ever wondered why your skin breaks out in a red-hot flush after a glass of wine? Do you put it down to ‘just the wine’ and hope that the redness goes away as your body gets used to it?

Well, we’re sorry to break it to you, but this often-ignored flush is actually your skin having a reaction to ingredients in the alcohol. But before you swear off your evening glass of merlot or whatever your poison of choice, BscN Registered Nurse and founder of Clear Complexions Clinics Suzie Hoitink is helping us understand the facts and how we can go about preventing long-term damage to our complexions from alcohol.

What causes the ‘wine-flush’?

Alcohol increases blood flow to the skin causing vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels and capillaries close to the surface of the skin, which can leave skin feeling flushed and red. It’s also common in people with pre-existing vascular skin conditions such as rosacea or psoriasis.

So is this an allergic reaction?

While the most common cause of flushing when drinking alcohol is from vasodilation, it can also be because of a release of histamines that can cause a reaction such as red, raised and itchy bumps or ‘hives’.

Does this mean I need to give up my nightly red?!

If you notice immediate flushing of the skin after drinking alcohol, I would advise to cease drinking. If you suffer from rosacea, you should consume red wine in moderation as it contains antioxidants that can make it worse. If welts or hives occur, an antihistamine may be needed to help reduce the skin’s reaction.

So how can we treat this redness in the long-term?

Intense Pulse Light (IPL) or the ND YAG Laser is useful for treating capillaries and redness. Topical vitamin A creams are great for building collagen and elastin, which can be broken down by alcohol, and can also help to reduce the appearance of blood vessels. A balanced diet will also ensure that your skin receives all of the vital nutrients and water it needs for skin cell regeneration.

Does your skin react when you drink alcohol? How do you treat your ‘wine-flush’?

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