While alcohol consumed in moderation has been linked to several health benefits, one must consider if these benefits truly outweigh any negative effects that alcohol can have on the body, especially if alcohol is consumed in excess or for a prolonged period of time. For example, drinking alcohol has been linked to instances of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers, dilated blood vessels and a flushed appearance, and even urticarial. In most instances, these conditions can be relieved or prevented by simply limiting or stopping one’s alcohol intake. In this article we would like discuss some common alcohol-induced skin conditions.
Of all of the ways alcohol can influence the skin, one of the very worst is glycation.
Alcohol is considered a poison by your body, and all efforts are made to excrete it. The greatest impact is seen in those who drink heavily on a frequent basis. Heavy drinkers deplete their glycogen stores within a few hours when their diet does not provide a sufficient amount of carbohydrates. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can decrease insulin’s effectiveness, resulting in high blood sugar levels (MedicineNet).
When blood sugar is high, some of the sugar molecules can attach to proteins, including the collagen proteins of the skin. When this happens, the sugar causes the protein to become misshapen. The sugar-protein complex also forms cross-links with other sugar-protein complexes, and this reeks all sorts of havoc for your skin, from wrinkling to sagging to age spots to dehydration to a loss in elasticity.
For this reason, it’s smart to imbibe within reason (just one or two!), or not at all.
Perhaps the condition most commonly associated with alcohol is flushing, when the skin takes on a bright rosy hue. Research from the journal has found that , though more research was needed to affirm these findings. However, excessive vasodilation can lead to the development of varicose veins.
When you drink alcohol, it increases your heart rate, which in turn increase the rate and intensity of blood flowing through your veins, causing veins to swell and cast a flushed, rosy appearance. Repeated swelling and bulging of the veins may lead to spider veins later in life () A study rom the journal found a (spider veins), especially in female participants.
Psoriasis and Uritcaria
In those individuals with existing psoriasis, alcohol make exacerbate psoriasis’ symptoms, especially information (). Scientists are still unsure as to the exact way in which alcohol exacerbates psoriasis, or if a relationship even exists. excessive consumption may make the body more susceptible to those infections which can induce or aggravate symptoms of psoriasis. Some also hypothesize that alcohol impairs the skin barrier function and the epidermal metabolism by disrupting lipid metabolisms in the body ().
Those who drink alcohol may also suffer from bouts of uticaria (hives), which typically result from as an allergic reaction to alcohol (). Urticaria typically physicalize themselves as red, raised patches of skin that may itch or burn.
It is important to note that studies linking alcohol consumption with development of skin cancer are very few, and many contain design flaws such as a small participant pool or self-reported symptoms. Also, some hypothesize that those who drink alcohol to excess may also engage in other risky behaviors, such as overexposure to UV rays, unhealthy diets, etc. These confounding variables may obviously play a role. Nevertheless, research indicates that alcohol may play a role in the development of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
A study from the journal found that increased alcohol take and the alcohol intake over one’s life positively affected one’s potential to develop skin cancer. Specifically, they found that s. Those who favored white wine had a 16% higher likelihood of developing NMSC than non-drinkers, whereas those who drank liquor has a 26% higher likelihood of developing NMSC. . However, this study did face several hidden variables; it tested only post-menopausal Caucasian women and relied largely on self-report surveys to collect data about alcohol consumption.
Similarly, a study from the journal found that increased alcohol intake generally correlated to a higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, though the risk rates according to which beverage was imbibed. For example, . However, other studies were unable to find significant correlations between alcohol intake and the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer () or the risk of squamous cell carcinoma ().
Although alcohol’s direct effects on the skin are still not-well researched, excessive alcohol intake can negatively affect your skin. Cases of flushing may turn into spider veins after years of alcohol-induced vasodilation, whereas drinking alcohol may also exacerbate existing skin conditions (like psoriasis) or even cause an allergic reaction.
Though more research must be conducted, several studies have pointed to a possible relationship between the amount and types of alcohol one drinks compared to one’s likelihood of developing a form of skin cancer. While giving up alcohol altogether may seem extreme, you should consider drinking in moderation and consulting your dermatologist whenever you believe you may have alcohol-induced skin irritations.