General Question

growler's avatar

Does alcohol irritate the skin?

Asked by growler (403 points ) June 8th, 2010

Whenever I drink alcohol, even a tiny sip, my face becomes flushed and a region of my skin becomes feverish to the touch. This same region happens to have an eczema problem. I do not believe it is an allergy to hops, grapes, etc. since it occurs whether I sip beer, wine, or whiskey.

I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for this occurrence. Does this happen to anyone else? Is this a normal reaction? And, for the record, I’m of legal age.

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13 Answers

janbb's avatar

Wine does that to me especially. I have very reactive skin and I will flush and get hot when I drink wine.

lilikoi's avatar

It is probably an allergic reaction. I’ve heard it is some genetic thing that Asians are predisposed to (but that affects some non Asians as well). In my experience, I can vouch for this being true. I get very red when I drink the tiniest amount of alcohol as well. It’s freaking annoying when people assume you’re drunk after a quarter of a beer when in fact your body is simply reacting to the alcohol.

Zyx's avatar

I’m pretty sure that’s just the ethanol’s effect on your small bloodvessels.
gasoline will actually irritate your skin if you touch it.

ItsAHabit's avatar

You may be experiencing the Oriental Flushing Reflex which has a genetic etiology. This syndrome, which is most often found among Asians, causes a red facial flush often accompanied by a number of other unpleasant symptoms.

zenele's avatar

Sounds like allergies.

perspicacious's avatar

I have heard of people’s face becoming red when they drink, so you are not alone there. I have not idea why it happens. It would seem to be a circulation issue or allergy.

cazzie's avatar

Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, even (or especially) the capillaries on the surface. That is why it is actually a bad idea to drink brandy out in the cold. It can increase the risk of hypothermia.

kat14's avatar

you should go to a doctor if it continues . its probably like the following above^^^ an allergic reaction

GeorgeGee's avatar

It sounds like the reaction is so fast and the amount so small that your physiology isn’t to blame, I would suspect a psychosomatic component to your reaction. A friend’s grandmother reacted that way, but if you told her that grape juice was wine before she sipped it, she would also have the same reaction.

growler's avatar

Hmm, interesting answers so far. @GeorgeGee I find it unlikely that it’s psychosomatic, since it does focus on a specific area, but I won’t rule it out. Too bad I can’t test it out myself.

@cazzie Interesting tip. I’ll make sure not to do that :)

shanaas's avatar

Ya it will irritate sometimes ..
It depends upon the skin…

selliottjr's avatar

wine contains mold; and if you have other allergies (especially to grass) then this can be a cross-reactive allergy. The same is true of beer and rye; if you must imbibe then go with something like Vodka or Gin.

cazzie's avatar

Alcohol also deprives the body of certain B vitamins that are essential for healthy skin. It has to do with the liver and how busy it gets with metabolising alcohol and what it needs to effectively support the entire human body. With most substance abuse, the skin often shows the first signs of its effect. Broken capillaries or a pallor and greyness often reflect the drug or drugs that are being induced.

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