Alcohol And Eczema - Is There A Link?
So it’s a Friday, and your skin has been playing up again all week. Itching at night and disturbing your sleep, demanding CONSTANT moisturising to keep the dry skin hydrated, and turning red or inflamed at the drop of a hat.
Basically, it’s needy. And even though you promised to complete dry January all the way through, one drink won’t hurt, right?
Turns out, maybe it will! (Trust us we’re as gutted as you are).
So yeh, alcohol and eczema? It’s a thing - and not in a cute way.
In this article, you’ll learn:
1. The symptoms of eczema
2. The reason alcohol might be impacting your skin
3. How to drink without causing a flare up
4. Simple home treatment tips if it’s already too late
Let’s get to it!
First up, what are the symptoms of eczema?
- Itchy skin
- Dry, sensitive skin
- Rough leathery patches
- Oozing or weeping
- Areas of swelling and discomfort
In total there are 7 different types of eczema - all of which might show up differently on the skin.
Check out our Resources page for a deep dive into each one.
Alcohol and eczema - why it might be impacting your skin
Right then, why we all came to the party.
Alcohol causes a number of automatic responses in the body which might be impacting your skin and exacerbating your eczema symptoms. As ever it won’t likely be the solo trigger, but more a supporting cast member in the (long) story of your eczema flare ups.
1. Alcohol dehydrates
I’m sure everyone is already acutely aware of this - thanks to that dry mouth you wake up with every morning after drinking the night before. But when it comes to your skin, this plays a more prominent role.
Alcohol is a diuretic - meaning it will cause your body to release stored fluids. This on the surface seems fine, but when your body then demands this fluid to flush out internal toxins, we have a problem.
It will ‘steal’ moisture from your skin - and leave you with dry patches as a result.
2. Stops the absorption of vitamin C
Vitamin C is known to be a natural antihistamine and plays an important role in overall skin health. If you’re suffering from a deficiency (which could be likely if you drink regularly) there’s a possibility it might aggravate your eczema.
3. Can trigger inflammation
Some of the worst foods for triggering inflammation can be gluten, dairy and sugar. Unfortunately, that pint of beer or espresso martini contains all 3.
The result? A mini flare up. Exactly not what the doctor ordered.
4. Impairs immune system
Alcohol can suppress your immune system function when consumed regularly. This means you’re less equipped to fight off bacteria or viruses and as a result, weaker in your battle against eczema.
5. Can dilate blood vessels
This overtime can make your skin drier and more prone to inflammation or itchiness.
6. Leads to poor decisions over diet
We’ve all been there, and when you’re drunk or hungover it seems such a wonderful decision. But that large kebab or box of cookies really isn’t doing your skin (or your waistline) any favors.
Especially if you know certain food groups have triggered flare ups in the past, but still decide to scoff it anyway!
7. Kills good bacteria in the gut
Overall gut health is essential for keeping your body in top working order. Consistent alcohol consumption can kill off the good bacteria in your gut and lead to an overgrowth in bad flora and unfavorable microbes - a great way to worsen your eczema symptoms.
How to drink alcohol without causing a flare up
So despite the number of reasons why drinking alcohol is clearly bad for your skin, it’s still a great way to relax and unwind. This shouldn’t be underestimated and can be an important factor in maintaining good mental health.
So below are some top tips on how to drink without (hopefully) causing an eczema breakout.
1. Don’t overdo it!
Seriously that 4th glass of wine? Not worth it. Keep your drinking habits in check and try to show restraint when you do fancy a tipple. Your future self will thank you.
2. Stay away from alcohol that contains gluten, dairy or sugar
We know it can seem a little precious to be checking the sugar content when you’re down the pub, but it’s worth it. Gluten, dairy and sugar are top of the list for inflammation so try your best to avoid ‘em.
3. Take a Vit C supplement
We’d recommend doing so all the time to maintain good health, as it helps with wound healing and many other systemic symptoms, but especially if you’re planning a big night out.
4. Maintain healthy eating
Not easy, especially the day after, but try your best to stick to your eating routine and don’t go for any food groups you know can spark a flare up!
Simple home treatment tips for soothing a flare up
So there’s a chance, this article is already too late. If that’s the case, follow our guide below on how to soothe a flare up and relieve symptoms.
Stop the need to itch!
Not easy, but incredibly important if you want to break the itch-scratch cycle and stop your flare up heading into a downward spiral.
Luckily, our very own calming spray is exactly what you’ve been missing! Enriched with a blend of 3 traditional Chinese herbs used for 1000’s of years in Asian medicine, our plant-based formula has been especially designed to combat the symptoms of allergy-prone skin.
And the best bit? It’s steroid, paraben and sulphate free :)
When you suffer from eczema it’s likely you have a damaged skin barrier, making it more difficult for you to retain moisture. Grab your favorite emollient and slap it on 2-3 times a day to keep your skin hydrated.
Relax and prioritise your mental health
Hard to do, especially if you have children and life seems to rush past in a blur, but it’s imperative you keep a check on your own emotional wellbeing.
Stress and anxiety have a number of effects on the skin, so don’t let them creep up. We preach meditation and mindfulness to help here - jump over to our social channels @yanyeeskincare for a helping hand.
So yeh, alcohol and eczema? They’re linked. That’s a fact. But do you have to give up that Friday night glass of wine for the rest of time? Absolutely not.
The key is understanding your own triggers and symptoms, and being able to take preventative action when you fear a flare up might be approaching.
What have we missed? Jump over to our Twitter page and let us know!
The yan-yee team
- What to know about diuretics. (2019). Link
- Pullar JM, et al. (2017). The roles of vitamin C in skin health. Link
- Antihistamines. (2020). Link
- How alcohol can affect your immune system. (2020). Link
- Does gut health really affect skin health? (2020). Link
- Al-Jefri K, et al. (2017). High prevalence of alcohol use disorders in patients with inflammatory skin diseases. Link