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Alcohol May Increase Risk of Skin Condition in Women

Alcohol and women's skin condition

Drinking alcohol has a number of effects on the body that can impact the skin, says a board-certified dermatologist.


Rosacea is a common disorder of the facial skin that is estimated to affect over 16 million Americans. It typically begins after the age of 30 as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead which may come and go. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop.

Although rosacea can affect all segments of the population, individuals with fair skin who tend to flush or blush easily are believed to be at greatest risk. The disease is more frequently diagnosed in women, but more severe symptoms tend to be seen in men.

There is no cure for rosacea but medical therapy is available to control or reverse its signs and symptoms. There may also be a lifestyle switch you can make to help reduce risk.

Researchers with Brown University have found that consumption of alcohol, particularly white wine and liquor, is associated with a higher risk of rosacea in women. Dr. Abrar Qureshi also notes that past studies have linked alcohol to psoriasis and acne as well.

For this latest study, the authors reviewed data collected from more than 80,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. The study took place over a 14-year period from 1991 to 2005.

Overall, women who drank alcohol had an elevated risk of developing rosacea and that risk increased as their alcohol consumption increased. Even just one to three drinks per month led to a 14% increased risk. Five or more in a week – the risk increased by 28 % to 49%!

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The team believes that alcohol weakens the immune system and also widens the blood vessels of the face, which contributes to redness and flushing.

In this study, white wine and liquor were the most often implicated in increasing risk of rosacea. However, red wine may also be a trigger for those who already have the disease due to its histamine and resveratrol content.

"Women who wish to maintain the health of their skin -- and their overall health -- should limit their alcohol consumption," Dr. Qureshi says.

And for those with rosacea, be sure to avoid other common triggers such as sunlight, caffeine, and hot and spicy foods.

Journal Reference:
Suyun Li, Eunyoung Cho, Aaron M. Drucker, Abrar A. Qureshi, Wen-Qing Li. Alcohol intake and risk of rosacea in US women. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2017.02.040

Additional Resources:
National Rosacea Society
American Academy of Dermatology

Photo Credit:
By JPS68 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons