What Skin Problems Does Alcohol Cause?

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People are well-educated about the consequences and effects of alcohol on kidneys and liver.

However, there’s one major organ that is commonly overlooked in the discussion about how excessive alcohol intake affects the health status of individuals.

The majority of drinkers tend to consume alcohol because of its relaxation-inducing characteristics.

Most of them don’t exactly know that the effects extend beyond muscles and could negatively affect their mind.

Regular or even moderate drinking can provide a great impact on the most essential and visible organ of the body – the epidermis.

The excessive alcohol content in the human body can negatively affect the skin. Several skin problems may arise, especially if a person continuously drinks alcohol.

Treating an alcohol use disorder, such as those related to the skin, should not be a challenge if you act early and consult a specialist.

Skin Problems Caused by Alcohol Use Disorder

Here are reasons why alcohol use disorder causes skin problems:


Similar to diuretic fluids, alcohols dehydrate the human body. Once the body is dehydrated, not only the internal organs are affected but the skin as well.

The average water content of the human body is around 50-75%, and skin alone is mainly composed of 64% of water.

Once the body or the skin is hydrated and healthy, there’s a faster cell generation that happens.

So, once the body starts to lose its fluids, it slows down the cell regeneration in protecting other vital parts of the body.

The symptoms of dehydration commonly appear first on the skin and could result in flaky skin, cracked or dry lips, bigger pores, and enhanced wrinkles & imperfections.


Some people may notice that after having a great sleep at night, they still have puffy eyes upon waking up because of too much alcohol consumption.

At some point, age is one of the determinants of how fast alcohols exit the human bloodstream. So, the older the drinkers, the longer the alcohol takes.

In simpler terms, those drinkers in their 20’s who drink alcohol can exit the alcohol to the bloodstream in just 1 day.

For those drinkers in their 40’s who drink alcohol, the alcohol may exit their bloodstream for about 3-7 days.

That’s why even though they consume alcohol on interval days, they may still feel bloated.

They may also notice that after they drink alcoholic beverages, swelling may occur on their face and some other portions of their body.

It is because of the blood flowing to the various parts of the body triggered by alcohol hormones.


Inflammation of the skin is quite the same with swelling; however, this is a quite worse reaction of the skin due to excessive alcohol content in the body.

Skin inflammation is a condition in which some areas of the human body, commonly occurring to the face, becomes reddish.

This only means that blemishes stick more as these become worsen or reddened from the hormones and chemicals in alcohol.

So, when a person is still young and doesn’t drink too much alcohol, then skin inflammation also reduces in a short time.

Moreover, if a person decreases his alcohol intake, then his body becomes more efficient in healing, providing a better younger-skin surface.

It was defined by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or CDCP and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or NIAAA that 8 drinks for women and 15 drinks for men every week is considered heavy drinking.

Blood also circulates freer, faster, and more efficient for more even skin tone and texture; however, if a person excessively drinks alcohol as young as he is right now, then skin inflammation becomes constant.

This may then lead to a severe or indefinite condition of skin inflammation, also recognized as Rosacea.

Rosacea is a type of skin condition that may come in various forms, but the most common of it can be found on a person’s face.

This is typically seen on foreheads or cheeks and can be quickly mistaken as rashes. In some cases, this may cause some facial disfigurement, especially when excessive alcohols are present in the human body.

Collagen Degeneration

The appearance of wrinkles is one of the skin problems which anyone may think of.

Its production or appearance of wrinkles is also because of the alcohol content in the human body, which destroys collagen on the skin surface.

Generally, collagen does something on making the skin surface flexible; so, if a person is healthy, then his skin is pulled out and bounced right back.

Although this kind of change naturally comes as individual ages, excessive use of alcohol is still one of the reasons why there’s a rapid change on their skin; this is because of the quick collagen reduction.

So, if a person suddenly thought or realized that alcoholism might be bad for their skin, then it’s not yet too late to make things good or even better.

Over time, long-term drinking of alcohol will not only provide a negative-looking appearance of the individuals but also have an impact on their overall lifestyle.

Signs of Alcoholism Skin

Alcoholism is one of the reasons why skin surface becomes dull and dry, and too much alcohol in the human body would somehow provide skin problems or issues in the future days.

Some prominent signs of alcoholism on the skin may be noticed, especially if an individual keeps on drinking without proper management and control.

If a person has some serious drinking issue, then he may suffer from skin problems.

Before the appearance of severe skin problems due to excessive drinking of alcohol, the common physical signs of alcoholism on the skin are the following:

  • Yellowish skin and yellowing of whites on the person’s eyes, which is a sign that the liver has already damage or problem (commonly known as jaundice)
  • Pale skin due to the deficiency of iron (oftentimes referred to as anaemia, which is common to alcoholic people)
  • Almost dry skin because of the absence of collagen in skin due to the chemicals in alcohol within the person’s body.
  • Reddish, swollen, or even inflammation of skin because of too much alcohol content in the body

Aside from these signs of alcoholism on the skin, some physical signs of alcoholism cannot be noticed by just staring at the person alone.

That’s why some crucial medical tests are necessary to be undertaken to know the alcohol-related problems in the body.

There are still some other physical signs of alcoholism, such as nerve damage, ulcers, or changes in the brain structure, which leads to dementia or some serious problems that affect the brain.

These serious problems require some complicated medical procedures or tests so that a person can be diagnosed well.

Symptoms of Alcoholism Skin

Alcoholism can be linked or associated with skin damages or problems. These are some crucial things that anyone should not overlook if he wanted to have a younger-looking appearance throughout his youthful days.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, alcoholism is a fundamental chronic disease that contains psychosocial, genetic, and environmental factors that influence its manifestations and development.

Hence, this disease is oftentimes fatal and progressive.

ASAM categorized it by reduced control in drinking, utilization of alcohol despite adverse consequences or effects, distortions in cognitive thinking, and preoccupation with drug alcohols.

In this article, it is understandable that the signs or symptoms of alcoholism may vary from one person to another.

And since this condition is said to be progressive, the signs and symptoms might improve over time based on the numerous types of symptoms, their impact, and their severity.

Early Symptoms of Alcoholism

Anyone may notice some skin problems due to excessive alcohol content in the body.

There are some early symptoms that individuals may observe as they even face a person who keeps on drinking alcohol.

So, either regular drinkers or even moderate drinkers may be negatively affected and may cause some skin damages, inflammations, or any skin-related issues.

To learn more about these early symptoms related to skin problems, take a glimpse at the lists below:

  • Established pattern on heavy drinking
  • Frequent intoxication
  • Frequently thinking about alcohols
  • Planning some sorts of activities and activities around the consumption of alcohol
  • Drinking in some perilous instances like when driving

Other early symptoms of alcoholism include drastic changes in demeanour while they are drinking, like being upset or violent in the middle of a drinking session with their friends.

Progressive Symptoms of Alcoholism

As what being mentioned a while ago, the symptoms of alcoholism are fatal and become progressive.

Once a person continuously drinks after he reached his maximum level and caused such problems, there might be some progressive symptoms that may occur.

Some of these progressive symptoms include denial of the presence of drinking problem, experiencing personality changes or mood swings, drinking alcohol again after waking up, consuming a higher volume of alcohol contents than planned and experiencing some symptoms of withdrawal on alcohols.

Along with these early and progressive symptoms of alcoholism, alcohol contents in the human body will then have great negative impacts on the entire system.

Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism Related to Skin Problems

Some physical symptoms that individuals may observe or notice to their body once they had excessive alcohol are shattered capillaries on their nose and face, yellowish skin and eyes because of possible liver damage, dry skin, inflammation, and even rashes on some parts of the skin.

These skin problems are common to drinkers who regularly had alcohol intake to their bodies.

Coping Up Alcoholism and Improving Lifestyle to Enhance Skin Appearance

Aside from the professional support and treatment, there are several things that individuals can do for them to feel better and improve their recovery process.

Some of these things that they need to do and consider for them to recover from this problem fully are the following:

  • Know the factors that trigger them to crave alcohol. Once they already know these things, then they should limit themselves on these things.
  • Handle stress without using alcohol since this is not the solution to this problem.
  • Practice good health habits since these are the road for full recovery from alcoholism.

These 3 simple things and procedures should be realized by everyone for the betterment of their life.

They can somehow improve their lifestyle since proper management and control of alcohol can now be avoided.


Alcoholism can be treated as long as that the person is willing to be treated and should cooperate in his recovery process.

Moreover, if a person will limit himself on taking this alcohol, then skin problems may be prevented, which results in a good-looking appearance.

Anyone will not suffer from negative physical effects of alcohol on their skin like inflammation, rashes, pale skin, and others.

They may not also experience some mood swings, depressions, anxiety, and other related mental health problems, which may be caused by excessive alcohols to the human body.

Today is the time to realize the importance of taking care of one’s self towards a better way of living.

Take note that Abbeycare can be your trusted partner in this journey. 

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Pete has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. To read more about Pete visit his LinkedIn profile.