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Why raising a glass could raise your risk with skin disease

Although an end of the day cocktail may be relaxing, it can also wreak havoc for those living with skin disease. We break down the research on drinking and skin disease.

Do you like a good relaxing drink, particularly after a stressful time at work or a hectic day running around after the kids? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But next time you pour yourself a glass of vino, you might want to make it a smaller one. According to the latest research, that ‘relaxing’ drink could actually have the opposite effect on your skin.4

People who drink alcohol are more at risk for psoriasis

This one is hard to believe, but research shows it could be true. Not only can drinking aggravate psoriasis symptoms, it can greatly increase your risk of developing the condition in the first place.4

One recent study, for example, revealed that women who drank more than 2.3 alcoholic beverages a week had a significantly higher risk of developing psoriasis than non-drinkers.1 The risks appear to be even higher in men, for whom a second study found regular alcohol consumption was associated with a greater risk of developing psoriasis, as well as an increase in severity of flare-ups.2

Drinking alcohol dries the skin…

Alcohol is a diuretic (the real reason you pee more after a big night out), which means it can dehydrate the body and dry out your skin.3 There’s also evidence that it alters the blood supply to your skin. We know, for example, that alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood to flow to the surface of the skin, which can aggravate conditions such as rosacea,4 as well as trigger the itchy hives seen in chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU).5

…and alters the immune system

Another big concern is that alcohol can profoundly affect the immune system6 and cause inflammation throughout the body.7 As if that’s not enough, alcohol consumption can lead to raised levels of a growth factor receptor that speeds up skin cell production – which is the reason you might notice your skin is flakier after a night on the town.8

Beer may be the worst culprit

Your choice of alcohol could make a difference, too – one study found beer was associated with the highest risk of psoriasis, leading the researchers to suspect that the gluten content could be to blame.9

Well, you’re no fun at Skin to live in!

If you’re saying this in your head, we don’t blame you! But we promise, we’re usually the life of the party. And we fully admit, while reducing your alcohol intake could certainly help with your skin, the odd drink now and then is probably fine.

You know who would know better than us? Your doctor! So if you have questions, or if you’re drinking in excess, take a moment to ask them about it. And if they say it’s ok, then we say “cheers.”

  1. Alcohol intake and risk of incident psoriasis in US women: a prospective study. Qureshi AA, Dominguez PL, Choi HK, Han J, Curhan G. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Dec;146(12):1364-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20713772
  2. Alcohol intake: a risk factor for psoriasis in young and middle aged men? Poikolainen K, Reunala T, Karvonen J, Lauharanta J, Kärkkäinen P. BMJ. 1990 Mar 24;300(6727):780-3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=1969757  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1662565/pdf/bmj00171-0026.pdf
  3. Huffington Post citing Dr. Debra Jaliman in “Here's How Alcohol Wrecks Your Skin... And How To Choose The Least Damaging Drink” Last accessed: 05.11.15. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/alcohol-skin_n_4146391.html
  4. Website “NIH, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases” – Questions and Answers about Rosacea. Last accessed: 05.11.15. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rosacea/
  5. Chronic urticaria and treatment options. Godse KV. Indian J Dermatol. 2009;54(4):310-2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20101328. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2807703/
  6. Cutaneous disease and alcohol misuse. Higgins EM, du Vivier AW. Br Med Bull. 1994 Jan;50(1):85-98. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=7908595
  7. Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development.Wang HJ, Zakhari S, Jung MK. World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar 21;16(11):1304-13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20238396. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842521/
  8. Ethanol and acetone stimulate the proliferation of HaCaT keratinocytes: the possible role of alcohol in exacerbating psoriasis. Farkas A, Kemény L, Széll M, Dobozy A, Bata-Csörgo Z. Arch Dermatol Res. 2003 Jun;295(2):56-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=12720008
  9. Alcohol intake and risk of incident psoriasis in US women: a prospective study. Qureshi AA, Dominguez PL, Choi HK, Han J, Curhan G. Arch Dermatol. 2010 Dec;146(12):1364-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20713772. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017376/

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