Rosacea and alcohol have a reputation for being connected, as people who drink heavily often develop facial reddening in the long term. Studies indicate that alcohol does not cause rosacea, as is popularly believed, but it can be a trigger for someone who already has this skin condition. People with rosacea may want to avoid drinking alcohol and should definitely avoid alcohol-based skincare products, as they can trigger flareups of rosacea.
Rosacea is a condition seen primarily in fairskinned people where the face is subject to flushing and redness. People can flush in response to dietary triggers, stress, excitement, cold, and a number of other factors. This condition can cause embarrassment for patients, and there are treatments available to minimize rosacea symptoms and make people feel more comfortable.
In the case of rosacea and alcohol, a number of famous people known for heavy drinking also had rosacea and developed extreme symptoms of untreated rosacea including lumpy, reddish skin and excess tissue on their faces. This led to a false belief that drinking alcohol would cause this condition, while these individuals actually had rosacea before they started abusing alcohol, and the high alcohol consumption simply made the condition worse.
Alcohol can trigger a flareup of rosacea by dilating the blood vessels, increasing bloodflow to the face and causing facial flushing. In addition, some alcohols contain other compounds known to dilate blood vessels, explaining the range of facial flushing observed in rosacea patients drinking different types of alcohol like beer, wine, and hard spirits. Rosacea and alcohol can be a bad mix, as the face will flush while drinking and this can contribute to the development of permanent damage in the long term.
People with rosacea have a number of options when it comes to managing the condition. Medications and surgery are available to treat facial flushing and lifestyle adjustments can also be made. Drinking rarely and in moderation can reduce the number of rosacea episodes caused by alcohol, keeping the risk of permanent damage to the face low. People concerned about rosacea and alcohol can try testing different kinds of drinks to see which are least likely to cause facial flushing. Doctors may be able to provide advice to help patients identify the safest drinks for consumption in moderation on social occasions.
Damage to the skin associated with rosacea and alcohol consumption can be made worse by exposure to ultraviolet light and other sources of skin damage. People should be aware of the sensitivity of their skin and use appropriate protections on the face to keep damage limited so their skin will be clear later in life.