What Alcohol Can Do to Your Skin

5 min to read

May 14, 2023

Fred Bass


Alcohol consumption can dehydrate the skin, making it appear dull and more prone to aging. It can also exacerbate conditions like rosacea and acne by dilating blood vessels and increasing inflammation. Over time, excessive drinking can lead to a loss of collagen and elasticity, speeding up the skin's aging process.

Alcohol, a central nervous system depressant widely used socially, poses significant health risks when abused. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects over 10% of Americans aged 12 and older, with binge drinking prevalent among adults. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to various health issues, including skin disorders, liver damage, and mental health problems. Recognizing signs of AUD is crucial, as it can lead to severe consequences and requires professional intervention to manage and treat effectively.

Abusing alcohol or other drugs can affect the body in several ways. With this in mind, there is no surprise that there’s a connection between alcohol and skin disorders.

Frequent abuse of alcohol can end up leaving the skin dry and damaged in some cases.

Many people know about the effects that alcohol abuse can have on the liver and heart but many don’t know the impact it can have on the skin. We’ll be taking a look at some of the effects alcohol abuse can have on the skin and how you or a loved one can seek help.

Drug and alcohol addiction in general can cause several problems in the different facets of a person’s life, including socially, mentally, and physically. Don’t wait, let Talua Health help you and your loved ones today.

man holding a glass of whiskey

What is Alcohol and How is it Abused?

Alcohol is a central nervous depressant, which essentially means it slows down the brain’s activity. As a popular drug, it is used in social settings and recreationally in all parts of the world.

10.2% of Americans aged 12 years and older had Alcohol Use Disorder in 2020. 24.0% of people aged 18 years and older reported binge drinking in the last 30 days; this is a 7.0% decline between 2019 and 2020.

While having a drink or two at a social gathering is accepted, drinking frequently and excessively can indicate a bigger problem.

Some people turn to alcohol to manage stress or to cope with other conditions in their life. Drinking frequently, binge drinking, and being unable to stop drinking can be signs of alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism.

What are the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorders?

Alcoholism can end up becoming a problem for everyone involved, especially the person who’s drinking. There is a connection between alcohol and:

  • Liver damage
  • Heart disease, and other problems

Common signs of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) are:

  • Failing or being unable to limit drinking
  • Spending large amounts of time drinking or acquiring alcohol
  • Urges or cravings to drink
  • Poor performance at school or at work (due to drinking)
  • Experiencing several withdrawal symptoms (nausea, shaking, etc.)
  • Building a tolerance to alcohol - needing more alcohol to experience its effects
  • Failed attempts to stop drinking in the past

These are prime indicators that someone may be dealing with a drinking problem. Unfortunately, millions of people every year fall into drinking habits. Luckily, centers like Tulua Health are here to make sure you get the best treatment possible.

Alcohol and Skin Disorders

With frequent drinking comes the risk for several skin disorders and conditions. Not only this, but heavy drinking can make pre-existing skin conditions much worse. Let’s take a look at some of the risks when it comes to alcohol and skin disorders.

Dry skin is a common problem for those who don’t drink. Weather conditions like sun exposure and cold winds can make your skin dry.

However, heavy drinking can lead to dry skin. While some beverages like coffee may have the same effect, drinking alcohol heightens this and creates a big risk for dehydration (of the body and skin).

With frequent drinking, your skin can appear dry, rough, itchy, and flaky due to dry skin. This is only heightened as a person continues to drink.

Another big factor of heavy alcohol consumption is skin aging. While skin aging is typically associated with smoking as well as other conditions, heavy drinking can be a cause of this. Drier and dehydrated skin is more likely to develop creases and fine lines, and as discussed previously, alcohol can be a major perpetrator in dry skin.

Additionally, alcohol can lead to free radicals, which mess with the skin’s structure. Heavy drinking can end up causing skin aging over time. Alcohol and skin disorders are prone if a person develops a drinking problem, this is why it’s important to get help if needed.

Alcohol in general opens the door for several forms of cancer, however, many don’t realize that skin cancer is among them. A person can develop both:

  • Malignant
  • Melanoma/non-melanoma skin cancers (from drinking frequently and heavily)

Drinking too much heavily increases your risk of skin cancer, it can also be a result of:

  • Heavy sun exposure while drinking
  • Dry skin
  • Low intake of antioxidants

Injury and bruising can be commonplace for those who tend to drink heavily and frequently. However, there is a deeper reason why a person may be more susceptible to bruising when under the influence of alcohol.

Bruising can be especially clear in those who abuse alcohol because of their nutritional status. Those who drink a lot are prone to vitamin deficiency and scurvy. This can open up a person to more severe bruising and other effects.

When a person abuses alcohol in heavy amounts for a long period of time, their skin may begin to become discolored. This can be due to jaundice, which comes about from liver damage. This discoloration can indicate a problem in the form of a yellowish hue. As with many of these skin disorders and problems, it’s best to consult with a professional.

How Tulua Health Can Help you Today

If you or a loved one is dealing with alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder, Tulua Health is here to help. While we do not offer addiction treatment, we offer hope and help for those who are suffering from mental health disorders. We understand that many people who struggle with alcoholism also deal with co-occurring mental health conditions. We can help!

Our dedicated staff will be by your side the whole way through. Some of our treatment programs include:

We’ll help you overcome your mental health challenges with evidence-based treatment. Give us a call today to learn more about our programs and where to begin.


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