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Alcohol and Health

Can Drinking Alcohol Trigger an Eczema Flare?

October 29, 2023
9 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
October 29, 2023
9 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
October 29, 2023
9 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
October 29, 2023
9 min read
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Reframe Content Team
October 29, 2023
9 min read

Ever feel like you're hosting a non-stop, solo scratch-fest thanks to your itchy skin? Welcome to the world of eczema, an unwelcome guest known for inflaming skin without notice, leaving a trail of itchiness that's more than just a rash. Managing eczema feels like detective work, requiring constant sleuthing to spot triggers. But did you know the glass of wine you unwind with could be a secret saboteur, fueling your skin's unrest? Alcohol, a notorious inflammation instigator, might be conspiring against your skin's peace. Is it time to reassess your relationship with your favorite libation? Let’s delve into the mystery of alcohol's role in eczema and explore whether laying off the booze could be your ticket to soothing your skin.

What Is Eczema?

Eczema, known scientifically as atopic dermatitis, is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by itchy, red, and dry skin. Its causes are diverse, ranging from genetics to environmental factors — and, yes, possibly even what you eat or drink.

Anyone who has experienced eczema can tell you — it's not just a rash. The itchiness can be intense, often becoming an “itch-scratch cycle.” Scratching provides temporary relief, but can worsen the condition, leading to more itchiness and even infection if the skin breaks.

Managing eczema is a bit like detective work. We might need to identify and avoid personal triggers, keep the skin moisturized, and perhaps use prescribed medications for flare-ups. Regular consultation with healthcare providers, especially dermatologists, can be crucial in managing the condition.

Eczema doesn't always come alone. It can be linked to other allergic conditions like hay fever and asthma, creating a trio often referred to as the “allergic triad.”

Beyond the physical discomfort, eczema can also have significant emotional effects. It might impact self-esteem, sleep quality, and general daily life.

The Alcohol Connection

So how does booze fit into the eczema picture? Alcohol is a known inflammatory substance. When consumed, it leads to the production of certain chemicals in the body known as cytokines, part of the body's internal alarm system for inflammation.

Research shows that the consumption of alcohol increases the levels of inflammatory cytokines, exacerbating conditions in which inflammation is already a problem — like eczema. Moreover, alcohol can interfere with our sleep — and fatigue is another trigger for eczema. You’ve heard of "beauty sleep"? It's not just about looking good. It’s also about giving our skin the rest it needs to keep inflammation at bay.

Digging Deeper

Another way that alcohol triggers eczema has to do with its metabolism. When we consume alcohol, it's processed by our liver, a process that produces toxic byproducts. One such byproduct is acetaldehyde, a substance that causes inflammation and damages tissues throughout the body, including the skin.

Another thing to remember is that alcohol is dehydrating. Eczema-prone skin is already dry, and alcohol can make it even drier, leading to itchiness and potential flare-ups.

Finally, alcohol can cause our blood vessels to expand, making our skin more sensitive to irritants and allergens, which can worsen eczema. In short, while a glass of wine or a pint of beer might seem like a good idea in the moment, it might spell trouble when it comes to sensitive skin!

Can Quitting or Cutting Back on Alcohol Help?

Given alcohol’s potential effects on eczema, it makes sense to wonder if reducing alcohol could help manage your skin condition better. While everyone's body responds differently, the science does suggest that lowering alcohol consumption could potentially decrease inflammation and help manage symptoms.

Your Action Plan

If you're looking to quit or cut back on alcohol to manage your eczema, here are some steps you can take:

A concise infographic on managing ezoma, providing valuable insights and tips
  • Set clear goals. Whether you want to reduce your alcohol intake gradually or quit completely, a clear goal can guide your journey.
  • Develop a mindful drinking strategy. This involves being aware of what you're drinking and how much. Savoring your beverage can reduce the amount you drink and let you become more aware of its effects on your body.
  • Engage in alcohol-free activities. Find hobbies or activities that don't involve drinking. They can distract you from the desire to drink and can also help in stress management, which can benefit your skin.
  • Start a skin care journal. Record your skin condition daily or weekly, noting what you eat, drink, and any changes in your skin. This can help you identify any triggers, including alcohol.
  • Incorporate physical activity. Regular physical activity can reduce stress and improve overall health, which can be beneficial for managing your eczema.
  • Incorporate a stress-management routine. Since stress can exacerbate eczema, finding methods to manage it, like yoga, meditation, or other relaxation techniques, can be beneficial.
  • Find alternatives. If your Friday night feels incomplete without a drink, find alternatives like flavored water, non-alcoholic cocktails, or herbal teas. There’s also a growing market of non-alcoholic beers and wines that can offer you the taste without the potential skin-irritating effects of alcohol!
  • Stay hydrated. As alcohol can dehydrate your skin, make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day.
  • Get plenty of rest. Remember, alcohol can interfere with your sleep. Prioritize a good night's sleep to help your skin stay healthy.

Your Journey Towards Better Skin Health

In this journey of understanding your skin and the role alcohol might play in its health, remember that every person's experience with eczema is unique. What works for one might not work for another. However, you're making a step towards better skin health by being curious, and that’s a great start!

Soothe Your Skin and Start Your Healing Journey With Reframe!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

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Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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