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Alcohol and Health

Do Alcohol Flush Patches Work?

May 6, 2024
19 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.
May 6, 2024
19 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.
May 6, 2024
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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.
May 6, 2024
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Reframe Content Team
May 6, 2024
19 min read

Exploring the Efficacy of Alcohol Flush Patches

  • Alcohol flush patches reportedly alleviate the unwanted symptoms of alcohol intolerance, but they don’t always live up to the claims.

  • While they may help reduce some short-term symptoms of alcohol flush, patches may cover up more serious issues.

  • Don’t be fooled by products that claim to cure hangovers; stay informed about alcohol with Reframe’s science-backed program for quitting or cutting back on alcohol!

Pain relief patches help reduce aches, and nicotine patches can help us quit smoking. But what about alcohol flush patches? While they claim to be the latest and greatest solution for alcohol intolerance, we’ve learned to take a second look at viral products on TikTok Shop.  

Let’s examine the science behind the patch and determine if we want to add it to our carts or not. 

Understanding Alcohol Flush Reactions

Alcohol flush reactions are a result of intolerance to alcohol. Different from an alcohol allergy, alcohol intolerance is a genetic mutation. This deficiency in the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ALDH) makes it difficult for our body to metabolize alcohol efficiently. This allows the toxin in alcohol, acetaldehyde (ACH), to linger in our body, causing the symptoms we know as alcohol flush.

Marked by common symptoms and known for its prevalence in those of us of Asian descent, alcohol flush is also known as “Asian glow” or “Asian flush.” The hallmark symptom of alcohol flush is a red face, but it is often accompanied by others: 

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  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea 

Due to the severe unpleasantness of alcohol flush reactions, we continue to look for solutions to help get rid of it. We may have heard of Pepcid or curated alcohol flush pills, but one of the newer proposed remedies is an alcohol flush patch.

What Are Alcohol Flush Patches?

Alcohol flush patches are small transdermal patches that claim to alleviate the symptoms of alcohol flush reactions. They go by many other labels and nicknames:

  • Asian glow patch
  • Asian flush patch
  • Anti-flush patch
  • Drinking patch
  • Alcohol patch 

The patches vary in size, color, and ingredients, but they all aim to reduce the unpleasant symptoms of drinking. 

How Do Alcohol Flush Patches Work?

Each alcohol flush patch contains a specific combination of supplements. When placed on our skin, the supplements get absorbed into our bloodstream through our skin. Unlike pills, patches allow the medications to bypass the digestive system, get absorbed more slowly through our skin, and last longer. Due to their slow release, alcohol flush patches are meant to be placed on the body before drinking. 

Alcohol flush patches typically contain a combination of ingredients that aim to reduce experiences of alcohol flush reactions:

  • Glutathione. This antioxidant is one of the main components of alcohol flush patches and differentiates this solution from others such as Pepcid, which may only mask some symptoms of flushing. Glutathione’s antioxidant properties are meant to neutralize the toxic substances in alcohol that produce flushing symptoms. 
  • N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC). NAC is an antioxidant that plays a role in glutathione production. It’s also shown to have anti-inflammatory properties that are theorized to help reduce the risk of hangovers.
  • Green tea extract. This supplement is also used for its antioxidant properties. While not FDA-approved, green tea extract is commonly used to help decrease inflammation and reduce blood pressure.
  • Vitamins. Vitamins such as vitamins B and C are common additives in alcohol patches. Much the way supplements are used regularly to support optimal body function, vitamins are added to the support function of our cells and organs, aiding in the efficient metabolization of alcohol.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). ALA is an antioxidant used in the absorption and production of energy in our body. ALA is meant to help break down acetaldehyde. 
  • Milk thistle. Milk thistle is an herbal supplement that has been used for centuries for a wide variety of liver ailments. More recently, the supplement has been used for a multitude of other conditions and is being tested for its mechanisms in preventing alcohol hangovers.

When we wear the patch while drinking, its curated combination of vitamins and antioxidants is drawn in through the pores in our skin — aiding our body’s absorption and metabolization of alcohol. 

Types of Alcohol Patches

Alcohol patch ingredients vary based on different drinking experiences and alcohol flush reactions. 

Alcohol Patches for Hangovers

Alcohol patches for hangovers aim to prevent an unpleasant aftermath or reduce the severity of hangover symptoms. Several brands offer alcohol patches for hangovers:

  • Bytox Hangover Patch 
  • Party Patch
  • The Good Patch 
  • The Patch Remedy

While hangover patches are aimed at reducing more general symptoms of drinking, alcohol flush patches target more specific experiences of alcohol intolerance.

Alcohol Patches for ‘”Asian Flush”

Alcohol flush patches are meant to reduce common symptoms of alcohol intolerance by helping our body process alcohol. They target specific flush symptoms such as redness, inflammation, and GI distress. 

While commonly dubbed Asian glow patches or Asian flush patches, alcohol flush patches can be for anyone who experiences symptoms of alcohol intolerance. The patches usually contain a combination of ingredients that focus on alcohol flush as well as more generic supplements that may help combat hangovers. While varying slightly in composition, several products claim to be a solution for alcohol flush:

  • iBlush Patch 
  • Redee Patch
  • Glowless Patch

No matter what they’re called or what’s in them, the question remains: Do they work? 

Are Alcohol Flush Patches Effective?

There’s little research on whether or not alcohol flush patches are effective. By looking at their different components and mechanisms, however, we can better evaluate how they’ll work against symptoms of alcohol flush.

Effectiveness Against Alcohol Flush

When we drink alcohol, our GI system and enzymes in our blood begin to break down ethanol into acetaldehyde immediately. This process triggers the release of histamine, prompting flushing symptoms to develop rapidly. 

In the meantime, the glutathione in the patch slowly passes through our thick dermal layer to raise levels enough to help metabolize ACH, but it’s effects are negligible.

NAC could help, but it needs to be absorbed into our body, transported to our liver, and converted into cysteine, which is then used by our liver to produce glutathione. 

So, while glutathione and NAC can help with the breakdown of ACH, the effects are minimal. It can be compared to being handed a raincoat in a typhoon — not completely unhelpful but not nearly enough to prevent serious consequences.

Effectiveness Against Hangovers

While not necessarily effective in preventing alcohol flush, glutathione and NAC have been studied for their mechanisms in preventing and reducing hangover symptoms. An in vivo study concluded that a mix of glutathione and cysteine alleviated hangover symptoms and reduced oxidative stress. Similarly, research focusing on alcohol metabolism found that accelerating the metabolism of ACH may help reduce the severity of hangovers. However, it’s important to note that not enough human studies have been conducted to conclude that glutathione and NAC specifically aid in hangovers.

Other components of alcohol flush patches include vitamins, antioxidants, and supplements. Scientific literature shows that dietary nutrients such as vitamins and minerals can aid in metabolization of alcohol. Similarly, a pilot study on milk thistle found promising results in reducing hangover symptoms. However, further research is needed to determine the effectiveness of other vitamins and supplements. 

After evaluating the mechanisms of alcohol flush patches, we can see that they have minimal effects on preventing alcohol flush and hangovers. Yet, they’re still popular products, which begs the question: Are they safe?

Are Alcohol Flush Patches Safe?

Like most supplements, alcohol flush patches are not regulated by the FDA. Currently, no serious adverse effects have been reported. However, there’s little research done testing their safety. The components that make up the product are generally safe to use — suggesting that the patches are also safe. As with any supplement, some side effects may occur: 

  • Skin irritation
  • Allergy 
  • GI distress
  • Dry mouth 
  • Headache

So, while they aren’t overly helpful, in most cases the patches aren’t harmful. 

Pros and Cons of Alcohol Flush Patches 

We’ve established that alcohol flush patches are neither particularly helpful nor harmful, so why do people still use them? Let’s go over some of the pros and cons before we make our final decision.


While they may not be the ultimate cure for hangovers, they do have some benefits: 

  • Increased mindfulness. Alcohol flush patches have to be placed on our skin before drinking, oftentimes on our wrist. While the patches may not reduce symptoms of alcohol flush internally, they can serve as an external reminder to exercise moderation when drinking. 
  • Liver protection. Glutathione is shown to reduce oxidative stress, which contributes to liver damage and disease. Patches that include glutathione supplements may help reduce liver damage from alcohol.
  • Replenished glutathione levels. Drinking depletes our natural glutathione levels. The supplements in alcohol flush patches can help replenish glutathione, which aids in tissue repair and proper immune system function.

The benefits of alcohol flush patches may explain why some people continue to use them despite their minimal effects on alcohol flush and hangovers. 


  • Delivery method. The transdermal delivery is less invasive but also less speedy. While the effects can last longer, alcohol flush reactions can happen before the patch kicks in.
  • Skin irritation. The adhesive on the patches, as well as the potency of the active ingredients, can irritate our skin, especially if we have sensitive skin. 
  • Placement. Alcohol flush patches have to be applied before drinking. If we forget to apply one, they’re useless. If we remember to apply one, it can be uncomfortable to keep on for long periods.

Like most products, alcohol flush patches have pros and cons — leaving us to evaluate them for ourselves. 

Tips To Avoid an Alcohol Flush Reaction

Alternatives for Alcohol Flush Reactions

An alcohol flush reaction is an uncomfortable response to alcohol intolerance, but it serves as a warning sign of the dangers of alcohol. Alcohol flush products may help reduce some unwanted symptoms, but it remains true that the toxins in alcohol are just as damaging to our body. Some alternatives to help reduce or avoid alcohol flush include the following mindful drinking practices: 

  • Quit/cut back on alcohol. Quitting or cutting back on alcohol is the most effective solution to preventing alcohol flush reactions. Since it’s a symptom of alcohol intolerance, by removing or minimizing the substance, we can avoid the unpleasant experience.
  • Pace drinking. Slowing down our drinking allows our body more time to process alcohol. While it won’t stop symptoms of alcohol flush, it can reduce our overall alcohol consumption — limiting the damage that alcohol can cause. 
  • Prioritize hydration. Staying hydrated can help our cells and organs work optimally to process the toxins in alcohol. Drinking water won’t magically prevent alcohol flush, but it can reduce dehydration that may contribute to exacerbated hangover symptoms.
  • Focus on nutrition. Looking at most of the components in alcohol flush patches, most of them are antioxidants that are meant to reduce the toxicity of alcohol. Antioxidants can also be found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • Use medication. Like alcohol flush patches, medications aren’t a sustainable solution for alcohol flush. However, some medications can help reduce exacerbated hangover symptoms if we’re looking for short-term aid. 

Mindful drinking practices not only help with the prevention of alcohol flush reactions but also with the development of a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Patching It All Together

In theory, alcohol flush patches sound like the answer to our alcohol flush woes. However, a more thorough review of alcohol flush patches uncovers their minimal effectiveness against alcohol flush reactions and hangovers. While not harmful, the patches aren’t significantly beneficial either. It may not hurt to try them, but other alternatives such as quitting or cutting back on alcohol are a better solution for alcohol flush. A patch is no match for alcohol flush!

Summary FAQs

1. Do alcohol flush patches reduce redness?

Some alcohol flush patches may help to reduce redness, but additional research is needed to prove this claim.

2. Do alcohol flush patches prevent hangovers?

Some components of alcohol flush patches are thought to reduce the risk of hangovers. However, the patches have not yet been studied thoroughly.

3. Are alcohol flush patches better than Pepcid?

Alcohol flush patches are less invasive than Pepcid but may not be as effective in reducing or masking symptoms. Neither method is a sustainable solution for alcohol intolerance. 

4. Are there consequences to using alcohol flush patches?

Yes. Alcohol flush patches may cause minor side effects and reduce some symptoms of alcohol flush, tricking us into believing that it’s okay to drink more.

5. Is an Asian glow patch the same as an Asian flush patch?

Yes. They are both used to reduce symptoms of alcohol flush. However, Asian glow patches may help reduce redness specifically.

6. What are other ways I can prevent alcohol flush?

The most effective method for preventing alcohol flush is quitting or cutting back on alcohol. Short-term solutions such as alcohol flush patches can alleviate some symptoms. However, those of us with alcohol intolerance will continue to experience the same difficulties with metabolizing alcohol. 

Drink Less and Thrive 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!

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