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Eczema and Alcohol: What You Should Know

Medically Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on March 29, 2021

While the link between food and eczema is still unclear, many people find that some foods and drinks -- including alcohol -- can make their symptoms worse.

So how do you know if alcohol may affect your body and skin? Here’s what to consider before sipping your next drink.

Eczema and Allergies

Many people with eczema also have food allergies. When you have these allergies, it causes a strong immune system reaction to certain foods and drinks such as peanuts, dairy, gluten, or alcohol. Eating these foods can lead to life-threatening illnesses.

You can also have sensitivities or intolerance to some foods. These aren’t allergies. Instead, your body has trouble digesting certain foods and drinks, and you may notice you don’t feel well after eating or drinking them. For example, your nose may get stuffy, you may have headaches, or you may break out in hives after drinking beer or wine. This may mean you have an alcohol intolerance.

If you have eczema and are allergic to or have intolerance to alcohol, having a drink may make your symptoms worse.

How Alcohol Can Affect Eczema

Researchers have found a link between alcohol and other skin conditions like rosacea. Studies also show drinking can make skin conditions like eczema worse. Despite this data, there’s no evidence that drinking can cause eczema or a flare-up.

But many people living with eczema say that certain foods and ingredients -- including alcohol -- make their eczema symptoms worse.

Studies have also found that people with eczema deal with alcohol use disorders more often than people without eczema.

Whether you have a skin condition or not, alcohol can cause inflammation throughout your body. It can also lead to dehydration and facial flushing, which could make your skin feel worse.

Consider the Following When Deciding to Drink:

Monitor flare-ups

Certain fabrics and extreme high and low temperatures can bother people with eczema, but other things can trigger your symptoms, too. The best way to figure out what affects your skin is to keep track of skin changes and how you feel.

Take note when you drink alcohol, what you drink, how much, and if you notice any sort of reaction. Tell your doctor about any patterns you see.

Pay attention to other ingredients found in beer, cocktails, wine, and even “mocktails” (nonalcoholic drinks), too. They might also cause reactions.

Drink in moderation

If you do drink alcohol, be sure to go easy with it. Limit how often you drink and the number of drinks you have.

Talk to your doctor about an allergy test

If you think you may be allergic to alcohol or other ingredients found in a drink, ask your doctor about having an allergy test. A test can tell you what is safe for you to eat and drink, and what ingredients you should avoid.

Be careful mixing alcohol and meds

Even if alcohol doesn’t cause problems with your eczema, it may interact with eczema medications or other medications. Ask your doctor if it’s safe to combine your meds with alcohol.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Cleveland Clinic: “Hangover,” “Facial Flushing: Should You Be Worried If Your Face Turns Red When You Drink?”

National Eczema Association: “Everything you need to know about eczema and food allergies,” “Eczema and Emotional Wellness,” “Watch out for these holiday hazards.”

British Journal of Dermatology: “High prevalence of alcohol use disorders in patients with inflammatory skin diseases.”

Indian Journal of Dermatology: “Food Allergy in Atopic Dermatitis.”

Mayo Clinic: “Alcohol Intolerance,” “Eczema.”

Advanced Asthma & Allergy: “Common Eczema Triggers.”

Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: “Alcohol intake and risk of rosacea in US women.”

PubMed, Department of Dermatology, King's College Hospital, London, U.K.: “Alcohol and the skin.”

The Dermatology Center of Indiana: “5 Foods that Make Eczema and Psoriasis Worse.”

Skin Therapy Letter: “Alcohol and Skin Disorders: With a Focus on Psoriasis.”

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