Why Do You Get Rash After Drinking Alcohol?

Some people notice that their skin starts to turn red when they are drinking alcohol. This can be embarrassing, particularly if you happen to be out in public when this occurs. As you drink alcohol it can cause the capillaries in your face to dilate, increasing the blood flow to these areas. In some cases this reaction is quite mild and hardly noticeable but in some cases an alcohol rash can be quite severe, leading to itch, even lesions on your skin or severe inflammation.


Causes of Alcohol Rash

1. Alcohol Flush

Symptom Description:

Alcohol flush can cause the skin to turn red and occasionally itchy or uncomfortable. This is caused when your body does not have an enzyme which is necessary to break down alcohol so it can be moved through the body. In this case acetaldehyde, a derivative from the alcohol will cause the body to flush, causing what is known as an alcohol rash. When the rash appears it can cause patches to appear on the skin, often on the face, chest, back or neck. These areas may also feel warm or itchy as this occurs.

The severity of this rash and how often it appears tends to vary from person to person. This rash has earned the nickname “Asian flush” because many of Asian descent tend to have a particularly severe occurrence of this rash. In some cases, this rash will become more severe with the long-term intake of alcohol. This is because consuming large quantities of alcohol for long periods of time can cause damage to the vessels throughout the body, which may cause the appearance of an alcohol rash to spread.

Treatment and Prevention:

Some that experience alcohol rash opt to undergo laser surgery to remove the signs of this rash from their skin. You can also avoid getting this rash by avoiding alcohol. You may find that certain alcoholic beverages make it more likely that this rash will occur, so you can avoid these to reduce your symptoms. You should also note which beverages tend to cause swelling, itching or other more serious reactions so you can avoid any potential dangers associated with this condition.

2. Alcohol Intolerance

Symptom Description:

An allergic reaction to alcohol can occur if you are allergic to specific types of alcohol or ingredients used to make mixed drinks. In addition to a rash, those that have a severe reaction to alcohol may note

  • Throat tightening
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hives
  • Swelling around the eyes or mouth
  • Low blood pressure

If these side effects become severe the individual may collapse. In a very severe case a person may enter into anaphylaxis, which should be addressed with emergency medical care immediately.

Those that suffer from alcohol intolerance will develop a facial flush or nasal congestion that is similar to a standard allergic reaction. This reaction is most common in those of Asian descent because these individuals are often born without the necessary enzymes to break down the toxins in alcohol properly. Alcohol intolerance is often considered to be genetic as well, particularly if someone is developing histamines from ingredients that are used in the brewing process. These individuals can develop nausea, pounding heartbeat or vomiting in addition to standard symptoms of these conditions.

Treatment and Prevention:

Those that are suffering from an allergic reaction to an alcoholic beverage may in fact be suffering from an allergy to one of the ingredients of the beverage. Those with an allergy to barley, hops, grapes, rye or certain preservatives can experience negative symptoms when they consume alcoholic beverages that contain these items. Many mixes such as juices or tonic water that are includes in alcoholic drinks can also cause an allergic reaction. Narrowing down what is causing this reaction can help you avoid beverages that can cause you discomfort or dangerous symptoms.

Anyone who experiences negative symptoms when consuming alcoholic beverages should avoid these beverages to prevent further damage.

  • If it is determined that you are only allergic to a certain type of alcohol you may only need to avoid this particular beverage.
  • Those that are suffering from intolerance will need to take care to avoid even the smallest amount of alcohol as this can trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Taking antihistamines can help to manage an allergic reaction, but take care as many of these medications are not designed to be consumed with alcohol.
  • Your doctor may also prescribe you an adrenaline auto injector if your symptoms tend to be very severe.
  • You should not consider these medications as a backup plan if you plan to drink alcohol, but continue to avoid substances you are allergic to as increased exposure to these allergens can worsen your reaction.