Does Alcohol Really Cause Acne?

Unveiling the truth: Does alcohol really cause acne? Explore the link between alcohol consumption and skin issues.

By Alis Behavioral Health Staff

April 9, 2024

Alcohol and Skin Health

When it comes to the health of our skin, the impact of alcohol consumption cannot be overlooked. Alcohol can have negative effects on the skin, including dehydration and inflammation, which can contribute to various skin issues.

Effects of Alcohol on Skin Dehydration

Drinking alcohol can lead to visible dehydration in the skin as it saps fluid from the body. This can result in dryness, flakiness, and a dull complexion. The damage from dehydration can also contribute to the formation of wrinkles, which can cause premature aging of the skin. To combat the effects of alcohol-induced dehydration, it is essential to maintain a well-hydrated body by drinking plenty of water and using moisturizers to keep the skin hydrated.

Inflammation and Skin Redness

Another significant impact of alcohol on the skin is inflammation, which can manifest as facial redness. Alcohol consumption can lead to the dilation of blood vessels, resulting in a flushed appearance. Over time, continued alcohol intake can contribute to a persistent facial redness that is challenging to reverse [1]. To alleviate inflammation and redness, individuals may consider reducing alcohol consumption or opting for non-alcoholic alternatives.

Understanding the effects of alcohol on skin health is crucial for maintaining a healthy complexion. It's important to note that different types of alcohol can have varying effects on the skin. Clear alcohols like vodka, gin, and tequila typically get cleared from the body more quickly than others. For minimal skin damage, opting for clear alcohols like potato vodka is recommended [1].

To prevent or minimize the damage to the skin caused by alcohol, it is advisable to:

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, as excessive consumption can exacerbate the negative effects on the skin.
  • Stay hydrated by consuming water along with alcoholic beverages to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol.
  • Allow ample time between drinking sessions to give the body time to process the alcohol and recover.
  • Incorporate a skincare routine that includes moisturizing, using products suitable for your skin type, and protecting the skin from harmful UV rays.

By being mindful of alcohol consumption and implementing healthy skincare practices, individuals can help mitigate the potential negative effects on their skin. It is always beneficial to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice and recommendations based on individual skin concerns.

Alcohol and Skin Regeneration

When it comes to the impact of alcohol on the skin, understanding its effects on skin regeneration is crucial. Alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on the regeneration process, particularly in relation to collagen production and skin damage.

Impact on Collagen

Collagen is a protein that plays a vital role in maintaining the elasticity and firmness of the skin. However, long-term alcohol consumption can contribute to the destruction of collagen, making it challenging for the skin to repair itself properly. The extent of collagen damage depends on the level of alcohol consumption and the duration of exposure.

Collagen is responsible for maintaining the structure and strength of the skin. When it is compromised, the skin may become more prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging. The damage to collagen caused by alcohol consumption can contribute to premature aging of the skin.

Types of Alcohol and Skin Damage

Different types of alcohol can have varying effects on the skin. Clear alcohols, such as vodka, gin, and tequila, are typically cleared from the body more quickly compared to other types of alcohol. Opting for clear alcohols like potato vodka may result in minimal skin damage [1].

However, it's important to note that regardless of the type of alcohol consumed, excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption can still have detrimental effects on the skin. The key is moderation and being mindful of the overall impact of alcohol on skin health.

Understanding the effects of alcohol on skin regeneration provides insight into the potential damage that can occur. It is essential to prioritize overall skin health by adopting a balanced approach to alcohol consumption and considering the long-term impact it may have on the skin.

Acne and Alcohol Consumption

The relationship between alcohol consumption and acne has been a topic of interest and debate. While the exact mechanisms are still being studied, several factors suggest a potential connection between alcohol consumption and the development or exacerbation of acne. In this section, we will explore three key factors: the immune system, oxidative stress, and hormone levels.

Immune System and Acne

Alcohol consumption can have a negative impact on the immune system, potentially making the body more susceptible to infections, including those caused by Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) bacteria known to contribute to acne development. Alcohol can decrease the number of protective cells in the body, compromising the immune response and potentially leading to the formation of acne cysts and pustules.

Oxidative Stress and Acne Development

Alcohol consumption can contribute to oxidative stress in the body. When alcohol is processed as sugar, it can increase inflammation, potentially leading to increased acne development. Additionally, certain types of alcoholic beverages, particularly those containing sugary juices and syrups, can further contribute to inflammation, potentially aggravating acne symptoms.

Hormone Levels and Sebum Production

Alcohol consumption can impact hormone levels in the body, which may play a role in the development or exacerbation of acne. Increased alcohol consumption has been associated with elevated testosterone levels in both men and women, as well as elevated estradiol levels in women. These hormonal changes can stimulate oil gland production, leading to increased sebum or oil production. When excess sebum combines with dead skin cells and bacteria, it can clog pores and contribute to the formation of acne lesions.

While the relationship between alcohol consumption and acne is complex and varies among individuals, research suggests that alcohol consumption can be a risk factor for acne development. Individuals who consume alcohol appear to have a higher risk of developing acne compared to abstainers. However, the effects of alcohol consumption on acne, particularly in adolescents, have yielded inconsistent results in the literature. Further research is needed to fully understand the role of alcohol consumption in adult acne and to establish clearer guidelines on the effects of alcohol on skin health.

Understanding the potential impact of alcohol consumption on acne can help individuals make informed decisions about their skincare routine and overall lifestyle choices. It is important to note that moderation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including proper hydration and skincare practices, are essential for promoting skin health and minimizing the risk of acne development. If you have concerns about the impact of alcohol on your skin, consulting with a dermatologist can provide personalized guidance and recommendations.

Preventing Alcohol-Related Skin Issues

When it comes to alcohol consumption and its potential effects on the skin, prevention is key. By adopting certain measures, you can minimize the impact of alcohol on your skin health. Here are some strategies to consider:

Moderation and Hydration

One of the most important steps in preventing alcohol-related skin issues is to consume alcohol in moderation. Excessive alcohol intake can lead to visible dehydration in the skin, as it saps fluid from the body. This can result in wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.

To counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol, it's vital to stay properly hydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water along with alcoholic beverages. This helps replenish the lost fluids and maintain the skin's moisture balance. Additionally, spacing out your drinking sessions allows the body time to process the alcohol and recover.

Clearing Acne Caused by Alcohol

Alcohol consumption can indirectly contribute to acne development. It can affect the way oxygen and nutrients travel through the skin, leading to oxidative stress, which can worsen acne [2]. Mixed drinks containing sugar can also contribute to inflammation, exacerbating acne conditions.

To clear acne caused by alcohol, consider adopting a low Glycemic Index (GI) diet. Research suggests that following a low GI diet for 10 weeks can improve acne symptoms. This involves consuming foods that have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

Additionally, maintaining a consistent skincare routine that includes gentle cleansing, exfoliation, and the use of non-comedogenic (non-pore-clogging) moisturizers can help keep your skin clear and healthy.

Impact of Alcohol on the Immune System

Alcohol can have adverse effects on the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections, including acne-causing bacteria like Propionibacterium acnes. To minimize the impact of alcohol on your immune system, it's important to consume alcohol in moderation.

Furthermore, adopting a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and exercising regularly can help boost your immune system and promote overall skin health.

By practicing moderation, staying hydrated, following a low GI diet, and taking care of your immune system, you can help prevent alcohol-related skin issues. It's also advisable to consult with a dermatologist for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific skin concerns. Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being mindful of your alcohol consumption can make a positive difference in your skin's appearance and overall well-being.

Alcohol, Acne, and Medication

When it comes to acne treatment, it's important to consider the potential effects of alcohol consumption, especially if you are undergoing specific acne medications such as Accutane. Here, we will explore the relationship between alcohol, acne, and medication, focusing on Accutane treatment, liver damage risks, and the importance of consulting with a dermatologist.

Accutane Treatment and Alcohol

Accutane, or its generic equivalent Isotretinoin, is a powerful medication used to treat acne as well as certain other skin diseases. It is known to produce remarkable results in treating stubborn breakouts and persistent acne [4]. However, it is crucial to avoid alcohol consumption while on Accutane.

Combining Accutane with alcohol can have adverse effects on the liver and lead to significant alterations in blood lipid levels. The medication itself can potentially damage the liver, and when combined with alcohol, this risk is increased. The combination of alcohol and Accutane can also cause major alterations in blood lipids, including elevations in blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

To ensure the effectiveness of Accutane treatment and minimize potential risks, it is strongly advised to abstain from alcohol consumption entirely while undergoing the medication. Alcohol can interfere with the liver's ability to metabolize Accutane, potentially reducing its efficacy. Moreover, alcohol may exacerbate the side effects of Accutane, such as dryness of the skin, lips, and eyes.

Liver Damage Risks

The liver plays a crucial role in metabolizing substances, including medications and alcohol. Combining alcohol with certain acne medications, including Accutane, can put additional strain on the liver and increase the risk of liver damage.

Patients undergoing Accutane treatment are advised to have regular check-ups and blood work to monitor any adverse effects on the liver and blood lipid levels due to the medication. Monitoring is crucial to ensure the patient's well-being during the course of treatment. It is essential to prioritize the health of your liver and follow the recommended guidelines to minimize potential risks.

Consultation with Dermatologist

Before consuming alcohol while on Accutane or any other acne medication, it is strongly recommended to consult with your dermatologist. Each individual's health condition, medical history, liver health, and potential interactions with other medications must be taken into account.

Your dermatologist will provide personalized advice based on your specific situation. They will be able to guide you on whether alcohol consumption is safe during your acne treatment, helping you make an informed decision that prioritizes your skin health.

Remember, the primary goal of acne medication is to improve your skin condition and overall well-being. By following the guidance of your dermatologist and avoiding alcohol consumption while on Accutane, you can optimize the effectiveness of your treatment and minimize potential risks to your liver and overall health.

Alcohol and Skin Conditions

Alcohol consumption can have various effects on the skin, and in some cases, it may contribute to the development or exacerbation of certain skin conditions. Understanding the relationship between alcohol and these conditions is important for maintaining healthy skin.

Alcoholism and Dermatoses

Alcohol abuse has been associated with the development or worsening of several cutaneous disorders. Conditions such as pellagra, nummular eczema, purpura pigmentosa chronica, and psoriasis may occur simultaneously with alcoholism and could potentially be influenced by it.

Liver Damage and Cutaneous Signs

Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, which can manifest in various cutaneous signs. These signs include jaundice, facial flushing, spider telangiectasia, "paper money" skin, palmar erythema, and nail changes. It's important to note that these cutaneous signs can occur in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic individuals and may indicate underlying liver damage.

Hormonal Imbalances and Acne

Drinking alcohol can disrupt the balance of hormones in the body, which can have implications for the skin. Hormonal imbalances caused by alcohol consumption, such as increased levels of testosterone and estrogen, can contribute to an increase in sebum production. Excessive sebum production can clog the pores and contribute to the development of acne. Additionally, alcohol's impact on hormone levels can further exacerbate acne symptoms.


While alcohol consumption alone may not directly cause acne, it can contribute to the development or aggravation of various skin conditions. Alcoholism has been linked to dermatoses, including seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, and acne vulgaris. Liver damage resulting from excessive alcohol consumption can manifest in cutaneous signs such as jaundice, facial flushing, and nail changes. Hormonal imbalances caused by alcohol can further exacerbate acne symptoms by increasing sebum production. It's important to be mindful of the potential impact that alcohol can have on the skin and seek professional advice if experiencing any concerning skin conditions related to alcohol consumption.


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