Drinking too much alcohol too often has negative effects on the body, something anyone with nasty hangover experience can validate.
Most people are aware that prolonged use of alcohol negatively impacts the liver, kidneys and heart. However, a fact not as well known is that alcohol consumption also negatively affects the body’s largest organ—the skin—in three distinct ways.
Alcohol and Its Effects on Skin
First, alcohol is a hepatotoxin, says Dr. David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group, meaning it attacks the cells in the liver that detoxify the body.
“One way to look at it,” Dr. Colbert said, “is to ask what does someone look like who is dying of liver failure? They’re sallow, they’re pasty, they’re cold, their pores are huge.”
Second, alcohol contains congeners—chemicals that add to the fermentation process and give alcohol its taste and odor. The more congeners in alcohol, the worse the hangover and the worse the skin looks the next day.
Third, alcohol dehydrates the skin and robs it of nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants. For example, alcohol denies the skin of Vitamin A, which produces collagen and regenerates skin cells. Vitamin C levels also decrease with alcohol consumption, so that bruises on the skin take longer to heal.
Without proper hydration, the skin—especially the face—will appear dull and drawn.
Drinking alcohol excessively also causes blood vessels to dilate; repeated over-consumption bursts the blood vessels, causing spidery veins to appear. Plus, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that if a person is predisposed to skin conditions like rosacea or psoriasis, alcohol consumption can exacerbate those conditions.
And, because alcohol lowers inhibitions, the likelihood of spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen increases the risk of melanoma.
The Simple Solution
Most of us react to problems – like skin conditions – after a flare-up or a diagnosis. We also do our best to mask potential problems, part of the reason for a $55 billion annual cosmetic industry. By the way, studies show that on average, a person uses seven (another study reported nine) skincare products each day.
Prevention is key. So, for example, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption are relatively easy ways to prevent pesky skin problems and create a first line of defense against internal organ damage.
Additional Reading: Tooth and Consequences: Alcohol Can Wreck Your Smile
Image Credits: Google Images/artemedica