We break down the research on drinking and skin disease

Do you like a good relaxing drink, particularly after a stressful time at work or a hectic day running around after the kids? There’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But next time you pour yourself a glass of vino, you might want to make it a smaller one... 

People who drink alcohol are more at risk for psoriasis 

This one is hard to believe, but research shows it could be true. Not only can drinking aggravate psoriasis symptoms, it can greatly increase your risk of developing the condition in the first place.1 It’s a particular concern for men, for whom a study found regular alcohol consumption was associated with a greater risk of developing psoriasis, as well as an increase in severity of flare-ups.2 

Drinking alcohol dries the skin… 

Alcohol is a diuretic (the real reason you pee more after a big night out), which means it can dehydrate the body and dry out your skin.3 There’s also evidence that it alters the blood supply to your skin, causing the blood vessels to dilate, allowing more blood to flow to the surface of the skin. 

…and causes inflammation 

Another big concern is that alcohol can profoundly affect the immune system4 and cause inflammation throughout the body, impairing gut and liver functions5 As if that’s not enough, alcohol consumption can lead to raised levels of a growth factor receptor that speeds up skin cell production – which is the reason you might notice your skin is flakier after a night on the town.6 

Well, you’re no fun at Ask Alia! 

If you’re saying this in your head, we don’t blame you! But we promise, we’re usually the life of the party. And we fully admit, while reducing your alcohol intake could certainly help with your skin, the odd drink now and then is probably fine. 

You know who would know better than us? Your doctor! So if you have questions about your alcohol intake, take a moment to ask them about it. And if they say it’s ok, then we say “cheers.”


1National Psoriasis Foundation, ‘How cigarettes and alcohol affect psoriasis’. Last accessed 19 July 2019. https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/how-cigarettes-and-alcohol-affect-psoriasis

2Alcohol intake: a risk factor for psoriasis in young and middle aged men? Poikolainen K, Reunala T, Karvonen J, Lauharanta J, Kärkkäinen P. BMJ. 1990 Mar 24;300(6727):780-3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=1969757  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1662565/pdf/bmj00171-0026.pdf

3Huffington Post citing Dr. Debra Jaliman in “Here's How Alcohol Wrecks Your Skin... And How To Choose The Least Damaging Drink” Last accessed: 19 July 2019. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/alcohol-skin_n_4146391.html

4Cutaneous disease and alcohol misuse. Higgins EM, du Vivier AW. Br Med Bull. 1994 Jan;50(1):85-98. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=7908595

5Alcohol, inflammation, and gut-liver-brain interactions in tissue damage and disease development. Wang HJ, Zakhari S, Jung MK. World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Mar 21;16(11):1304-13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=20238396http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842521/

6Ethanol and acetone stimulate the proliferation of HaCaT keratinocytes: the possible role of alcohol in exacerbating psoriasis. Farkas A, Kemény L, Széll M, Dobozy A, Bata-Csörgo Z. Arch Dermatol Res. 2003 Jun;295(2):56-62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=12720008

Curated Tags

Join the conversation

We'd love to continue the conversation with you! Join the 'Ask Alia' community on Facebook.