Can Alcohol Consumption Cause Acne?

You’ve probably already heard the popular saying “a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away!” countless times, and it’s not hard to see why. Alcohol consumption is a routine habit in many countries around the world, so much so that it’s become embedded into daily life. 

Although alcohol is in many aspects associated with a fun and enjoyable life, it is still a psychoactive substance that has potential for abuse and dependence; excessive alcohol consumption can cause damage to oneself and/or to others. 

In fact, it is well known that those who experience mental health disorders (or struggle with mental health in general) are more prone to develop substance use disorders than others.

Can Alcohol Consumption Cause Acne

Alcohol can become a tempting, but still harmful, coping mechanism that individuals rely on to remove themselves from the stress and pain of the real world. Those who experience gender dysphoria, for instance, or anxiety, depression, etc., may seek these sorts of results simply because alcohol makes them feel better, at least temporarily.

Apart from damaging an individual’s mental health, excessive alcohol consumption can also impact the body physically and externally, including the skin. Because of the bodily processes alcohol kickstarts, it’s fairly common for alcohol to contribute to skin problems, including acne.

Alcohol Consumption and its Effects on the Brain

When drinking alcohol in excess, common side-effects include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Being more talkative
  • Trouble balancing
  • Feeling overly confident or more willing to engage in risky behaviors (unprotected sex, driving under the influence, etc.)
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred or spinning vision
  • Memory loss

Alcohol is capable of crossing the barrier that protects the brain and directly affects the neurons. Because of this, behavioral changes are largely unavoidable, but their severity depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. 

After consuming a few drinks, most people feel more sociable, talkative and open to others.

The effects on the brain and one’s behavior become more worrisome the more you drink. After a while, more severe consequences, like serious memory loss, vomiting, and even unconsciousness can occur.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Skin 

As mentioned, alcohol consumption not only affects the brain, but the whole body.

There is not yet a scientific link between alcohol and acne, but it is known that alcohol can cause changes that might lead to acne, even if the alcohol itself is not the direct cause. 


One common effect of alcohol is dehydration, which can lead to breakouts, especially in those who are already prone to dry skin. 

This happens because the sebaceous glands of our skin might respond to dehydration by producing oil in excess. This oil can build up and irritate our pores, cause inflammation, and cause blemishes.

Lowered Immune Response

Alcohol can weaken the body’s immune system, making us more susceptible to having infections or developing other illnesses.

Some types of acne can also be caused by a bacterial infection, and having a low immune response to it may indeed lead to breaking out. Even if this effect doesn’t cause a breakout, it can certainly make existing ones more bothersome. 


If you already have a tendency to develop acne, you should be aware of things that can cause inflammation and worsen your breakouts. 

Alcohol is one of them, especially if you are taking it with lots of sugar.

Hormonal Effects

A known cause of acne in general is hormones, whether it be during puberty, menopause, or just during a normal hormonal fluctuation throughout the month.

Anything that affects hormone levels might lead to acne. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that alcohol affects the production of some hormones in women, such as estradiol, which can impact the body in numerous ways.

Other Consequences

Apart from the effects mentioned above, excessive alcohol consumption can impact our overall health, especially if it’s been going on for a long time.

One example is alcohol-induced liver disease  the organ in our body responsible for filtering toxins out. 

After long-term excessive drinking, the liver, which is responsible for filtering toxins out of the body, cannot function properly. These sorts of consequences are often the result of severe substance use, but they should always be taken seriously.

So, can alcohol consumption cause acne?

The answer is a bit complicated: yes, but not in the way you might think it does. 

There is not enough evidence to show that alcohol directly impacts the skin in a way that inevitably causes an individual to develop acne. 

However, alcohol does affect many other parts of our body, including our brain, which can lead to having acne breakouts more easily.

If you experience constant acne breakouts and drinking is something you do on a regular basis, you may want to consider reducing your intake for the sake of your skin’s health.

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