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Is there a link between alcohol and rosacea?

The short answer: Yes! Here’s what you need to know about rosacea triggers.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 31, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

A flushed face, persistent redness, and little bumps on your skin all have something in common: They could be signs of rosacea. Rosacea is a common skin condition that can be caused and triggered by various factors—and yes, alcohol is potentially one of them. So what can you do about it if you deal with this chronic skin concern?

We asked Curology’s team of licensed dermatology providers to shed light on how that glass of wine or pint of beer may be affecting your skin. Plus, they’ll also explain how you can manage your rosacea. 

What causes rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by flushing, redness, and acne-like bumps on the face. While we don’t know exactly what causes rosacea, there are a few different factors that contribute to its development:¹

Neurovascular dysregulation: Dysfunction in regulating blood vessels and nerves in the skin is a possible mechanism for rosacea.

Immune system activation: An immune response involving the release of inflammatory mediators may also contribute to the development of rosacea.

Demodex mites: These microscopic mites that naturally inhabit the skin have been associated with rosacea. Higher numbers of Demodex mites have been found in individuals with rosacea, although it’s unclear whether they cause or a consequence of the condition.²

Genetic predisposition: Rosacea tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component. Specific human leucocyte antigen loci have been identified in patients with rosacea.

Environmental factors: Ultraviolet exposure is a known trigger for rosacea, and it may also play a role in the development of the condition.³

Helicobacter pylori: This bacterium, commonly associated with stomach ulcers, has been reported to be associated with rosacea, although the exact nature of this relationship is still being studied.

While these factors are thought to contribute to the development of rosacea, the condition can vary among individuals, so the exact combination of causes may differ from person to person.⁴ Rosacea generally remains undetected but becomes activated by specific triggers such as food, allergens, and alcohol.

How alcohol can trigger rosacea 

Alcohol is reported as one of the most common rosacea triggers. The consumption of wine has been linked explicitly to rosacea flushing. Specifically, components in red wine may have a substantial impact on blood vessels and contribute to this increased redness. Even small amounts of alcohol, as low as 1-4 grams per day, can aggravate rosacea flushing.⁵

Research shows that exposure to extreme temperatures, spices, and alcohol can cause dilation of lymphatic and blood vessels in people with rosacea. This dilation leads to heightened flushing and increased redness.⁶

It’s important to know that if your face turns red after consuming alcohol, it may not necessarily be rosacea! It could be an alcohol flush reaction, which is a different phenomenon.

Alcohol flush reaction 

Alcohol flush reaction, often referred to as Asian flush or Asian glow, is not an allergic reaction to alcohol but rather a form of alcohol intolerance. It’s primarily caused by genetic variations in certain enzymes that affect how efficiently alcohol is metabolized in your body.⁷

If you experience facial redness after consuming alcohol, it’s important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis. They can determine whether it’s an alcohol flush reaction or if it could be related to another condition, such as rosacea. If you’re diagnosed with rosacea, various treatment options are available to manage and alleviate your symptoms.

Rosacea treatments 

Several approaches can help manage and alleviate rosacea symptoms. Here are three common treatment options your doctor may recommend:⁸

1. Avoid the triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers such as UV light, spicy foods, weather changes, and alcoholic beverages is an essential first step. Keeping a rosacea diary can help you to pinpoint your specific triggers and help you avoid them.

2. Skincare routine adjustments

Using pH-balanced skin cleansers instead of soaps, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and regularly moisturizing are universal skincare recommendations for rosacea patients. Avoid products that can cause skin irritation due to your skin’s increased sensitivity. Cosmetics containing green pigment can also help mask persistent redness associated with rosacea.

3. Medication options

Both oral and topical medications can be prescribed for rosacea depending on the signs and symptoms present in each case. The goal of most therapies is to reduce inflammation. Brimonidine gel, for instance, effectively addresses reddened skin associated with rosacea. Creams or gels containing azelaic acidivermectin, or metronidazole can also help reduce the inflammation and acne-like breakouts associated with rosacea. These powerful rosacea-fighting ingredients can be found in our personalized Curology rosacea treatment.

Speak with a dermatology provider 

Consult with your dermatologist to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your circumstances and the severity of your condition. They can provide personalized recommendations and guide the selection of suitable medications or therapies to manage your rosacea symptoms effectively.

Treat rosacea with Curology 

At Curology, our personalized approach ensures that your unique skin needs are addressed with precision. By connecting you with experienced dermatology providers, we offer expert guidance throughout your rosacea treatment journey. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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How do you get rid of rosacea from drinking?

To address rosacea triggered by drinking, certain lifestyle changes can be helpful. The most direct approach to reduce alcohol-induced rosacea symptoms is to stop drinking alcohol altogether. This can help prevent alcohol-triggered flushing and reduce inflammation associated with rosacea. If completely avoiding alcohol is not feasible, minimizing alcohol consumption or opting for non-alcoholic alternatives may still provide some relief.

What are the biggest triggers of rosacea?

There are several commonly reported triggers that are known to frequently make rosacea symptoms worse:⁹

  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption is one of the most frequently reported triggers associated with rosacea. It can cause flushing and worsen redness in many individuals with the condition.

  • Spicy foods and cinnamaldehyde-containing foods: Spicy foods and foods containing cinnamaldehyde (e.g.,citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes) have been identified as triggers for rosacea symptoms.These can cause flushing and increased redness in some individuals.

  • Hot drinks: Hot drinks, such as hot coffee or tea, are known to trigger flushing and aggravate rosacea symptoms in certain individuals.

  • Histamine-rich foods: Foods that are high in histamine, such as aged cheese, wine, and processed meats, have been reported to trigger or worsen rosacea symptoms in some people.

Triggers can also be environmental such as UV light or weather changes.¹⁰

Keep in mind that these triggers can vary from person to person, and you may have additional triggers that are specific to your condition. Identifying and avoiding personal triggers is key in managing and minimizing the symptoms of rosacea.

How much do you have to drink to get rosacea?

The impact of alcohol on rosacea can vary by person. However, even small amounts of alcohol, such as 1-4 grams per day, have been found to potentially worsen rosacea flushing, and the more you drink, the worse the reaction can become.¹¹

It’s important to recognize that rosacea is influenced by multiple factors, and alcohol is just one potential trigger.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework, so you don’t have to:

  1. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. (2023, April 19).

  2. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  3. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  4. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  5. Searle, T., et al. Rosacea and Diet: What is New in 2021? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. (December 2021).

  6. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  7. Brooks, P.J., et al. The Alcohol Flushing Response: An Unrecognized Risk Factor for Esophageal Cancer from Alcohol Consumption. PLoS Med. (2009, March 24).

  8. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  9. Searle, T., et al. Rosacea and Diet: What is New in 2021? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid. 

  10. Farshchian, M. and Daveluy S. Rosacea. StatPearls. Ibid.

  11. Searle, T., et al. Rosacea and Diet: What is New in 2021? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. Ibid.

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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