There is currently no robust scientific evidence to suggest that alcohol plays a role in the development of AD or as a trigger of flares, despite this people often report that their symptoms become worse after drinking.
Alcohol & Eczema
July 5, 2023
Alcohol & Eczema
Many people drink alcohol socially and as a way to relax, and in moderation alcohol can be consumed as part of a balanced lifestyle. General advice for keeping the risk of negative effects from alcohol low include not drinking more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, and spreading drinking over 3 or more days if you regularly drink more than 14 units.
While there is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that alcohol has a role in the development of AD or as a trigger for flares, some people with AD report that their symptoms become worse after drinking. One of the few studies investigating the link between AD and alcohol found no “consistent association” between alcohol and flares. Unfortunately there is not a lot of research in this area, and therefore the most important thing you can do is to keep track of your symptoms and try to identify any potential triggers.
How does alcohol affect AD?
When the body breaks down alcohol, histamine is released as part of an immune response. Histamines are chemicals that play a role in inflammation, and they cause “allergy” symptoms such as redness and itching. Histamines also cause blood vessels to dilate, again resulting in redness and causing AD-affected areas to become more red, itchy and uncomfortable.
There is some evidence that alcohol can affect the integrity of the skin barrier, the protective layer that keeps moisture in and prevents irritants from penetrating the skin. The skin barrier is already vulnerable in those with AD, and therefore this damage may have the ability to worsen symptoms.
Alcohol is a ‘diuretic’, meaning it draws water out of the body and causes dehydration. Those with AD may already have dehydrated skin, and so alcohol has the potential to exacerbate dryness and make skin symptoms worse.
Precautions to take when drinking alcohol
You may find some alcohol triggers a flare up - try to keep a track of what alcohol you are drinking, how much, and whether you have had any reaction. If you notice a pattern, try to avoid this and also inform your doctor.
Certain medical treatments require you to avoid alcohol - including some immunosuppressants and antibiotics. If you have been prescribed a new medication, always check with your doctor to make sure it is safe to drink alcohol.
In order to counteract the dehydrating effects of alcohol, try to consume at least a glass of water between each alcohol drink.