Why Does My Face Get Red When I Drink

Why Does My Face Get Red When I Drink?

A Telltale Sign of Drinking and How to Prevent It

Many people experience facial flushing when they consume a drink or two. The more alcohol you consume, the more likely you are to notice rosy cheeks in the mirror. There is actually a scientific basis for this common condition, and it affects more people than you may realize. It can be more common in certain ethnicities.

However, it can affect anyone and can be seen as a type of alcohol intolerance, leaving many of us to ask: why does my face get red when I drink?

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If you wonder why your cheeks turn colors when you drink, here is what you need to know about why your face flushes and how you can prevent it through treatment for alcohol with Icarus Behavioral Health!

Why Does My Face Get Red When I Drink?

Why Face Get Red When Drink

There are two main reasons why your face might turn red when drinking, also known as alcohol flush. Both are genetic conditions. It helps to understand just why these occurrences take place. Let’s take a closer look at low alcohol dehydrogenase and rosacea.

Low Alcohol Dehydrogenase in Asian Populations

The first is that you may have an enzyme deficiency which is most common in Asian populations. Of course, it could impact anyone but it is more likely in this population. Your rosy glow could be caused by lower alcohol dehydrogenase. This is the chemical in the body responsible for breaking down your alcoholic beverages.

If you have low alcohol dehydrogenase, it means that you will not be able to break down the alcohol in your system, which is toxic to the body. Instead, alcohol enters the cells and leads to dilated blood vessels. As a result, you get the alcohol flush reaction that is common for many.

Low levels of this enzyme don’t necessarily mean that you are allergic to alcohol. It is perhaps best described as an alcohol intolerance instead. It impacts how you metabolize drinking which may be less effective than others.

If acetaldehyde builds up in the body, you may encounter other symptoms like heart palpitations, nausea and vomiting, sweating, issues with blood pressure, and headaches.

Rosacea in Fair-Skinned People

According to Cleveland Clinic, alcohol flush reaction is also seen in those who have fair skin, particularly those of Northern European ancestry. If you are fair-skinned and experience facial flushing when you drink, it could be the result of too much movement in your blood vessels. This is a condition known as vasomotor hyperactivity.

How do you know if this is the cause of your facial flushing reaction to alcohol?

If you have too much dilation of your blood vessels, then your facial flushing will take place even when you don’t consume alcohol. It can surface when you eat other foods that contribute to dilated blood vessels ranging from chocolate to coffee to spicy foods.

Take note of how your face looks after consuming some of these items to see if rosacea could be the cause.

The Link Between Alcohol Flush Reaction and Cancer

For those who drink alcohol and experience this type of flush, there may be good cause for kicking the habit. Alcohol consumption that results in flush means that you may be more at risk for certain conditions like esophageal cancer. Particularly if your alcohol flush reaction stems from an enzyme deficiency, you might be at risk for the development of other types of cancer as well: digestive, liver, respiratory, and breast cancer.

Why does your alcohol metabolism matter when it comes to the development of cancer?

You may already know that alcohol is technically a toxin in the body. If you have a hard time processing this toxin, you will have more of a buildup in the system when drinking alcohol. As this chemical builds up, the body’s ability to process the carcinogenic agent builds up and can lead to various types of cancer.

A red face can also be an indicator that you have alcohol-induced high blood pressure.

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How to Prevent the Alcohol Flush Reaction

Are you tired of people knowing that you have been drinking alcohol simply because your face turns red when you drink?

As you may have guessed, there may not be much you can do about the way your body process alcohol, otherwise known as your alcohol metabolism. Especially if it is caused by your genetic disposition, you won’t be able to escape this alcohol flush unless you limit the amount of alcohol you consume.

Limiting Alcohol Consumption

Limiting Alcohol Consumption

The best thing to do would be to eliminate alcohol consumption or to significantly limit it. This reduces the risk of developing subsequent conditions like esophageal cancer, liver cancer, or even respiratory cancers.

Of course, there are a few things you can do to still drink alcohol without the flush reaction that you are predisposed to. For example, you may be able to minimize the redness in your face if you catch it relatively early. It is a sign that your alcohol intake is building up in the body and it is time to slow things down.

Rehydrate with Water

You might also want to rehydrate at this point to minimize the alcohol flush reaction. This dilutes some of the alcohol in the bloodstream and takes away the increased risks of developing cancer. Of course, this only helps if you slow down your alcohol intake at the same time.

Taking Antihistamines to Limit Flush

Another thing that many people do to limit the redness of their face when drinking is to take antihistamines such as Zantac. Unfortunately, many people do not realize the risk that comes with continuing to drink while consuming antihistamines.

According to the University of Southern California, taking these over-the-counter medications doesn’t allow you to notice when your body has had enough alcohol. You won’t know when you need to slow down your drinking and start consuming more water.

Taking Antihistamines to Limit Flush

As a result, you might continue to drink more than you should which puts you at an increased risk of developing cancer. You might even start to develop a tolerance for the medication, forcing you to take higher dosages on this off-label use. In turn, it can lead to an increased risk of other health problems when you don’t notice the behavioral or physical effects of drinking.

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Get Help for Alcohol Use with Icarus

If you find that you are subject to developing a red face when drinking, it is important to get your drinking under control to limit your long-term risks of developing cancer. At Icarus Behavioral Health, we have a detox center, inpatient rehab, and an intensive outpatient program to help you get control over your alcohol consumption.

Reach out to us today for a confidential call and learn more about our options for effective treatment when it comes to alcohol!


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