Does Alcohol Cause Acne?

Jun 2, 2022 | Alcohol Addiction

It may not harm your skin directly, but the short answer is yes, alcohol does cause acne. The domino effect from its toll on your vital organs bubbles to the surface. Though liquor also harms your internal organs, it does not come without the consequence of external blemishes. These blemishes tell a story of what’s happening on the inside. Since alcohol does cause acne, it’s these physical manifestations that are a reflection of internal harm.

Not all pimples mean something. But in the cause of alcohol they can. So how does alcohol cause acne? Understanding alcohol’s effects on your skin and body provide a greater understanding of how your body is reacting and what it’s trying to tell you. Here are a few underlying causes that could be your body’s way of telling you to stop. It also may be a sign for more qualified help and support.

How Does Alcohol Affect Your Skin?

Since alcohol absorbs at a slower rate, it has adverse trickle-down effects on all your organs. The toll alcohol has on your organs bubbles to the surface. That means, that among the organs most affected by liquor is the largest organ of your body, the skin. The job of your internal organs is to process everything that is consumed. That means expelling the imperfections and harmful chemicals your body intakes. So how does alcohol cause acne? Here are a few indirect ways your struggle can influence skin blemishes.

Inflammatory Response

Alcohol is a foreign agent in your body. Therefore inflammation is among the most common side effects on your organs. This organ irritation produces an inflammatory response as your body’s self-defense mechanism against the harmful contents of alcohol. This internal inflammation alone can influence acne breakouts. Alcohol-induced inflammation poses a danger far beyond acne. If you regularly, or even semi-regularly consume alcohol, your acne could be your body trying to tell you something. If you consume alcohol regularly, see a doctor about what your external blemishes may indicate about your health.

Excess Bacteria

The most common reason alcohol causes acne does not derive from direct harm, but from bacterial expulsion. Alcoholic substances are loaded with cancer-causing carcinogens and harmful bacteria. As your body fights off these potential harms, the bacteria finds its way to the surface. The formation of this rising bacteria manifests itself in noticeable blemishes on the skin.

Blood Oxygen Deprivation

In order to function properly, your body requires a specific blood oxygen level. Alcohol suppresses these vital oxygen sources needed for your primary organ to process properly. Lack of oxygen content in your bloodstream leaves acne traces on the surface of your skin. This also is a primary contributor to the slowed liver process in the presence of alcohol. When blood oxygen is distorted, your body functions become distorted. Prolonged use exacerbates these matters till it inflicts permanent health problems.


Alcohol is a known dehydrator as it soaks up the oxygen in your bloodstream. With that in mind, acne is most commonly a result of dry, dehydrated skin. Therefore, alcohol’s soaking up of oxygen in your bloodstream produces said dry skin, leaving you prone to blemishes. Even with the proper water intake, alcohol can still destabilize your hydration levels. Your level of dehydration also contributes to the severity of your hangover.

Does Alcohol Make Acne Worse?

Alcohol does not directly worsen acne. However, its effect on your vital bodily functions does exacerbate skin blemishes. When your liver, kidneys, and other vital organs are subjected to the strain of alcohol, the processes of all these tasks are slowed.

How Does Alcohol Affect Immune System Response?

The human immune system is the body’s Fort Knox alarm system and security team to fight off foreign invaders. These “security” T-cells are responsible for activating when a foreign agent is detected. Alcohol kills these T-cells, resulting in a minimized immune response to infections and viruses. Over time, restriction of these infection-fighting cells leaves your body prone to numerous cancers and other permanent health conditions.

How Does Alcohol Affect Hormones?

Does Alcohol Affect Hormones Whether you consume a little or a lot, alcohol causes hormonal imbalances that can be hazardous to your long-term health. In the short-term, moderate to heavy drinking produces elevated testosterone levels that stimulate the glands that regulate body oils. Stimulation of these glands results in over secretion of these body oil. In this way, alcohol does cause acne. This is also among the primary causes of inflammation-induced acne from increased hormone levels that produce this irritated response. Alcohol’s sugar content is the main culprit for both the hormonal rise and inflammatory response.

Do Different Types of Alcohol Effect Skin Differently?

Alcohol effects on your skin vary depending on your method of consumption. Beer, vodka, gin, whiskey, etc all have diverse impacts on skin health. The effect is solely dependent upon chemical compounds called congeners. Congeners are the chemical mainly responsible for the dehydrating effects of liquor. All forms of liquor carry varying forms of congeners and all are very different in their bodily harms and effects.

Lower levels of congeners mean less dehydration, while higher levels mean. This also means a lower likelihood of an inflammatory response. Bear in mind that this does not mean it is any less harmful to your body. If you struggle refraining from alcohol use, don’t be afraid to reach out to a caring professional today.

Light-Colored Alcohol

Clear forms of alcohol, commonly referred to as “hard” alcohol, have lower levels of congeners. This would include vodka, gin, champagne, and other similar drinks. Though this means a lower degree of dehydrating effects, it does not make you exempt from dehydration effects or hangovers.

Drink Mixes

The sugar content in liquor alone sends your body hormones into an unhealthy imbalance. Adding fruity and fizzy additives only exacerbates those factors. Beyond hormonal impacts, mixed drinks also raise blood sugar and contribute to inflammatory responses. All of these collective factors have a drying effect on skin and can clog pores.

Dark-Colored Alcohol

Darker forms of liquor such as rum, whiskey, and bourbon get their color from the high levels of congeners. Though these high levels of congeners are intended to make the liquor tastier, it’s not without consequences. These are the drinks that contribute most to dehydration.


Can beer cause acne? A little-known detail about beer is its congener which has yeast-suppressing properties. This congener is also a highly dehydrative chemical. These dehydrating effects subject your body and internal organs to be even more susceptible to inflammation. In addition to inflammation, beer can cause acne and health-related conditions.

Red Wines

All red wines contain high traces of the congener known as tannins. Tannins are known for constricting arteries and surrounding blood vessels. This constriction exacerbates the consumer’s dehydration effects. In moderation, red wine is not much of a health detriment. But, exposing your blood vessels to its constricting chemical properties can bring on life-long consequences.

White Wines

White wine contains the same congener as red wine, thus magnifying skin dryness and overall dehydration. Though it may not be as severe as red wine in regards to hangover effects, it has equally damaging impacts on your blood vessels. In very strict moderation, an occasional glass of wine is cited to have heart health benefits. For moderate to frequent drinkers, however, it has reverse benefits and can cause numerous health consequences.

The Bottom Line about Alcohol and Acne

The bottom line and million-dollar question is does alcohol cause acne? While it doesn’t directly cause blemishes, the effects and tolls it takes on your body does. But, whether or not alcohol does cause acne is almost irrelevant in contrast to the bigger picture of your health. By taxing and putting added strain on your organs and blood vessels, prolonged use is a severe detriment to preserving your life.


If you have trouble abstaining from alcohol in any form, Chapters Recovery Center can guide you back to good health. Nobody is above falling victim to alcohol addiction and it can happen to the best of us. There’s no shame in admitting you need help. Admitting you need help exhibits the strength you have within. Chapters Recovery Center can help you turn a new chapter in your life. Start life fresh with a happy life in recovery today.

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