Everything in moderation. That’s the age-old adage that you hear a lot when it comes to health and wellness. Alcohol is no exception. Though there is a plethora of research online that outlines the harmful bodily effects of alcohol, everyone is different. You know your individual tolerance, so in no way is this going to be an anti-alcohol article. Rather, we seek to inform you of the potential effects of alcohol and your acne. You can then choose for yourself how you’d like to proceed with your habits.
1. Your Immune System
Although the connection is not exactly clear, it has been shown through various studies that an increased consumption of alcohol can damage or reduce the number of T cells in your body. These are the cells responsible for targeting and attacking bacteria in the body. If it weren’t for T cells, our bodies would be much more susceptible to infections. Alcohol also contributes to inflammation on the body. If you know the cycle of acne, bacteria and inflammation makes for an almost breeding ground for pimples on your skin. A reduction in T cells and an increase of inflammatory properties will no doubt lead to an increased amount of acne on your face and other parts of your body.
You know how people tell you to drink water while you drink alcohol? It’s not just because it can help you stave off a hangover the next morning. That heavy, groggy feeling you have the morning after is because of dehydration, caused by the alcohol. Your body is robbed of water, and thus nutrients, causing you to not only develop a horrible headache, but it leads to your skin also being dehydrated and robbed of nutrients. When your skin is dehydrated, it may begin to peel and flake due to the accumulation of dead skin cells. In turn, those dead skin cells can be bacteria-carrying, they can get clogged in your pores, and thus create a clear path to acne. Keeping your face and body hydrated will eliminate the chance that your skin cells die off, flake, and cause you to break out.
Alcohol has been known to cause an imbalance in hormones. Clearly an imbalance of anything in the body is a bad thing, but when your hormones become out of whack, it can wreak havoc on the skin. You might know from other articles on this site that an overabundance of hormones such as testosterone can increase the production of sebum, that waxy oil your body’s sebaceous glands produce to lubricate the face and scalp. When the level of testosterone goes up, the amount of sebum on your face increases, and your face becomes oily while your pores clog up. Enter acne and a serious case of breakouts. Curbing your alcohol intake will ensure your hormone levels stay balanced.
Not only does alcohol dehydrate the skin, it can also cause inflammation. If your skin becomes red and inflamed, it is not healthy, and therefore the irritation will lead acne, blemishes, and pimples. Inflammation, especially chronic inflammation, serves to block your pores, and if you cannot access or open your pores to rid them of dirt and bacteria, then you have set the perfect stage for your acne to develop.
5. Destruction of Collagen
You know that smooth, stretchy elasticity of your skin? That’s a result of a good amount of collagen in the skin. Collagen is the component that allows your skin to retain its young, healthy look; simply put, it makes your skin look new. The more collagen you have in your skin, the quicker your skin is able to bounce back after irritation, a rash, or a night of heavy drinking. That’s because it helps to regenerate the skin cells and help you heal, especially if you experience scarring as a result of acne. However, sustained alcohol consumption can drastically deplete the collagen in your face. Once that goes, your skin will become wrinkled, old-looking, and will not retain that young look. Your face will be less able to combat the effects of acne.
6. A Spike in Insulin
Finally, while testosterone is definitely a hormonal culprit in the production of sebum, not many know that insulin plays just as big a role. If you find yourself consuming overly sugary drinks, you are contributing to a spike in your body’s insulin levels. When that happens, the production of sebum is triggered, and your body starts to lubricate itself in your trouble spots, such as your hairline and the T-zone of your face. Avoid the excessively sugary drinks if you want to curb your insulin levels and get your sebaceous glands under control.