11 Amazing things that happen to eczema when you quit alcohol
To all the Boozy-Suzy’s, wino’s, beer-tap Barry’s, whiskey connoisseurs, and rum-heads alike!
You like a drink, I like a drink, let’s not beat around the bush. Everyone loves to get a buzz on and let the good times flow, but lately you’ve been getting that sinking feeling that all this drinking might be affecting your eczema.
Trust me, I can hear your cries of injustice. First eczema took away your sleeveless summer cut-off’s, next it was the milkshakes and cheeseburgers, and now it wants to punch us straight in our jewels and take away the only thing left in this world… liquid lunches and Friday night brew’s.
In reality, alcohol is not exactly easy to avoid. Sure, we can just say no, but for a lot of us that is like going to the cinema and not watching the movie.
Alcohol is so embedded in our cultures that alcohol surrounds us at almost every event, and it’s not easy to resist - I get it. Having eczema and trying to be normal is hard enough without becoming the social pariah, standing on the outskirts with our ‘I’m trying to find this funny’ expressions and holding the ‘I’m pretending this is wine' glass of juice.
That said, if you suspect alcohol is connected to your eczema flares, then you might be forced to make a choice between your health, and getting ripped on the weekend.
Either way, I’m glad you decided to stop by because I’m about to hit you with some cold hard truth.
There is really no easy way to say this. Alcohol can, and often does, contribute to worsening eczema and topical steroid withdrawal symptoms.
Yes, it can actually be making your symptoms worse and if you’d like to face the music, please read on while I tell you what will actually happen to your eczema when you put down the bottle.
Your gut can begin to heal, leading to a reduction in inflammation, food intolerance and digestion related issues.
This happens due to a combination of factors within the digestive system, working in a symbiotic relationship with your body.
1. Candida levels will reduce and balance
Regular drinking causes good bacteria in the stomach to actually die off, leading to an imbalance (dysbiosis) in the gut. This allows candida the opportunity to thrive and multiply = inflammation cocktail!
As you may be aware, candida is a type of yeast and when it is allowed to flourish, it has been linked to the development of eczema symptoms.
On top of this, certain strains of candida actually use alcohol as its food source, further exacerbating this issue. Yes, you read that right. Candida is enjoying that margarita more than you are!
Alcohol is destructive to the healthy function of the gut that by stopping consumption, over time and with support, the damaging effects of endotoxins and inflammation caused by alcohol will reverse, reducing candida levels and balancing the bacterial microbes.
This recovery process can take a while and of course needs the right dietary support to return to a healthy level.
2. The mucosal membrane will heal
Another unfortunate side effect of alcohol is that it actually damages the mucosal membrane, located in our digestive tract.
The mucosal lining extends through our gastrointestinal tract and within the small intestine, is home to the villi and microvilli which are responsible for extracting nutrients from our food.
When the mucosal lining is damaged or irritated, this causes inflammation with excessive alcohol consumption linked to proliferation of this membrane.
By ceasing the intake of alcohol, your mucosa will begin to repair. The inflammation and intolerance's caused by large particles passing through the permeated lining into the blood stream is then halted as healing progresses.
3. Your villi will heal, leading to better absorption of nutrients
Villi live in our digestive tract, they are only one cell thick and stand between our food and our blood supply.
The role of the villi is to absorb the specific nutrients from our food, then transmit them to the blood supply for feeding our body. The villi are constantly renewing and replacing in order to keep themselves youthful and working efficiently.
Heavy alcohol consumption (classed as 5 or more drinks on the same occasion, for 5 or more days out of every 30 days) can actually damage the villi, leading to nutritional deficiencies and holes between the villi which allow larger particles to pass through – inducing what's called Leaky Gut syndrome and thus, inflammation.
4. Your susceptibility to infection will reduce
Many people with eczema experience increased susceptibility to infections of the skin and body on account of their weakened immune systems and poor skin barrier.
Drinking moderate alcohol continues to undermine us by actually reducing our white blood cells, further diminishing our host defense system.
White blood cells are part of our body’s defense structure and are responsible for killing off infection-causing germs. They are necessary for protecting our body against a majority of foreign invaders and they do an amazing job of it.
Drinking alcohol can impair this production, thus leaving us more exposed to infection.
5. The hydration of your skin is already at a deficit. By stopping alcohol, the level of fluid volume around your cells will improve.
This occurs for two reasons:
Firstly, over exposure to alcohol can affect the balance of electrolytes in the body. Sodium, the main electrolyte in our system, controls the regulation of water use which contributes to not only dehydration on the inside, but also dehydration of our already depleted skin barrier. In a nutshell, our skin will be better hydrated, thus improving eczema resilience.
Secondly, alcohol is a diuretic. This means that it steals much needed water from your body and sends it straight to your bladder. Haven’t you ever wondered why you seem to be more potty-needy when you drink?!
6. Your sleep will improve
Studies have shown that the eczema sufferer can typically lose YEARS of sleep during their lifetimes. A whopping 6-8 years of sleep is lost to this condition, which probably comes as no surprise.
It is an illogical, cruel and health-sabotaging cycle and right when you need it most, 3am continues to remind you that you ain't getting it. So what do some people do? Get tipsy to fall asleep!
The question here is whether or not alcohol is actually a help or a hinder to beneficial sleep?
Ok, so there’s a real reason we find grandpa nodding off so soon after his post-lunch shandies. The sedative effect of alcohol initially makes us gloriously drowsy due to the suppression of our own naturally produced stimulant, glutamine.
Once this initial effect wears off, the body then kicks in its glutamine production again.
The problem is that after having been unnaturally suppressed, the body is out of balance and thus experiences what’s called the “rebound awakening”.
The rebound awakening is the sudden increase of glutamine which stimulates the person to such an extent whereby causing heart palpitations and a reduction of the REM phase of sleep - which is the deepest level of sleep where real rest and proper healing occurs.
REM sleep is basically the holy grail for eczema sufferers.
So while alcohol may help you get to sleep, it is actually detrimental to your already compromised quality of sleep.
7. Reduction in skin redness
Alcohol is known to dilate blood vessels, causing the skin to become red and flushed.
When you have eczema, these areas seem to be more prone to redness therefore they tend to flush first, further highlighting those already inflamed areas.
What is the best way to avoid looking like you’ve just finished 5 hours of spin class? Avoid alcohol.
8. Your don’t have to worry about avoiding all the other, typical eczema-triggering foods
Look, I’ll be the first to admit that once we’ve had a few ‘bubblies’, caution can be thrown to the wind and any drink is fair game.
It's far too easy to become less interested in the type of alcohol in your hand, and more interested in whether or not you really do posess the 'moves like Jagger'.
If you’ve come this far and managed to find yourself a type of alcohol which has no negative effects to your skin, that is wonderful and my envy is off the charts. Though if you are still in the experimental stage, be wary and do your research because there are abundant hidden and not-so-hidden triggers lurking in your highball.
It could be refined sugar or dairy in your favorite cocktails and mixers, or the salicylates and histamines in your wine, or even yeast and gluten in your beer, not to mention artificial colors and preservatives!
In fact, most alcoholic beverages come with some type of potential eczema trigger. So my advice to you is to know what you’re going to drink before you drink it, and don’t let a crazy night at the karaoke bar ruin all your great efforts.
9. Happy liver = better eczema
Without going into depth, the body of the eczema person is letting in more toxins than it should via the skin and potentially the gut. This means your filtration systems are working overtime, processing more than the average person.
This is why the liver of many eczema sufferers is overburdened and when you add alcohol into this mix, your poor liver must then process quadruple the load. As a result, it cannot detox everything fast enough.
The flow-on effect to this occurs when the liver is just too overburdened and the toxins are distributed among the other detoxing organs, including the biggest one of them all; the skin. This can spell disaster as it may serve to increase inflammation and eczema symptoms.
By stopping the consumption of alcohol, you are essentially taking a load off your liver and letting it do its job properly while at the same time, keeping your skin a little less toxic
10. Improved skin aging, less breaking and tearing
Through a process known as glycation, alcohol has been shown to enhance the stress in the skin, causing further degeneration.
Affecting collagen production, alcohol can lead to acceleration of skin aging and the early onset of wrinkles and sagging. By impairing the elasticity of the skin, this induces hardening and a skin barrier which is easily torn.
For anyone with eczema, increased resilience to breaking and lesions is a sure win.
11. Reduction of nutrition deficiencies = better immune system and less inflammation
Regular drinkers may look forward to happy-hour, but they can also look forward to nutritional deficiencies.
This can happen for the following reasons:
A. The liver uses certain stored nutrients to process alcohol. It may only take one drink for these stores to become depleted, causing the liver to then leach the body of the nutrients it needs.
These nutrients include Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, and calcium. The depletion of many of these is linked to inflammation of the body.
B. Alcohol can impair the body’s ability to absorb Vitamin C, which is a known ‘nutrient soldier’ for our immune systems and overall skin health.
C. Where there is degradation of other organs, deficiencies are exacerbated. This includes the health of the digestive tract, as mentioned in number two.
Leaky Gut Syndrome literally slows down the guts ability to absorb nutrients effectively, which then slows down the gut’s capacity to heal itself. This cycle means your body can become malnourished in any number of vitamins and minerals, leading to even more health problems.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you may be able to indulge in the odd ‘half a dozen reds with dinner’. My friend, you have dodged a bullet. If you don’t show any visible issues however, just remember that drinking alcohol may still be doing your body harm.
For the rest of us, we need to treat our bodies with the highest amount of self-respect possible and unfortunately that may mean having to limit or totally avoid alcohol altogether.
This need not be a sad moment in our lives, but a time to rejoice in the luck that we live in a time where this knowledge is available to us, and that we have the opportunity and the strength of character to be the healthiest we can be.
After all is said and done, the best thing you can do is educate yourselves, talk to your doctor, make better informed choices and ultimately treat yourself with the care you deserve.
Subscribe to my 'e-Mel' list for more eczema stuff, including a free copy of my eBook - 200 Ways To Beat Eczema. Click here.