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6 Flare-Proof Tips for Enjoying Happy Hour When You Have Rosacea

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Who doesn’t like to indulge in a cocktail during happy hour? It’s not only the perfect way to end a long workday, moderate consumption of alcohol may also provide some potential health benefits, notes the Mayo Clinic (though just how beneficial is up for debate)…..CONTINUE READING

One thing’s for sure: If you have the skin condition rosacea, a seemingly harmless glass of red wine could have a surprising effect on your skin.

Rosacea causes redness on the cheeks, chin, forehead, and nose, and affects over 16 million Americans, according to the National Rosacea Society (NRS). Facial redness can come and go, with different factors triggering flares. These factors include too much sun exposure, stress, exercise, spicy foods — and yes, drinking booze.

How much alcohol it takes to trigger rosacea, though, seems to vary. “Each person has a different tolerance,” says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a dermatologist in Santa Monica, California. “What triggers one person may not be enough to do so for a different patient.”

This raises a question: What’s the connection between rosacea and alcohol?

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Well, because rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin condition, the effects of drinking alcohol have a lot to do with inflammation, notes a study published in June 2017 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. When evaluating rosacea risk in American women, researchers found that drinking booze increased the production of inflammatory cytokines, which are cell-signaling molecules. This increase, in turn, can lead to vasodilation, or a widening of the blood vessels.

The fact that alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate is what exacerbates rosacea, says Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with offices in New York City and Hicksville, New York.

So, what are your options if alcohol bothers your skin? Try these science-backed tips to help minimize a red reaction.

1. Choose Alcoholic Drinks That Don’t Irritate Your Skin

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Keep track of flares to determine which alcoholic beverages you’re able to tolerate. For example, some people with rosacea have less of a problem with beer than with wine.

Research on the effects of beer on skin diseases is limited. But according to an article published in February 2014 in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, some compounds in beer have shown anti-inflammatory properties. Still, more research is needed before knowing what role they may have in treating skin conditions such as rosacea, the researchers wrote.

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It’s important to note that a drink that triggers flares in one person might not be a trigger for another. “It’s very much about finding your individual triggers,” says Mary Lupo, MD, a dermatologist and founder of the Lupo Center for Aesthetic and General Dermatology in New Orleans.

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For example, a 2010 NRS survey found that red wine was a trigger for more than 72 percent of people asked, white wine for 49 percent, and beer for 42 percent. Liquor, on the other hand, affected far fewer people. A margarita, then, could be a smarter choice than a glass of sangria.

2.  Drink Slowly to Ingest Less Alcohol and Reduce Flares

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“I tell patients that they can drink but not to excess,” Dr. Kormeili says.

Consider keeping a diary, noting each time you drink alcohol, as well as the type of drink. This can help determine the amount of alcohol you can tolerate, allowing you to stay under your trigger amount.

It also helps to drink slower, as this can lower your cumulative alcohol intake, Dr. Lupo says.

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Dr. Mudgil adds, “The less alcohol ingested, the less vasodilation, which can also minimize rosacea flares.”

3. Order Your Alcoholic Beverages on the Rocks

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Lupo also recommends chilled wines and spirits, which can be easier on your skin than warm or room-temperature drinks.

Saryna Young, MD, a dermatologist at Westmed Medical Group in White Plains, New York, agrees. “Heat is another vasodilator,” Dr. Young says. “So chilled beverages are going to cause less blood vessel expansion than warm beverages, including room-temperature alcohol.”

4.  Alternate Your Drinks With a Glass of Water

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Alcohol is a diuretic and promotes urination, so there’s the risk of dehydration from too much alcohol, according to the NHS. And Young says that dehydration can lead to skin sensitivity and compromise the skin’s barrier.

Also, “rosacea-affected skin tends to be dehydrated at baseline,” Mudgil continues. “The more dehydrated the skin gets, the more prone it is to flaring. Since alcohol is dehydrating, it’s important to be mindful of your hydration status when you have rosacea.”

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How can you combat this? Consuming a glass of water between drinks helps dilute the alcohol and prevent some of the pH changes in your system, says Lupo.

In addition, Mudgil says, “Alcohol pushes our body into an acidic state, which is thought to be pro-inflammatory. Drinking water helps to balance the body and draw it closer to an alkaline state, which is anti-inflammatory.”

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Everyone’s water needs are different, but 2014 recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine advises sipping between ½ ounce (oz) to 1 oz of fluid, which includes water, for each pound of body weight you have. Put differently, a 150-pound person would want to aim to swig 9 ½ to 18 ¾ cups of fluid each day. Check with your healthcare team to find out how much fluid your body needs for optimal health.

5.  Avoid Other Known Triggers of Rosacea When You Drink

chili peppers

Hot and spicy foods are rosacea triggers for some, so stay away from things like horseradish dip and hot sauce when you’re drinking alcohol, Lupo advises. “Heat dilates the blood vessels in the skin, and since hot foods generate heat, peppers are a big no-no,” she says.

Instead, stick to safe foods that help fight inflammation. These include spinach, kale, broccoli, salmon, tuna, sardines, blueberries, strawberries, nuts, beans, and olive oil, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

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While on the subject of food, keep in mind that it takes longer to absorb a cocktail when it’s combined with food, thus slowing the rate at which alcohol enters your body, notes the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD). Foods high in fat are especially good at slowing the absorption of alcohol in the body, including the risk of flares.

At the bar, skip the Buffalo wings and jalapeño poppers and opt for anti-inflammatory yet high-fat cauliflower bites, salmon, or nuts.

6.  Sidestep Alcohol and Ask the Bartender to Whip You Up a Mocktail

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If you’d like to minimize your risk for a flare but don’t want to feel left out of happy hour, have a glass of sparkling water with a twist of lime. It will look like you’re enjoying a gin and tonic, and no one will be the wiser, Lupo says. The NRS even suggests trading in your Champagne for a ginger ale.

A virgin version of your favorite cocktail is another option — perhaps a virgin daiquiri or a virgin piña colada. Or, request your own DIY mocktail. These are nonalcoholic beverages containing a mixture of soft drinks and juice. Order a ginger ale and orange juice, or maybe 7 Up with a splash of cranberry juice and lime…..CONTINUE READING

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