While it has been known for some time that alcohol consumption can trigger rosacea flares in people with the condition, it appears alcohol can also increase the risk of developing rosacea in women who do not have the condition, researchers report online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Apr. 20, 2017).
“Drinking alcohol has a number of effects on your body that can impact your skin,” study author Dr. Abrar A. Qureshi, chair of the Department of Dermatology at Brown University in Providence, R.I., said in a press release “While alcohol has been linked to a variety of skin disorders, including psoriasis and acne, our research suggests that it’s also associated with the development of rosacea in women.”
The study reviewed data collected as part of the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study II, followed 82,737 women from 1991 to 2005. Information on the women’s alcohol intake was collected every four years during follow-up, and information on history of clinician-diagnosed rosacea and year of diagnosis was collected in 2005.
A total of 4,945 cases of rosacea were identified in the population.
Compared with women who never drank alcohol, increased alcohol intake was associated with a significantly increased risk of rosacea (ptrend <0.0001). The multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were 1.12 (95% CI 1.05–1.20) for alcohol intake of 1 to 4 g/day and 1.53 (1.26–1.84) for ≥30 g/day. These associations remained consistent across categories of smoking status.
When the investigators broke down the data by types of alcoholic beverage consumed, they found that white wine (ptrend <0.0001) and liquor consumption (ptrend =0.0006) were significantly associated with a higher risk of rosacea.
While red wine has been previously identified as a rosacea trigger for those who already have the condition, this study did not find it was significantly associated with developing rosacea in the first place. The authors note that white wine and liquor contain high concentrations of alcohol without the flavonoids and other anti-inflammatory substances found in red wine. Despite those anti-inflammatory properties, red wine also contains molecules such as histamine and resveratrol that may contribute to flushing in patients who already have rosacea, the authors write.
The authors note that since this was an epidemiological study, further research is necessary to determine why alcohol consumption may increase the risk of rosacea. However, they say that alcohol’s potential to weaken the immune system and dilate blood vessels could contribute to the redness and flushing that occur in people with the condition.
“Our research contributes to the sizable body of evidence that demonstrates alcohol’s harmful effects on the body, including the skin,” Dr. Qureshi said. “Science has identified many factors that may potentially cause rosacea, and our study indicates that alcohol may be one of them.”