From the clinic #4: Alcohol and atopic eczema

author/source: DrB



When assessing atopic eczema for The Combined Approach, we recommend asking at the first clinic visit which trigger factors are already known that contribute to acute eczema flare-ups.

Some are easier to recognise than others. These may be given without them being directly asked about, for example stress, season, and allergies.

Others may be identified only if they are directly asked about: air-conditioning, sleep-overs, and drinking alcohol, for example.

Alcoholic drinks like beer, spirits and wine can affect the skin in a variety of ways. Allergy or intolerance to alcohol itself is rare, compared with that to some other ingredient of a particular drink. This may reflect the source of the alcohol: grain, or grape for example. Otherwise it may be there to add flavour, or as a preservative.

It is striking that skin reactions are more often reported to red wine than to white wine - once this is known, it is easy to avoid problems by sticking to white!

Even so, these skin reactions are also uncommon.

More often recognised is the common skin reaction to alcoholic drinks that occurs through an increase in blood supply to the skin, so-called skin “flushing”. When inflammation of active eczema is already present, it is easy to understand how any alcoholic drink may make matters worse.

Knowing this can also be helpful!

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