Did you know that almost one-third of adults in the UK drink alcohol at levels that can harm their health? This is a significant portion of the population. So, it’s no wonder that questions about alcohol’s effects on our appearance are frequently asked online.
One commonly asked question is, “What is an ‘alcoholic face’?” The term itself is derogatory and not preferred by professionals. Still, it sparks a conversation about the visible impact of alcohol abuse on one’s appearance, particularly the facial signs of alcoholism.
Is There a Thing Called ‘Alcoholic Face?’ What Does It Mean?
The term “alcoholic face” has some basis: people who drink heavily tend to develop specific facial characteristics over time. The phrase has been used for several decades, but its origin is unclear. Likely, the concept of the physical effects of alcohol consumption on the face has been recognised for centuries. However, today, the term “alcoholic face” is not used in medical and scientific circles. We prefer to focus on the underlying causes of alcohol addiction and how it can be treated rather than on the visible signs.
What Causes an Alcoholic Face?
Can you tell an alcoholic by their face? Alcohol face is the concern, but it does not always start that way. Alcoholic face occurs in a person’s appearance due to chronic alcohol abuse or alcoholism. So, how does it become expressed in our physical appearance? It is often seen as a red flush on the cheeks, nose, and under the eyes.
One cause of an alcoholic face is the buildup of acetaldehyde in the body. Acetaldehyde is a toxic metabolite produced when the body breaks down alcohol. It is often metabolised in the liver, but a buildup causes the blood vessels to dilate, leading to a red flush on the skin. Other side effects of acetaldehyde include;
- Alcohol-related Liver Disease
- Alcohol-related Pancreatitis.
In addition, acetaldehyde may cause weight gain, neurotoxicity, and cancer.
Also, the flushed face that can occur after drinking is due to how alcohol affects the body’s blood vessels. When alcohol is consumed, it causes the blood vessels in the body to expand, including those in the face. This increased blood flow to the face can cause a flushed or reddish appearance. Alcohol consumption also causes dehydration making the skin appear dull and lifeless.
Over time, chronic alcohol abuse can worsen the physical changes associated with an alcoholic face. This can include the development of broken blood vessels on the face and a puffy or swollen appearance. Chronic alcohol abuse can also lead to liver damage, further exacerbating the physical changes associated with an alcoholic look.
Bingeing and Short-term Sffects of Alcohol on the Face
Alcohol and flushed faces are not uncommon, especially in binge drinking. According to the NHS, binge drinking is drinking more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men and more than six units of alcohol for women. There are many short-term effects of alcohol on the face after bingeing.
- Red face: Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate, making your face red. This can be seen in people who drink large amounts of alcohol over a short period.
- Elevated blood pressure: Regular alcohol consumption can lead to the dilation of blood vessels in the face, which can cause increased blood pressure. This is because alcohol is a vasodilator, which widens blood vessels and allows more blood to flow through them.
- Flushed appearance: When alcohol enters the bloodstream, it dilates capillaries near the skin’s surface, giving a flushed appearance.
- Increased sweating: Alcohol suppresses the parasympathetic nervous system leading to increased sympathetic activity. This causes you to sweat more than average. You might feel clammy and sweaty after a few drinks.
Long-term Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Face
Over the long term, alcohol abuse may worsen alcohol face symptoms. The following symptoms are common;
- Broken capillaries: Long-term alcohol abuse causes the tiny blood vessels on the face to burst. They form broken capillaries and give the face a red, blotchy appearance.
- Yellowing of eyes and skin: Alcohol abuse can cause liver damage. A common symptom of liver damage is jaundice. It is a condition in which the skin and eyes become yellowish.
- Dry, wrinkled skin: Alcohol is a diuretic that can cause dehydration and dry the skin. Over time, this can lead to wrinkles and premature ageing.
- Continuous flushed appearance: Alcohol can cause the blood vessels in the face to dilate or expand, leading to a flushed appearance. Over time, this can become a permanent feature of the face, even when not drinking.
- Ageing more rapidly than usual: Alcohol abuse can also accelerate ageing. The effects we have enumerated all lead to premature skin ageing, such as increased wrinkles and age spots.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse and Its Benefits
The Providence Project upholds a strict policy against stigmatisation and shame. Our goal is to support you in overcoming all the symptoms of alcohol abuse that may affect your health, including those that impact your facial and skin appearance. Our comprehensive approach to treatment facilitates healing from the inside out, promoting your physical well-being and sense of self-worth. Our residential alcohol addiction treatment program includes the following key components:
- Detoxification: This is the first step in treating alcohol abuse. Detoxification can help to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduces the risk of complications.
- Medications: Several medications can help to reduce cravings. They work by lowering your tolerance for alcohol.
- Behavioural therapies: Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you identify and change your drinking behaviours.
- Support groups: Support groups provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for you to share your experiences.
At our comprehensive alcoholism treatment program, we aim to equip you with the necessary resources and skills to overcome stress and other triggers that may lead to alcohol abuse. By reaching out to us for help with alcoholism, you can expect to experience long-term benefits, including:
- Improved physical health
- Enhanced mental health
- Improved mental well-being and overall emotional stability.
- Better relationships
- Increased productivity and financial stability
- increased productivity and improved financial stability.
- Personal growth and self-improvement
- Enhanced self-esteem and confidence.
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Get Healing with Providence Project
Suppose you have noticed symptoms such as a flushed face, dilated facial capillaries, or swollen features that may be related to your drinking. In that case, it is possible that you are struggling with alcoholism. It is not uncommon for friends and family members to notice changes in a person’s appearance as a result of their alcohol use. It is important to address this condition before it worsens.
Our team is here to provide you with free, confidential advice and discuss potential treatment options at our private residential facilities in Bournemouth. We understand that seeking help can be challenging, but we are committed to supporting you every step of the way.
Through our holistic alcoholism treatment programme, we can help you overcome the physical and psychological effects of alcohol addiction. Our residential facilities provide a safe and supportive environment where you can focus on your recovery without distractions or triggers. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help today. Our team is ready to assist you in taking the first steps towards lasting recovery.