28 November, 2018
Drinking Alcohol and Scars
A scar is a permanent mark on your skin that results from an injury that breaks the skin. Over time, scars fade, but most are visible forever. Proper care of the area is an important way to promote healing and helps minimize the appearance of the scar. Drinking alcohol is a lifestyle choice that may interfere with the healing of a scar. In addition, alcohol contributes to liver scarring.
A scar is essentially damaged skin due to a burn, laceration, puncture or cut. Scars also occur with surgery and because of infection, such as chicken pox or acne. Healing typically involves keeping the area covered and applying topical creams and lotions. Once the injury heals, a pink to red patch of skin remains, which fades more effectively and quickly with proper skin care and diet. This includes limiting alcohol intake.
Hydrated skin is an important element of scar healing. Dry skin may prevent a scar from fading and healing of the injury to the area might take longer. Alcoholic drinks are diuretic and drinking too many dries out your skin, according Richard P. Rand, M.D. If you have a fresh scar, alcohol consumption may slow healing and exacerbate the appearance of the scar. Cutting back or eliminating alcohol, combined with any topical treatments prescribed by your doctor, helps the scar to fade and keeps the skin in the area healthy.
Cutting Back on Alcohol
Avoiding or limiting alcohol may aid in scar healing right after the injury occurs. You won't have to worry about your intake for the rest of your life for external scars. In the weeks following an injury that results in a scar, avoid overconsumption of alcoholic drinks as the area works to heal itself. One drink at a time isn't likely to interfere with scar healing, but overdoing it on a regular basis might slow the process and make the scar more visible by damaging your skin. To cut back, ensure that your drink isn't doubled or tripled. A standard alcoholic beverage is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of spirits. If you tend to drink more at home, keep alcohol out of the house for a few weeks while your scar heals. At restaurants, try non-alcoholic versions of your favorite drink.
Cirrhosis is a liver condition characterized by internal scarring of the area and is caused by heavy lifelong alcohol intake. With this type of scar, continuing to drink any amount of alcohol exacerbates the condition and complete avoidance is necessary to prevent additional scarring. Cirrhosis is a leading cause of death in America, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Moderate alcohol consumption, which is one to two drinks per day, allows you to enjoy a cocktail without causing liver scars.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol and Public Health
- Real Self: Does Drinking Alcohol Dry out the Skin?
- BBC Health: What is Binge Drinking?
- MedlinePlus: Scars
- Daily Glow: Scar Treatment: List of What Not To Do
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcoholic Liver Disease
- 5PH/iStock/Getty Images