Sunset Alcohol Flush Support

Why Your Face Turns Red When You Drink Alcohol (and How to Stop it)

Your face turns red when you drink alcohol because of the dilation of blood vessels in the face.  Often referred to as an alcohol flush reaction, this is one of more recognisable signs of an alcohol intolerance and can happen for a variety of reasons.

The human body is a marvellously complex system.  But did you know that our bodies also communicate with us?  Indeed, our bodies can inform us of when an organ is not functioning correctly or when something compromises its flawless performance. 

When your face turns red after you drink alcohol, what does your body want to tell you? Is this a sign that something is wrong?

What is a red face from alcohol telling you?

Intense redness and red flushes on the cheeks (and sometimes on the neck and shoulders) indicates that the body cannot efficiently process the ingested alcohol.  The physical reaction is the body's way of telling us that it is not metabolising alcohol properly, explains Amitava Dasgupta, PhD, a professor in the pathology and laboratory medicine department at The University of Texas Health Science Center.

This flush response (more commonly known as Asian flush) affects more than 50% of East Asians. However, you can also have Asian glow if you are not Asian

Because one of the most common, and most noticeable, symptoms are a red face, many mistakenly confuse it for a skin condition or skin problem. However, a red face from alcohol is far more profound than just at skin-level issue and results from a malfunction in the metabolism of alcohol.

While often handed down through families from generation to generation, the alcohol-related facial redness can happen to those with various skin tones, nationalities and ages.

Woman before and after drinking asian glow

Are there any other symptoms that go with the red face?

A lot of people experience a variety of other effects along with their red faces such as:

A lot of these might sound like hangover symptoms that people experience a day after drinking alcohol. However, for some, these symptoms occur immediately after drinking alcohol. In extreme cases, they can happen after just a few sips.

Check out this video from Chastity Vicencio (@chastity_v) about her experience with turning red from drinking alcohol:

 
 

Why do we get a red face from alcohol?

We know that consuming alcohol affects blood pressure, but that’s not the primary reason why people get a red face when they drink an alcoholic beverage. The actual reason why your face turns red is because of its inability to metabolise certain toxins in alcohol.

When we drink, our body uses the liver to break down and metabolise the alcohol. While it’s doing that, it produces a toxin called acetaldehyde, which is further broken down into non-toxic acetic acid. The acetic acid is eventually broken down into carbon dioxide and water.

For people who go red from alcohol, the process gets paused right after the alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde. This toxin accumulates and takes a long time to get out of the body’s system. As it builds up, it causes unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms before the body can get rid of it.

The proper metabolism of alcohol gets paused because of a defect in liver enzymes. The first enzyme is responsible for turning alcohol into acetaldehyde. Furthermore, the second one converts the acetaldehyde into CO2 and water.

In the case of people who go red from alcohol, both enzymes don’t function properly. The first one works too fast, while the second one does not work at all.

Therefore, the alcohol quickly turns into toxic acetaldehyde and is converted into harmless CO2 and water.

Instead, acetaldehyde accumulates in the body, causing a red face and other symptoms mentioned above.

Not only does this reaction cause uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms, but it also comes with a health risk of accumulating too much toxic acetaldehyde in the body.

“If you are Asian and drink alcohol frequently, you may have a higher risk of getting stomach or oesophageal cancer" or peptic ulcers due to a genetic inability to efficiently process acetaldehyde, a toxic by-product of alcohol metabolism,” explains Dr Tan Ek Khoon, a consultant at the Department of Hepato-pancreato-biliary and Transplant Surgery at Singapore General Hospital.

Like we mentioned before, your body is sending you a clear signal that something is wrong by triggering the red facial flushing.

Man alcohol flushed drinking Guinness beer

How to not go red in the face when you drink alcohol

There is no solution for the underlying genetic cause of these symptoms. However, there are a couple of methods that people commonly use to manage them.

Limit alcohol intake

"If flushing bothers you, and you know alcohol is a trigger, the easiest and most cost-effective solution is to avoid it,” explains dermatologist Alok Vij, MD in an article about alcohol and flushing

Limiting alcohol intake and consuming light-coloured, chilled drinks like white wine or champagne often works well. The risk of blushing will be lower because there will be less alcohol needing to be broken down. 

The cold beverages are also likely to be consumed much slower, allowing the body enough time to process the alcohol.

However, this technique will not get rid of the problem altogether. It may be less intense, but it’s not a solution.

Off-label use of antacids

Some people choose to reduce their red face from alcohol by using antihistamines usually intended to calm stomach acids. However, they are many reasons why this is not a good idea.

Consuming alcohol while using an antihistamine can be dangerous, as they can increase the blood alcohol content. This effect can cause one to get drunk faster than usual.

Even though it might reduce redness, blood alcohol levels will be allowed to rise much higher than usual. Also, antihistamines do not reduce the toxins in your system. Therefore, they will continue to build up while you drink and pose various health risks.

According to the results of the largest alcohol flush reaction survey, 57% of responders tried using an antacid called Pepcid AC to minimise their symptoms.

You can read more here about the risks of using Pepcid AC, Zantac and other antacids for Asian flush.

Supplements

The third way in which you can stop a red face from alcohol is by using supplements that regulate and reverse the flushing.  A good supplement should tackle the problem at 3 levels: 

The first level should work to aid the body’s natural defences against the metabolic toxins that cause your red face.

The second level should provide a robust defence against inflammation. This layer of protection ensures the small number of toxins that slip through don’t cause the blood vessels in your face to react and turn red.

Finally, the compounds necessary for the first two layers of defence to work need to protect against being depleted by the alcohol you consume. This problem requires a third and final layer of protection to counteract alcohol-induced depletion of the body’s flush-fighting compounds and ensure optimal performance of the formula as a whole.

To find out more, you may like this article about the Science Behind Asian Flush Prevention.

Want To Reclaim Your Social Life?

Sunset works to reduce the often embarrassing glow people get when drinking alcohol. It's safe, all-natural, and works better than antacids like Pepcid AC. Give it a try and never worry about flushing again!

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Published on Oct 06, 2017 in category by - Staff writer & alcohol flush specialist @ SRQ Labs

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12 comments

Jun 07, 2019 • Posted by Himanshu Garg

My eyes and face turn red after drinking alcohol

Jun 07, 2019 • Posted by Sarvesh hidadugi

When I drink alcohol my face and eyes is full red and heartbeat is so fast I want to salve this problem tell me what to do

Mar 27, 2019 • Posted by Keith

I don’t suffer many of the symptoms mentioned but I do get a red face and tired eyes. I have Sunset pills now but have heard different info about how they should be taken. Could you please clarify this, thank you.

Mar 27, 2019 • Posted by Dhrubajyoti Athporiah

Me also when a take of one glass of drink my face is turn to red neck back side after 4 to 5 hours slowly tuns in to same position heart beat also fast at that time what is the problem

Mar 19, 2019 • Posted by Jerry john

When I drink one glass wine my
Heartbeat is very fast and I want to
Sleep help me

Mar 12, 2019 • Posted by Ranvir

It started 7 or 8 years back
for example if I drink 10 times I will have a bad reaction eight times very bad headache , Eyes blood red , very fast heart beat Where i can even hear in my head. my neck , chest and arm will turn red. Does the sunset Alcohol flush support have any side effects ? I am at the point where I just want to give up drinking I only drink maybe once or twice month now but It seems to always haveing this really bad reaction when I drink.
Thanks

Feb 13, 2019 • Posted by Abhishek

For me its like poison. I cant drink a glaas of beer also. It give me fast heartbeat. A unpleaasnt smell in my nose. And wverytime i have to go to hospital. Plz help me

Dec 14, 2018 • Posted by Anurag

These symptoms, hits me last year 4-5 times. after that its automatically vanished. But from lat 2-3 day its again came back. How to get rid of this.

Dec 04, 2018 • Posted by willie wainwright

Mine started about a month ago. I like white wine with lots of ice. But now when I drink it my right er goes extreame red and hot. I feel Ike i have hot flashes. I want it to go away.

Dec 04, 2018 • Posted by Dominic

Hi when I drink 1 or 2 glass of alcohol my eyes starts to get red & heart beat gets faster and I get itching on my neak and hands

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