alcoholic with bloodshot eyes

The Most Drastic Effects Alcohol Has on Your Appearance


Sober Recovery Expert Author

alcoholic with bloodshot eyes

Just about everyone at some point in their lives has or will suffer the after-effects of drinking in the form of a hangover. Whether the hangover is light or severe, no one looks forward to the dreaded morning after. However, facing the physical discomfort of a hangover is not the only thing to worry about after consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, most are unaware of the toll heavy drinking can take on one's physical appearance.

Here are some examples of how alcohol consumption deteriorates our physical appearance.

Here are some examples of how alcohol consumption deteriorates our physical appearance.

1. Skin Damage

Alcohol is dehydrating to the skin and deprives it of essential vitamins and nutrients. The physical effects of this appear on the face as broken capillaries, bloat and a reddened complexion among other unattractive manifestations. Alcohol is a common trigger for rosacea and it causes the drinker to blush easily and slowly disfigures the face.

Short-term effects of dehydration on the skin render it less plump and fresh "the morning after." The skin looks dry, sallow and older. The more alcohol and the longer the period of regular, heavy consumption, the more the skin damage.

Besides being an agent for dehydration, alcohol is also a hepatotoxin which means that it’s damaging to the liver. People in the end stages of liver failure have skin that appears pasty and sallow with exceptionally large pores. This is not pretty. Add that to dehydrated skin and the picture is even less attractive.

2. Dry Hair

Alcohol dehydrates the hair as well as the skin leaving it dry and brittle and prone to breakage and split ends. Alcohol abuse can also trigger a zinc deficiency in the body, which is known to cause hair loss.

3. Bloodshot Eyes

In much the same way alcohol causes broken capillaries on the face, it irritates and enlarges the tiny blood vessels in the surface of the eyes, giving the drinker that ugly bloodshot eye appearance. Over time, the bloodshot eyes are the least of the heavy drinker's worries. Excessive drinking robs the body of some of the nutrients necessary for healthy eyes and may result in a condition called optic neuritis. This is far more serious then temporarily unsightly red eyes. It can lead to blindness.

4. Bloating

When the body is deprived of fluids and electrolytes, which happens during and after a long night of drinking, the body stores the water that is drunk in alcohol or eaten in food. The more drinks consumed, the more trips to the bathroom will be necessary. The drinker may also sweat heavily.

When some types of fluids are not replaced, the body retains the water that is still present within it. The unattractive result is a bloated stomach, feet, hands, face and general puffiness in many other areas of the body.

5. Poor Hygiene

After a long night of pub crawling, bad decisions are just waiting to happen - like eating an entire large pepperoni pizza before giving in to the main thing the body cries out for—sleep. There is no desire or energy left to do the nightly ablutions such as washing the face, applying moisturizer or brushing the teeth. This is not really a problem unless it becomes habitual. Should it become so, acne, wrinkled skin, gum disease, and tooth decay can be the result along with other personal hygiene problems such as body odor.

What Types of Alcohol Have the Most Damaging Effects?

Yes, but any of them in excess can cause serious hangovers and damaged looks. Alcohol contains congeners—chemical substances produced during fermentation that add to the unique taste and smell of the different forms of alcohol. The congeners are the major force behind hangovers. the more congeners in your alcohol of choice, the worse your hangover and the worse you will look and feel.

Here is how the different forms of liquor stack up related to the degree of hangover woes that each will cause.

  • Clear shots such as vodka, gin, tequila have the least additives like sugar, salt or other harmful additives. They also contain fewer congeners than the other varieties of liquor.
  • Beer contains salt but not an extreme amount, but overindulgence results in swollen eyes, thirsty skin and a desire to drink a lot of water to get rid of the salt. Beer does somewhat redeem itself because of its antioxidants and low alcohol content.
  • Dark Shots such as rum, whiskey, tequila are also free of additives, but the dark colors make for more congeners than their clear counterparts, thus increasing the hangover symptoms.
  • The perils of mojitos and other sweet alcoholic drinks are in their sugar content. Sugar and carbs cause inflammation that contributes to cell damage and increased skin aging. Sugar also causes acne. So on top of experiencing the regular hangover blues, the possibility looms of also facing a sugar hangover resulting in bloodshot eyes, acne and sallow skin.
  • Margaritas, particularly the frozen varieties made with mixes, contain a lot of sugar. But margaritas deliver a one-two punch because of the salt. Salt leads to bloating. The morning after then looks like bloodshot eyes, sallow skin, and an overall puffy look.
  • White wine also contains sugar and some salt, so it, too, can lead to puffy skin and bloating, but it also makes you hungry. If you drink enough white wine often enough, you can look forward to puffiness in the face and a bloated, fat body along with the hangover.

To the drinker who has had a few, the alcohol may improve the looks of everyone else in the room, but it certainly won’t do anything to improve theirs.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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