Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Skin Forum

Asian Flush But Caucasian? (Page 1)

Hello!

I was hoping someone could shed some light on my situation.

As of a few years ago i've been getting a flushed face upon drinking alcohol. My face gets very red and hot and, at its worst, I feel like I have a sunburn (sometimes the reaction is milder). The kickers? It doesn't happen every time I drink alcohol...Perhaps 1/2 to 2/3 of the time. Also, there seems to be no particular alcohol that brings on the flush. I've had it happen with wine, beer and hard liquor. I've also drunk any one of those types of alcohol and had no reaction whatsoever.

As far as I know there is no asian blood in my family. What what I have always been told is, my dad was the product of the union between a full-blooded italian (my grandmother) and a full-blooded irishman (my grandfather). My mom is supposedly from german, french, irish and italian decent.

I've finally met another caucasian woman with close to the same situation, but it happens every time she drinks (and it affects her neck as well as her face) and it has happened to her from the very first time she ever had a drink. (i think she is in her early 30's). Like I said, this only started for me a few years ago (2 1/2 - 3 I would guess) and I am 42!

If anyone has any input, ideas, comments, please respond.

Thank you!
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First Helper Dcdon
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replied January 22nd, 2006
Active User, very eHealthy
That isn't an asian thing...It's an allergic reaction to the alcohol...And you don't have to be asian to get it..A lot of people from other cultures get it...Be it white, black, asian, native, etc. There is nothing you can do about it, it just happens.
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replied December 16th, 2011
Redness is caused by dehydration
I have the same problem. I link the condition to being dehydrated. I only get red in the face/neck/upper body when I've had chinese food for lunch or other salty foods. Also, if I got drunk the night before, nursed the hangover then begin to drink again before completely rehydrating I get red again. Make sure you're completely hydrated before going out and avoid foods very high in sodium as water follows salt and inadequate water intake with high salt diets can cause dehydration. I'm 26, white, and a nursing student. Take a break from the booze and drink some water if you get red, it's been working for me for about 4 years. PS: I only get red about 1/5 of the times I drink. Hope this helps.
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replied February 10th, 2018
flushing is real !
Hey man ! i know this is an old post (7 years old )...but same damn thing with me ! I'm 27 years old,Male,and it only happens after eating something like chinese food,chicken & noodles,salty or really meaty foods too. and my flushing only happens every so many days on and off...i could binge drink for a couple days and then BAM ! Hits me like a ton of bricks.....it makes sense now...didn't drink any water today,only coffee and ate homemade chicken and noodles with mash potatoes.
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replied January 22nd, 2006
If it is simply an allergic reaction why doesn't it happen every time? Why can I drink wine one day with no problem and the next drink the exact same wine (from the same bottle) and have a reaction. It just seems very odd.

I will mention it to my doctor, in fact I keep meaning to mention it to her and then I forget. You also get forgetful after you have babies and turn 40! ;)

i've written it down so when I go to the doc next month I will remember to mention it.

Thanks!
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replied September 9th, 2008
Asian Flush on a white girl
From what I've been reading and understand on the topic it is either an allergy to yeast or sulphates. Dependant on the type of wine that you drink this could be causing flush issues, I've even known people who can drink oaked wines but not unoaked wines. I findmy biggest skin alterations come from wines that are more chemically induced. The cleaner or more natural the less visual effect it has on my body. The best defense I've had without the embarassment of my instant sunburn look is to layer on the cover up on my face and chest before a night of drink and while I'm out. I hate having some idiot comments on my "sunburn" which dependant on my mood or # of glasses I may play along!
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replied February 27th, 2009
Advice
Take 2-3 maximum strength Pepcid AC (or generic Famotidine 20mg) about an hour before drinking, preferably on an empty stomach. See if that helps.

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replied March 30th, 2009
Another Asian Flush White Girl
I have recently been researching some on the ALDH2 deficiency which causes Asian Flush and have been very concerned (as a long time drinker) about its strong link to esophageal cancer. How likely is it that we caucasians are experiencing an allergic reaction as opposed to having this inability to break down the alcohol as many asians do?
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replied June 15th, 2009
Yet another Caucasian girl with Asian flush
Me too - I'm caucasian and I get the red splotchy face, etc. It's sporadic and does not depend on the type of alcohol. Also doesn't depend on how much I drink. Happened during college then it quit. Now I'm 38 and it started happening after I gave birth to my third child. Any relation to hormones? Or ALDH2? And I don't understand the ALDH2 study - how do I develop a tolerance so that my face doesn't always blush? Doesn't that mean that I am producing enough enzyme most of the time?
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replied October 2nd, 2009
Asian flush curse !!
its such a relief to now know wat this curse is !! i have suuffered on nites out /girls holliday etc for many years sporadically.Mostly on the second consecutive nite of drinking this happens but i have to leave the party and go home Sad,and i Hate missing out! lol.I am caucasion too with no one in my family complaining of same curse.I have asked my doctor but he was bemused by the Asian flush and told me i could spend the next 40yrs getting tests done to verify that i have it. So no resolution ,no cure just a boring cup of tea for me Sad .Trouble is no one has heard of this and so my friends just think i am a party pooper !! lol
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replied January 24th, 2010
"Asian Flush." in whites
yes I am a white woman, aged 38 and Ive had this for as long as I can remember. Again it is sporadic and usually will occur after too many nights of drinking (even small amounts!). I think that the answer is that I need to cut down on my consumption. I must be missing the gene that helps break it down. I recently had my gall bladder removed and I wonder if the chronic damage to it is connected.

So here I go! I will limit my drinking and hopefully reap all the health benefits to go with it!
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replied January 24th, 2010
"Asian Flush." in whites
yes I am a white woman, aged 38 and Ive had this for as long as I can remember. Again it is sporadic and usually will occur after too many nights of drinking (even small amounts!). I think that the answer is that I need to cut down on my consumption. I must be missing the gene that helps break it down. I recently had my gall bladder removed and I wonder if the chronic damage to it is connected. Sometimes it doesn't affect me at all.

So here I go! I will limit my drinking and hopefully reap all the health benefits to go with it! It would be interesting to find ut some expert advice.
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replied April 1st, 2010
One more caucasian female with an allergic response to alcohol
I''m 34 (Caucasian - female - distant Irish and Scottish roots.)
My face glows bright red if I have even a few sips of hard alcohol. (Like a previous post it also feels like I have a sunburn without the pain on my face.)
I do, however, get a very INTENSE pain in my upper abdomen that starts after I finished about half a drink. It usually lasts for about 15 - 20 minutes and then goes away.

I simply don''t drink mixed drinks at all anymore...

but, unlike almost everything else that I have read, I can drink red wine without a problem ? It certainly feels like an allergy to strong liquors - and I have no idea why wine would be different. My brother also seems to have an intolerance to alcohol. Must be genetic ? We had alcoholic grandparents, maybe nature finally kicked in a "stop drinking" gene. Smile
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replied May 17th, 2010
Turning Red With Alcohol READ AND READ GOOD
Hey im a 23 year old male Caucasian (German,Scotish, Irish, little bit of English and a little bit of Egyptian decent) researched my family history,ha. Anyways i've been drinking since i was 18, got pretty hardcore into but majorly slowed down since then. To the point, I didn't start to get the red blotchy weird till i got a couple large scars, then i started noticing they would turn red after about 5 beers, even before 5 beers a pale red, but full out drinking one day ill have red head to chest and the next day i wont. I usually drink about 5 a day but no more and most times less. Haven't had the reaction in awhile cause my doctor said my billi reuben level was at a 5 (when i was drinking way more than 5 a day). But now all the sudden i started having small reactions again and i don't drink anywhere near the amount that i used to. It takes three months for your liver to heal fully from what my doctor said and then she said it might be an allergic reaction to the sullphates in the alcohol. and i went 5 months without drinking. I have heard of a beer that has way less sullphates in it than others, so maybe that's the direction we can fight this monster of turning our skin red crimson style,haha. Im def. gonna try the peptid thing though to see if that works, and as for throat cancer involved in this i find that incredibly ridiculous, anything these days causes cancer, whether it be food or deoderant cause of the additives, but alcohol has pretty much stayed the same except for flavoring. I once knew a girl that got throat cancer and she never drank or smoked thats all about what you put into your head, some people do accumulate cancer and other problems though from alcohol and cigarettes but the major killer that everyone still doesnt realize is STRESS, DONT STRESS SO MUCH and you wont turn them cancer cells on in your body, you ask any doctor and they will say the same things, the more STRESS the LESS time you have in this world. Ive done a ton of research and all i find is stuff on the asian flush which that is def. what most people here dont have, it has to be an allergic reaction caused by the sullphates,or you just drink to damn much and need to get your liver checked like i did by a doctor. i will get back to you with the name of that beer, i hear its pretty tasty,haha (jk). Have them check your billi reuben level through blood tests to make sure your not gonna go jondas or however thats spelled. some peoples bodies are stronger than others with alcohol, just make sure its not a serious condition, see a doctor!
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replied June 16th, 2010
It's very easy to get worked up about these things and point to liver damage and all the rest.

However, the liver's enzymes only have a maximum rate of breaking down alcohol. Drink too quickly (i.e. above the liver's enzymes' capabilities) and you'll see similar side-effects to those who lack the ability to break it down.

I hope this makes sense.

Medical student, UK.
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Users who thank jprue for this post: jhc485 

replied September 5th, 2010
The flush in my face burns with intense pain
I am 49 and I have had alcohol flush reaction since I was around 24. I am of German/Irish heritage. I will have a drink and within a few minutes my face starts to hurt and then burn. It is the worse pain that I've ever felt in my whole face. It will usually last about an hour or so. I don't drink that often, but I am starting to think that on the times when this flush doesn't happen, I have had something like bread or crackers in my stomach.
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replied March 11th, 2011
There's quite a bit of misinformation floating around here. Asian flush and an alcohol allergy are two different things. Asian flush is the inability to break down acetaldehyde because of a lack of the ALDH2 enzyme. Alcohol allergy is like most allergies, a super-dose of histamines. The symptoms are similar, but the reasons are different. As for the irregularity of the reaction, both are possible. Most alcohol allergies aren't to the alcohol itself, but the things in the alcohol like sulphites or fruit. Asian flush also comes and goes depending on what you've eaten, the amount of, and kind of alcohol you drink.
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replied August 16th, 2011
I totally agree with 7286nate in his explanation of what Asian flush is about. Another misconception of this condition is that it only affects Asians. That's not always true. It affects non-Asians as well, just not as common. So if you're not Asian and experiencing symptoms of Asian flush, red face, flushing, sunburn feeling, maybe nausea, rapid heart-beat... If it bothers you a lot, I would see your doctor and run some tests. It is not good to continue drinking and experience these symptoms long term. It has a lot of info on Asian Flush remedies.
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replied September 24th, 2011
Asian Flush versus allergy
For the record, White, male. My case is as follows: I started drinking at about 14-15 years old.

Every Friday and Saturday at that time, but quite a lot. Never had a reaction. Drank more at university. No reaction. Moved to Prague in the 1990s (while I was in my 20s) and would get occasional bright red flushing on face, arms and body combined with mild breathing problems -- probably about one in every 10 times I would go out drinking, which was pretty much every day -- beer mainly, but also spirits.

It also seemed more common after eating fatty foods. Now (I no longer live in Prague) I drink every day but never have this reaction.

I'm thinking that it could have been an allergy to a cleaning agent in the beer pipes, or something particular about the local diet.

That would seem more likely than Asian Flush since I went years not having it and then it just came on. If its genetic it would be there at the start, though allergies can develop spontaneously and, of course, a change in environment can be the real cause of the reaction.

Thoughts?
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replied September 28th, 2011
I'm 24 caucasion and I began drinking in high school. I went away to college and drank a lot at least 3 days a week. In college I rarely had a reaction but it has been getting worse and worse. I know when I am about to break out in red, blotchy rashed all over my face, neck, and chest because I get this weird, unique taste in my throat. I always tell my friends "here comes my drunk freckles". I have not tried the antacids yet but it only happens about 10% of the time I drink. Every time it happens I have noticed that my urine is not a clear white color. If I am drinking and it I break out, my urine is yellowish. Ever since I drink lots of water before drinking (until my urine is clear), I am much less likely to break out. I know it sounds weird but I part of it is linked to being hydrated. There have been times that I break out and I chug a ton of water and it clears up. Just try the water idea before you drink and you might be surprised how well it works. Good luck, we all need it.
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replied May 3rd, 2012
There might be a cure for this
This is EXACTLY how it is for me too! I'm 100% white, Nordic to be specific. I have had this problem for as long as I've been drinking, which is about 25 years now. Long time ago I found the same relief to this reaction that you have found, but it doesn't work all the time, does it? I can pretty much control it with the water consumption and all, but especially the second night on the row of going out is though for me. I would say that getting it the second night is almost 50% sure, with or w/o massive water intake.

All that having been said, I think I have finally narrowed down the mechanism and reason for this type of reacting. I'm almost certain I have more or less durable cure for it. Post your email and I will share my thoughts with you.
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replied May 8th, 2012
Hi RogueFenni127, interested to know what your cure is, please email
Thanks!
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replied December 12th, 2011
asian flush
I have the exact problem. Started a couple years ago, at the age of about 33. I now take a Benadryl before drinking and I don't get red anymore.
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replied February 2nd, 2012
33 male caucasian, don't take it with a grain of salt.
33 male Caucasian here.

I also get this reaction, I have yet to notice a pattern of any sort, other than the ingestion of alcoholic beverages. I mainly wanted to chime in about the possibility of a link between esophogeal cancer and asian flush, the inability to process acetaldehyde efficiently. Do a quick google search "esophogeal asian flush."

Educate yourself. Don't fall prey to anything anyone tells you. Yes cancer and the causes of it are ubiquitous, this does not mean that you should scoff at walking into a room full of benzene fumes (a non-related extremely carcinogenic chemical) or as a contrast, spend every waking moment of your life studying how not to get cancer, but rather, investigate for yourself and ask those who might be more knowledgeable than those who come to a thread such as this. It may or may not be what it seems to be, and something as simple as taking a brief moment out of your life to find out the truth could add decades to your life. Whether living for a few decades or not is a good thing is up for debate, depending on what happens in that time frame.

When it comes to my health I'd put far more credence in a controlled scientific study than a random person here telling me that their particular situation is probably whats going on with me or that I should just shrug it off because we all die and cancer can be caused by everything. Imagine having to sustain yourself via food passing over the cancerous growth in your esophagus and being told that you have a less than or equal to 10% chance of survival from this type of cancer all the while, I'd be a bit more worried about this possibility than worrying being the cause of cancer, as was mentioned above by mrkitestree, and yes, if you're worried, follow his advice and see a doctor. Sometimes it's ok to worry a little.

Edit: My face gets hot, I can hear my heart beat in my head in varying intervals, my heart beats faster, places where my cat nibbled on my arms turn red, or scars and wounds anywhere on my body turn red, I'm more prone to feeling more itchy, my eyes become dry and red, I get a sense of my nose being somewhat stuffy.

Edit#2: There is some truth in being able to prevent this flushing via certain antacids, feel free to look it up, however, its been noted that counteracting this reaction can increase your chance for problems down the road. In which case a balancing of pros and cons would be in order.
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replied April 8th, 2012
I'm Caucasian and turn red after alcohol
I'm half Italian and Irish/german. I used to get that blotchy red look all the time when I first started drinking. Just like you it was only sometimes. I could not figure out why I turned red only sometimes! Well I figured it out finally! I don't know why but for me if I mix a sugary drink with hard liqure or eat desert I will get blotchy red! But if I mix the alcohol with diet drinks I don't turn red! Wierd I know but that's just me. I'm curious if other people experience the same thing
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