Does Alcohol Withdrawal Cause Rash?

Robert Gerchalk

Robert is our health care professional reviewer of this website. He worked for many years in mental health and substance abuse facilities in Florida, as well as in home health (medical and psychiatric), and took care of people with medical and addictions problems at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He has a nursing and business/technology degrees from The Johns Hopkins University.

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Can Alcohol Detox Cause A Rash?

When people who are dependent on alcohol cut down or stop drinking altogether, they may experience the difficult and unpleasant process of alcohol withdrawal. Although most people think of more common symptoms like nausea, tremors, and anxiety, rashes are a skin-related condition that some people experience. Along with looking at other symptoms and treatment possibilities, we’ll investigate the possibility of a link between skin rashes and alcohol withdrawal.


One possible dermatological symptom of alcohol withdrawal is pruritus (itchy skin). Experiencing itchy skin has been linked to the changes that happen in the body during alcohol withdrawal. Some people react to this unpleasant feeling by clawing their skin, which worsens the condition. Scratching can cause skin damage and irritation, even if pruritus doesn’t always result in a visible rash.

Contact Dermatitis

Some people develop contact dermatitis, an irritation of the skin produced by direct contact with a chemical when they’re going through alcohol withdrawal. One possible cause of skin irritation during withdrawal is an increased sensitivity to chemicals. As a consequence, the skin may develop a red, itchy rash in places where it comes into contact with irritants.


Petechiae are tiny red or purple patches that appear on the skin as a result of internal bleeding. People going through alcohol withdrawal, which can trigger changes in blood coagulation and other symptoms, may develop petechiae. However, this is not always the case. It is important to have a medical specialist evaluate this type of rash since it can indicate vascular concerns.


Urticaria, also known as hives, is another skin symptom that sometimes appears during alcohol withdrawal. Hives usually appear as raised, red, itching welts, which can vary in size and form. Stress, which is common during withdrawal, can cause them, or they can be an indication of an allergic response. Anyone suffering from hives should see a doctor to find out what’s causing them and how to treat them.

Eczema or Dermatitis

When you’re already dealing with skin issues like eczema or dermatitis, the stress of alcohol withdrawal can make them worse. If you notice worsening symptoms, it’s essential to speak with your dermatologist right away. 

How to Treat a Rash During Alcohol Withdrawal

When dealing with an alcohol withdrawal rash, it’s important to treat both the skin problem and the withdrawal symptoms. Hydration is essential for the health of your skin. Make sure to consume enough water during withdrawal since dehydration worsens skin troubles. Also, do your best to avoid scratching; it will make the rash worse and can even cause skin damage. To avoid nighttime scratching, trim your nails, and consider wearing cotton gloves to bed.

To alleviate dry, itchy skin, try using a hypoallergenic moisturizer that is fragrance-free. Stay away from anything that can aggravate the skin, especially if it contains strong chemicals or perfumes. Those suffering from hives or itching may find relief with over-the-counter medications. Medication interactions are possible, so it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any new drug.

If you suspect contact dermatitis, it’s important to find out what might cause it and stay away from such things. It may be necessary to alter skin-contacting goods such as personal care items and laundry detergents. Seeking medical consultation is crucial for a correct diagnosis and treatment plan if the rash is severe or persistent.

What Else to Expect During Alcohol Withdrawal

Withdrawal from alcohol can cause a host of physical and mental problems beyond skin-related ones. Here are some additional symptoms that you might experience during alcohol withdrawal.


Among the many symptoms of alcohol withdrawal is a strong desire to drink. Counseling, support groups, and other therapeutic options can help you manage the enhanced desire to drink, which is an important part of recovery.


Dehydration may occur during alcohol withdrawal because of increased perspiration, vomiting, and decreased fluid intake. In addition to sufficient hydration being good for your general health, your skin will reap the benefits of drinking plenty of water.

Sleep Disturbances

During withdrawal, many people have insomnia or disrupted sleep habits. Sleep disruptions can amplify general discomfort and even cause your rash to worsen. 

Delirium Tremens (DTs)

Delirium tremens (DTs) is a condition that may develop in extreme situations. This condition can lead to intense shaking, disorientation, and hallucinations. It is an emergency that requires quick medical intervention.

Mood Swings

When going through withdrawal, it’s normal to experience a wide range of emotions, from sadness to elation. Counseling and emotional support are vital in managing these fluctuations in mood.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

During withdrawal, your heart rate and blood pressure may increase as a result of your body’s stress reaction. It’s critical to keep an eye on your cardiovascular health during this time. The best way to do this is to make regular appointments with an alcohol treatment specialist.


People going through alcohol withdrawal often experience severe headaches. The causes of headaches range from changes in blood flow to dehydration and more. The best way to avoid headaches is to make sure you stay properly hydrated and follow all of your treatment provider’s recommendations. 

Muscle Aches

There are a number of physiological effects of alcohol withdrawal that can lead to muscle pain, such as increased stress on the body, dehydration, changes in blood flow, and so on. Staying hydrated and taking certain medications can help relieve the aches.


The sudden discontinuation of alcohol, which inhibits the central nervous system, might cause seizures as a result of alcohol withdrawal. The effect is on the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which causes an increase in neuronal excitability, which can lead to seizures. People who have a history of excessive alcohol consumption are more likely to have seizures during withdrawal. In order to control and avoid problems, medical monitoring is essential.

Timeline of Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The timeline of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on individual factors, including the level of alcohol dependence. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within six to 24 hours after the last drink. The peak intensity of withdrawal symptoms, including seizures in severe cases, usually occurs within 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms may gradually subside, but psychological symptoms like anxiety and cravings can persist for several weeks.

Best Ways to Treat Alcoholism

Substance abuse disorders like alcoholism have devastating impacts on a person’s emotional and physical well-being. The first step toward healing is acknowledging that you need to seek help. Let’s take a look at the best ways to treat alcoholism.

Inpatient Detox

To effectively manage alcohol withdrawal, inpatient detoxification is a thorough and organized process. Those who are very dependent on alcohol or who are in danger of withdrawal issues will benefit the most from it. To help with the monitoring and management of withdrawal symptoms, inpatient detox programs provide medical supervision around the clock. People going through intense withdrawal must have this for their safety. Medical professionals may prescribe medicine to help with withdrawal symptoms, stop seizures, or treat another medical condition.

People undergoing detoxification sometimes need emotional and psychological assistance, which inpatient programs at treatment centers provide. By removing themselves from potential triggers and distractions, clients in inpatient detox can concentrate entirely on working through withdrawal. Inpatient programs do a great job of providing a seamless transition into rehabilitation or other types of treatment after completing inpatient detox.

Treatment After Detox

After detox, clients usually enter an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. During an inpatient program, you will live at a treatment center. Residential programs may be appropriate for clients who have been drinking for a long time, have tried treatment in the past, or need more structure to prevent relapse. 

During outpatient treatment, clients live at home and can continue going to work or school. These programs may work for people who have not been drinking heavily for long and have a strong support network outside of a treatment center. Clients usually have the option to switch to an inpatient program if they are at risk of relapse.

Whether a person enters an inpatient or outpatient program, they will learn about relapse prevention and develop coping skills to help them maintain a sober lifestyle. They will also attend one-on-one talk therapy sessions to address underlying issues that contributed to their developing alcohol dependence and learn how to deal with triggers that may cause them to want to drink.


Toward the end of an alcohol use disorder treatment program, professionals will work with clients to create an aftercare plan. The plan usually involves ongoing therapy sessions. Many people in recovery also find support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous helpful when striving to maintain a sober lifestyle.

How to Tell if You Need Help for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

The first step toward sobriety is realizing that you have an alcohol problem and need assistance. If you are experiencing any of the signs of AUD below, you may need to seek alcohol treatment. 

Preoccupation With Alcohol

The inability to stop thinking about alcohol or making plans for the next opportunity to drink it is indicative of someone dependent on alcohol. If thinking about alcohol takes up a lot of your time, seeking help is essential. 

Neglecting Responsibilities

One telltale symptom of a serious issue with alcohol is putting drinking ahead of work, family, or personal responsibilities. It is crucial to get treatment if alcohol consumption gets in the way of important tasks.

Increased Tolerance

A frequent symptom of alcohol dependency is the need for more alcohol to achieve the same result, which indicates an increasing tolerance. If you notice yourself needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effect, it’s best to seek treatment right away. 

Drinking as a Coping Mechanism

People will often drink to drown out their feelings or deal with problems. The need to address a dependency becomes apparent when alcohol replaces other coping mechanisms for dealing with life’s difficulties.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Experiencing physical or psychological symptoms when not drinking is a clear sign of alcohol dependence. Fortunately, treatment centers offer detox programs where you can get through alcohol withdrawal safely. 

The Alcohol Awareness Hotline

At Alcohol Awareness, we know how hard it is to find the support you need when you decide to stop drinking because we are recovering alcoholics ourselves.  We make it possible to start a dialogue with a healthcare professional, addiction expert, or support group, which can pave the way to a tailored treatment plan. Alcohol Awareness specializes in providing people with the necessary resources they need for a successful journey on the road to recovery. Call our 24/7 hotline at (855) 955-0771 to get started today.