Beer tan – why does booze make us blush?

Dear Dr. Mo: Why do people get beer tan?

Beer makes you blush

Beer makes you blush

Dear reader: We see these people every day – at times, we are those people; also called drunkard or boozed out or, more telling – a red face.

It’s one of those properties of alcohol for which, taken only in moderation, it is known to have actual health benefits. Well, in case of beer tans, we are no longer talking about moderation and any potential benefits are long gone.

What alcohol does is what’s called a ‘vaso-dilatation’ – it dilates our peripheral blood vessels making our blood more present on the periphery which can drop our blood pressure and reduce resistance to blood flow in general: these effects can yield some health benefits over time for older adults and heart disease patients but only if they take alcohol in very moderate amounts.

Beer tan is a consequence of alcohol’s ability to dilate small, peripheral blood vessels – once we’ve had enough of the stuff, blood rushes into dilated blood vessels in our face and tans our face red so we look like someone who’s had one too many sessions in a tanning bed.

If you can get away with slurred speech, you may talk people into believing you’ve just had too much tanning. (Just remember, drink plenty of water BEFORE going to sleep, to avoid severe hangover and headache, which are mostly due to alcohol’s ability do dehydrate us).

Yours in health and drink,

Dr. Mo