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Skin Pain After Drinking Alcohol

First a little about myself:
I am a 28 year old female in relatively good shape and health.  I drink maybe once a week and excessively once a month.  I don’t take any medications (even Advil) regularly and I am not of Asian descent.  About a year ago after heavy drinking I started to notice that my body hurt.  Not the usually kind of hurt that would be associated with drinking, like falling or overexerting one’s body.  This is more like my skin hurts, it does not feel like my muscles, bones, or joints, it literally hurts to be touched.  The pain is primarily above my torso.  I usually notice it on my neck first, then my shoulders, chest, etc.  The pain usually starts the next evening and then last for a couple of days.  I have been a social drinker for years now and like I said this developed only about a year ago.  I have tried to research this online and while I know I am not alone with these symptoms, I cannot find a diagnosis that fits my symptoms.   I realize allergies can change, but this seems unlikely to me.  Alcoholic Myopathy seems unlikely because of it’s slow onset, it doesn’t feel like it’s targeting the muscles, and my legs are fine.  Also because of its onset and family history I am excluding Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Please let me know if you think I am prematurely ruling any of these diagnoses or if there is another option I am unaware of.   I don’t mind going to the doctor, but with something like this I believe I will just be told to stop drinking, and I am looking for an actual reason.  Also, I apologize because I had no idea which forum this fits into. I would love to hear any thoughts.  Thank you!
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Avatar universal
Hi, I'm a 42 year old female no weight issues and have suffered this tenderness the day after drinking for a good few years ...so here is what I found out ....the lymphatic system is what is likely causing the pain ...when you consume alcohol it suppresses parts of your nervous system...the lymphatic systems relies on nerve responses to ensure fluid flow through the body (amongst other things...muscles etc) ...alcohol is also a diaretic...meaning due to dehydration extra fluid is released by the kidneys and the lymphatic system to flush away toxins from the alcohol...eliminating this through urine, bowel movements ..the skin (sweating) ...neck and shoulder pain  caused by swelling in the lymph nodes is common and recognised with people who abuse or have an addiction to alcohol...lymph nodes become irritated and inflamed when overloaded in this way ...(congested) ..when the system has cleared the toxin (usually 24-48 hours after heavy drinking) the inflamation subsides....so does the tenderness ...I believe it is and overloaded lymphatic system that causes this tenderness....sooo how to solve the issue ...the obvious is don't overload the system ...avoid excessive alcohol consumption, ensure you are properly hydrated ...drink alcohol with a meal...body brushing (obvs not when your tender) ....recovery...warm compress on the tender area ...plenty of water and move! Don't lie about ...your lymphatic system needs the muscles to help it ...(probs why it's mostly felt the evening after ...when you likely move less) good nights sleep before and after alcohol ....ok...thats all I've got ...I will keep following to see if anyone comes up with anything else xxx
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This is such a concise and helpful response, it completely makes sense. I feel so reassured knowing it’s just my body’s way of responding to booze and nothing sinister! Thanks for taking the time to share your findings xx
Avatar universal
My ladies! I have news!!! I think I HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER!!!!! I am so thrilled to share this because it has been 20 years of search ...and pain, to the point that I decided not to drink at all, until a friend offered me a little bottle of beer this last December. I thought it was so small it would be just "that harmless little one"... Wrong! Worst pain ever, all over my skin (neck, torso, part, of the arms, buttocks and thighs). I restarted my search and currently correctly lead by a dietitian, IT IS CALLED HISTAMINE SENSITIVITY, there are lots of foods that triggers it, but guess which is the worst? Red wine, followed by beers, and the list goes on and on... please do yourselves a favor and check it out in the internet to see if you relate with the other symptoms and triggers... for me it is a total match. Hope this was helpful for others. With all my <3 I wish you all find answer and good health!
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2 Comments
Hi there MCeciliaP. Thanks so much for your input.  Much appreciated.  I think you are completely accurate with your information although all should talk to their own doctor about this.  Here is an article on the topic. https://www.verywellhealth.com/histamine-intolerance-1324016  Thank you very much for stopping by and we hope to see you around the forums helping others.  
Indeed! Never thought otherwise! Just spreading the awareness about this condition will definitely help others, so they don't have to go decades bouncing around doctor's offices without having a clue of what is going on, like happened to me. By fact that's how I found this forum, in the depths of desperation and pain, seeking for an answer. And I was truly thankful to find people who understood me, so when I finally found something that made sense immediately reminded to pass by and leave the information for others, as I saw there were no clear clues about the symptom for years here as well. Neither I say the clue I give has to be "fit for all" but even if I only get to help one person, it will be worthwhile!
Avatar universal
Wow it's quite unbelievable to read all these responses - this is literally the only place I've ever found where people seem to have the exact same thing as me! I'm a 27 year old white British female in very good health, and for at least 3-4 years now I've experienced this strange pain after drinking alcohol. I'm not a heavy or regular drinker, but will have a couple of beers with friends once or twice a week. This 'normal' consumption of alcohol doesn't trigger the pain, it only comes on when I've had more than more usual amount and is coupled with going to bed late / being hungover.

The first time I noticed it was about 3 years ago, when I had the worst hangover of my life (after drinking 1.5 bottles of wine - which I don't normally drink) about 24 hours after I started drinking, my neck got really tender and I can only compare the sensation to having swollen glands. As I mentioned, I was horribly hungover in this instance so just assumed it was a bad hangover symptom.

Since then, it doesn't happen super regularly, but I can pretty much count on it that every time I have a heavier drinking session or drink anything more than my normal couple of beers / ciders and don't sleep much, the day after the pain will start in my neck and sometimes travel down my back, sides, shoulders and chest. It appears to follow the course of the lymphatic system from what I can tell. I feel so sensitive - it's like someone has poked me all over really hard and this sensation worsens until I eventually go to bed in the evening and sleep it off. It's usually more or less gone the next day.

I didn't think anything of it (just presumed it was a weird hangover thing) until two days ago when it was the worst it's ever been. The day before I'd drunk about 4 beers and 2 vodka lime and sodas, which is quite a lot for me. The pain started building the next afternoon (around 24 hours after I'd started drinking) and by evening i was extremely sore. My partner walked past me and lightly touched my shoulder, and even that was like 'ouch'. I googled it out of curiosity and immediately found threads on Hodgkins disease. I'm a big overthinker so haven't stopped panicking since that this is what is causing my issue. I went to the doctor yesterday and as soon as I mentioned alcohol-related pain, she looked worried and asked if I'd had any other symptoms relating to Hodgkins. The only other symptom I've had is waking up covered in sweat twice in the last month, which I couldn't really explain. She's booked me for blood tests so we'll see what they come back with.

What is interesting is that the typical Hodgkins alcohol-related symptoms seems to be related to immediate pain after drinking alcohol, in the shoulder and neck. This is different to what we are all talking about, because I feel fine when I'm drinking and don't start feeling the pain until late in the next day - which seems to tally with all your experiences too. I also know that when I drink normally (in moderation) I don't feel anything the next day, it's just coupled with the tiredness / excessive drinking that the tenderness comes out.

I must say I do feel a bit more relieved now I know there are other people who know what this pain feels like. I will keep you posted on what the blood tests reveal and look forward to keeping up with other people's experiences here.
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4 Comments
Wow I’ve been following this thread for years and so many comments have been relatable but I feel that yours comment was taken straight out of my brain!!! Thank you so much for sharing and please do keep us posted about the bloodwork. I have the same exact symptoms as you and also will occasionally wake up with night sweats. It happens almost every time I get the pain after drinking. The feeling starts about 24 hours after my first drink and goes away after I sweat it out in my sleep. Those nights I wake up DRENCHED. Figured it had some sort of correlation. Also have researched the lymphatic system theory as well. But still haven’t found any solid answers! It drives me insane not knowing, but comforting that others experience it too!
Oh it really is a bit of a relief to hear that your experiences are so similar to mine! Thanks for taking the time to respond to me! I honestly thought I was going crazy when I started to read a bit into it, I convinced myself it was something really bad but maybe it's not as abnormal as we think? I spoke to my friend about it last night and she said she also gets the tender glands sensation when she's had a heavy sesh, definitely not the all over pain that we get but similar? It's just such a weird sensation - like toxins trying to clear themselves out or something.. So odd! Do you find that yours is triggered by any drinks in particular? I think for me it seems to be spirits or wine? or just general excess perhaps. not sure about you but in general I find I'm quite sensitive to things, like if I'm tired or hungry I can't function properly, and I get affected by things like caffeine way more than normal people. So not sure if it's just some sensitivity issue?anyway, hopefully between us we can get some answers or else just accept we have this weird 'thing' forevermore! I will def keep you posted on my blood work at any rate, fingers crossed it's all ok x
Hi again! As promised I wanted to let you know I had my blood test results back and all is completely normal and healthy! Super relieved and happy to know there is nothing mental going on inside me! Please check out @Auntyjenjen79 recent comment as I think this is exactly what we are all experiencing xx
That's great news and a big relief defo ....disclaimer ...im not a medical person ...and the lymphatic system is very complicated haha ...but if you have a Google about how I works in general when it comes across a virus for example...like a cold ...your lymph nodes kick into action ...swell and become tender (immune response) ...my thinking is that this is what it does when there is too much alcohol in there ...then look at the effects of alcohol on your body ...the lymphatic system works with circulation to help your organs and cells rid the toxic stuff ...overload it and its going to hurt! .....just to add my fiance (male 45) suffers the same issue after heavy drinking ...so not sure its just a female thing ...just a body thing xxx
Avatar universal
I’m 48 and it’s been happening for a few years now. I’m in perfect health otherwise, no allergies or health issues whatsoever. I eat super healthy and workout. Just had 2 glasses of red wine and a few gin & club sofas (no sugar) last night & 24 hours later my upper body skin  is painful to touch, mostly in neck, face, arms & chest. What the hell is this?!?  Feels like lymph nodes are swollen but why and why so painful?!
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Avatar universal
Hi. I am a 37-year old caucasian female and I have been experiencing exactly those kind of bruise-like aches as well everytime I drink a certain amount of alcohol (not if I only have one glass). The pain is mainly on my neck and shoulders, but sometimes also the upper part of my back and lately it expands towards my front side as well (above my breasts). I’ve had one occasion were it was really bad and the skin on my arms, tummy and legs ached as well. It starts about 18-24h after drinking and lasts about 2 days. It started a few years ago, I can’t recall when exactly. It was very clear to me from the beginning that it is related to alcohol consumption as I only felt this after nights of partying or rather heavy drinking. I don’t have it when I drink just one or perhaps two glasses. It does indeed feel as if my skin is trying to get rid of toxins.

I am not allergic to anything as far as I know. I am not on medication. I consider myself as fairly healthy living, I excersice regularly, I try to sleep enoug, I have normal weight. With me, it only occurs after drinking, not when I have other sugarloaded foods or drinks, neither during my period.

No one else I talked to had expercienced this or knows someone who does… I googled a few times to find answers - without any results - so it is a relief to find others experiencing the same! I was a little worried it might be related to cancer… I was diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) earlier this year, which was removed and nothing else was found. My blood was taken a month ago and everything came up normal. So I guess this has nothing to do with it (although I'm fully aware that alcohol is in fact toxic and related to cancers).
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1 Comments
Well, it does sound terrible.  I personally think the easy answer is to not drink more than 2 glasses.  Then the discomfort is completely avIoided.  Kind of like when you love a certain food but it gives you stomach pain every time you eat it. Eventually, you probably eliminate it from your diet. It also does sound very specific such as sugar loaded foods/drinks and menstruation playing some type of role. In reading through this thread, I see many suffer 'something' similar so am surprised there is not more information on it!
Avatar universal
I am a 24 yo female and I also experience this superficial soreness, mostly over my torso,  ~ 12 hours after overindulging in alcohol and/or sweets. I am also a medical student (MD pending in 1.5 years!), and most of the physicians I've worked with haven't had answers for these symptoms when I've voiced them. I agree with the above suggestions that the pain is likely a result of both accumulation of toxic metabolites (most likely carbohydrate breakdown products/sugar alcohols) and fluid shifts/water retention into/out of the subcutaneous tissue. I disagree that this is related to fibromyalgia (a poorly understood condition related to "hyperactive" pain reception in both the peripheral and central nervous systems), mostly given the highly predictable onset after consumption of alcohol or other sugars and resolution after a day or so. Also, fibromyalgia pain is most classically muscular/articular (joints) in origin. The good news is, I see that several folks have had unremarkable lab workups - this rules out what I was most concerned about (diabetes causing inadequate sugar metabolism or kidney/liver failure causing inadequate clearance of toxins). Although it's frustrating, we likely don't have answers because this is a fairly benign condition (that is, unlikely to kill us or land us in the hospital). I'm interested in Endocrinology and Metabolism as a future career, so my dream is to do a more controlled study with people who experience this. It would likely involve extensive bloodwork and clinical examination (things like blood pressure, weight, temperature, location of pain, etc. - maybe even biopsy?) both before symptom onset, during, and after resolution. Even then, it's highly likely we wouldn't get clear answers. At this point, I'm disappointed to say our best bet is cutting back/eliminating alcohol and excessive sugar intake.
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3 Comments
I'm curious - if you feel comfortable, could you reply to this with your BMI? I'm asking this in a completely non-judgmental manner. My thought (a very poorly formed thought, at this point) is perhaps thinner people experience this more often because of a larger surface area to volume ratio. My BMI is 20.5.
I can't see how BMI would be involved.  But I can see how a blood sugar problem could be involved.  I can see how an odd allergic reaction to alcohol could be involved.  By the way, fibromyalgia is a very complex disease and it isn't just muscle and joint pain or just pain of any kind.  It also involves severe fatigue, brain fog, often mental issues, and a host of other problems.  It's never just pain.  It also couldn't be liver or kidney failure, as those are extreme conditions that wouldn't create symptoms that just go away, they would result in severe chronic problems.  I don't have any idea why this occurs, but I'm going with the peculiarities of the human body.  Everyone has something odd about them.  We're all different.  If you have a bad reaction to drinking, don't drink.  Peace, all.
kcarbie - I can’t believe that so many people suffer from this! Literally been like this for 14 years now (I’m 30) and I don’t now anyone else who gets it. My friends and family have always looked at me like I’m mad or thought I was just being soft! Which I’m not. Ha.
I wondered about the weight thing too, but I’m a little heavier than usual and hurting so much right now. (It’s Tuesday and I drank fairly heavily or Saturday). It’s a shame there’s no clean cut answer yet it seems - apart form it being about sugar. I will check my BMI and get back on here.

Paxile - although I am glad it’s so clean cut for you ‘bad reaction - don’t drink’ … it’s not that simple. Especially when sometimes it doesn’t happen. And it’s to a different degree often too. Also, you sound really judgmental and patronising there to be honest. I’m addition - kcarbie didn’t say that these were the ONLY fibromyalgia symptoms. Just often.

Thanks.  
Avatar universal
I am a 44 year old female and have been suffering these same symptoms for 5-6 years. It always appears about 12-24 hours after hard drinking. I work out hard 6 days a week and eat very clean. I only drink heavily about 2-3 times a year and I only have the symptoms after drinking alcohol. I’m just so happy that I’m not alone. Following in case someone gets some answers.
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Avatar universal
Hi, I am a 28 year old female and have exactly the same as this. When I asked my boyfriend if he ever experienced this he looked at me as if I was mad. I have it right now, and am so tender that even when  I ran down the stairs earlier, where some of me wobbles it was so painful and tender. It literally feels like I am bruised all over and that it is a surface thing. It has happened two to three times now after a heavy night of drinking, and yes sets in about 24 hours after. I am so relieved that I am not the only one...especially as my little health anxiety brain is trying to convince me that its more sinister! Afraid I don't know what it is either, but fibromyalgia makes sense to me, as I have suffered from auto immune diseases in the past due to toxins.
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Avatar universal
Hello, another 36yo female sufferer here, started in my mid 20s. For me, it always comes on 24hrs after my first drink and lasts for another 24hrs.

So tender and painful that it puts me off drinking…! Noticed it’s only around my lymph nodes - neck, chest, back of arms..

Following incase someone has an answer. NZ-based.
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Avatar universal
I am a 26 year old female and I experience exactly the same and have done for the last 5 years at least, maybe longer but I can’t remember!
I can’t believe so many of us suffer from the same thing yet we have absolutely no idea why it’s happening. I have spoken to my dr about it once but he looked at me like I was mad so I never brought it up again!
Interesting that the majority of us are female too.
Will definitely be following this forum to see if anyone ever gets an answer.
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Avatar universal
I’m also having these issues and have for a couple years. This thread is all I can find on the internet about it. Has anyone found an answer?! I would love to know why this is happening.
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Avatar universal
I'm a 29 year old male, and over the last couple years, I've noticed the same symptoms. I had no idea what it was, but I suppose fibromyalgia is a possibility since my mom has suffered from it for over a decade. Fibromyalgia would also help to explain why there aren't more men in this thread, since fewer men suffer from it.
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Avatar universal
i’m a 22 year old women and have the exact same thing as everyone’s been describing. pain on the skin almost feel bruised, can happen about 12-36 hours after drinking. pain on abdomen,hips,sometimes arms and neck. I have been tested for celiac which was negative and had a scan of my gallbladder with nothing showing up.  

not sure if this is related but i also got pancreatitis last year after 2 drinks but the doctors could not figure out what caused that either. i am not a heavy drinker because of the pain and pain in am a healthy weight.
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Avatar universal
I am a 23 year old female. I would say I am in good shape. After drinking alcohol (mainly vodka and Diet Coke) I get the ‘bruised’ feeling 24 hours after. I get this in my neck, face and chest. This usually has gone off after a further 24 hours. I have had bloods done and also a chest x ray but all comes back normal. I don’t know what to do next. I have a worry it may be Hodgkin’s lymphoma due to researching on the internet and I am looking into getting tested for this. Has anyone had any luck finding out what this could be?
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2 Comments
I have been  looking into this as I really want to get to the bottom of what this could be. I believe this started for me after I got breast implants and I have been looking into BII which can cause a lot of problems. Just wondering if anyone else has had breast surgery and experiences this? (This forum seems to be all female) Just trying to rule out any possibility…
I get the alcohol bruised skin feeling. The only other thing that gives me the same symptoms is a general anesthesia. Maybe that’s why you got it after your implants?
Avatar universal
Just like all of you ladies, I have the same thing. After a night of moderate to heavy drinking especially if a couple nights in a row, I wake up with the super bruised torso/ stomach area. Sometimes it’s bad and is on my shoulders and neck as well. No answers ever- this thread is the closest I’ve seen to anyone knowing what’s going on so I will continue to follow! :)
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Avatar universal
I am a 33 year old female and have been experiencing this pain since 2012 (I have it right now too as I type this, after having 3 Angry Orchard ciders yesterday over the course of 8 hours! Not much if you think about it. And they day before I had one gluten-free beer). It took me years to make the connection that this pain only seems to occur about 24 hours after drinking, but now it sometimes occurs much sooner, within hours. I always thought it was fibromyalgia but now I'm not so sure. And just like what everyone else has been experiencing here, the pain is pretty severe; I have the "bruised" feeling on my face cheeks, sometimes my eyelids (I started to think it happens anywhere there are muscles in your body, even if those muscles are deep below the skin, you will still feel pain on the surface), the back of my neck, shoulders, back, my butt, legs, upper arms...it literally spreads everywhere. Accompanying it I feel very fatigued and moody. And it goes away the next day. It used to happen only if I drank heavy, but now it will happen even if I just drink ONE beer (and believe me that is hard to do sometimes but I'm forcing myself to stop at one JUST to see if I get a reaction the next day), or more than 2 shots in one hour but that is it for the night. I never get buzzed or drunk anymore because I don't drink enough too. And I'll only have a drink once or twice a month now. And it doesn't matter now if it's wine or sake, beer, tequila, a mixed drink, vodka, happens to me with any alcohol. I figured maybe I'm consuming more than what my body can handle per hour, but I'm not so sure anymore. It seems to happen no matter what. I thought maybe it was leaky gut syndrome, and perhaps the enzymes are somehow making it into my blood and attacking my muscles? But why after alcohol in particular? Am I not metabolizing it correctly? Is the alcohol "sitting" in my blood stream? I pretty much have the same questions all of you have. I have not seen a doctor about this, I'm not hopeful at all with what they may tell me.

I was very much considering what Carol Atkin in this thread posted too (thank you for that information, definitely food for thought and totally possible!)

I will say, I don't know about anyone else here but the year this pain started for me was the same year I happened to be on Prednisone a dangerous amount of times for some skin rashes I was constantly getting. So I thought I had some kind of permanent "damage" from the prednisone, that caused something to happen in my body in which alcohol triggers this pain. So not sure if it IS related to steroidal use??? I haven't had prednisone since 2012.
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Avatar universal
Does anyone know yet what causes this? I'm a 36yo female and have exactly the same issue. If I have more than 4 alcoholic drinks, then ~24 hours later, the seriously bruised torso feeling sets in. Over the past few years, that bruised upper body feeling has been lasting longer -- more often 2 days instead of just a day. Anybody else noticing this worsening over time?
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Avatar universal
Hello, I’m a 25 year old female having the same symptoms. 24 hours after drinking alcohol the pain starts  in my back then around to  the front of my abdomen and up to the back of my neck. It hurts to touch and doesn’t go away until the next day. Have been to the doctors twice, one did bloods and there was nothing to show, the second told me not to drink. I understand that but that doesn’t help me understand why this happens. It’s comforting  to know others are experiencing the same symptoms.
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Avatar universal
I have been searching for an answer to this questions. I am part Asian and experience the Asian flush whenever I drink. However, there is no explanation or solution to this skin problem. It always starts the next day and sometimes lasts for 2 days after drinking. Its bad around my rib cage, torso, and neck. I have googled so many things, asked doctors, friends, and family. No one understands what I’m even talking about. II have found the ONLY thing that makes it go away is sleep. If I fall into a deep sleep I will wake up Drenched In sweat. Each time I sweat in my sleep it gets a little better. So I’m thinking It’s some kind of toxin that’s being released in my sweat. Just wish I knew how to prevent it BEFORE it happens
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Avatar universal
Im a 19 y/o female and I get this exact same pain too after drinking. Usually later on in the evening the next day i feel sensitive to touch in my torso area.  I’ve felt this way for the past year and can not find an explanation to why this is happening as well as everything I’ve read online seems to be occurring in women my senior. Assuming it’s just allergies but hopefully finding some reasoning incase this can effect my long term health
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Avatar universal
Im a 19 y/o female and I get this exact same pain too after drinking. Usually later on in the evening the next day i feel sensitive to touch in my torso area.  I’ve felt this way for the past year and can not find an explanation to why this is happening as well as everything I’ve read online seems to be occurring in women my senior. Assuming it’s just allergies but hopefully finding some reasoning incase this can effect my long term health
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Avatar universal
Hi again! The fact that a few of you related skin pain to sugar intake got me thinking. I am a vet, I know I’m not a human doctor, but physiology principles in humans and animals are in most cases the same. The pain we are experiencing could be due to water retention! This could explain why I get skin pain both after drinking alcohol with sugary drinks and during my period!!!! Please see point 6 of this article which explains what happens with excessive sugar intake in the kidneys: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-ways-to-reduce-water-retention

This article also explains water retention and it’s causes: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/wellbeing/lifecoach/10734374/Life-coach-what-causes-water-retention.html

It may not be reason, but sound like it perfectly well could be!
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Avatar universal
I am a 31 female and had these symptoms for a few years after drinking. It happens when I’m hungover, but also during the first or second day of my period. I know one other girl who gets this skin pain during her period. I am starting to think it is related to being a woman (as all the thread here are women!). Anyone else get this during their period? Today I am really scared because I am experiencing deeper pain in my muscles and joints and wonder if it has anything to do. I drank lots of sugary drinks from 2 till 10 (without feeling drunk but kind of continuously) yesterday and had cake. Might be the sugar? However does not explain the skin pain during my period. Will keep an eye on this chat to see if we can figure this out together!
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Avatar universal
The closest explanation for this type of pain that I’ve found is a subset of fibromyalgia called allodynia. It’s exactly the kind of pain everyone here describes. For me, these symptoms flare up after drinking or not getting enough sleep (especially after drinking).
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1 Comments
Wow, I didn't know there were so many people who suffered from the same thing! I thought it was some weird genetic condition, given that the only person who could understand what I was saying was my mother, she's got just the same mad skin pain every time she drinks. For me I have found that it is tinted drinks such as red wine, beer, rum, whiskey, etc that worsens it, yet if I drink too much of the other stuff there I go again. I will continue to research as well and let you know if I find something useful. I will research on this type of fibromyalgia.
Ps. By fact, I asked a doctor about this and he looked at me like I am totally bonkers.
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