What Is An Alcoholic Nose (Rhinophyma)?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 13, 2020

Alcoholic nose, known by its clinical name Rhinophyma, is a condition that causes the nose be become bumpy, swollen and red in apperance.  Also referred to as a Drinker’s Nose, this condition may be the result of rosacea as well as alcohol abuse.

Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 13, 2020
What Is An Alcoholic Nose?

Extended periods of alcohol abuse can lead to or aggravate the symptoms of a range of health problems, such as a condition commonly known as “alcoholic nose.” Such consequences make it crucial that individuals battling alcohol abuse issues seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Completing an alcohol abuse recovery program can improve overall health and prevent many of the harmful health problems associated with prolonged alcohol abuse. Finding the substance abuse rehab program that fits the individual’s needs is an important first step on the path to recovery.

What Is An Alcoholic Nose?

Alcoholic nose is also referred to as drinker’s nose. It typically manifests as a noticeably red, bumpy, or swollen nose or cheeks. This is a skin disorder called rhinophyma, which is a type of another skin condition called rosacea.

Rosacea is generally associated with inflammation of the facial skin, including broken blood vessels, which causes facial skin to appear bumpy and red. It is most likely to show up in older adults.

Individuals who suffer from rosacea may not develop rhinophyma until years later. Rosacea can be treated in its early stages with antibiotics, including topical creams, but these treatment methods have not been effective for reducing swelling or the appearance of bumps on the nose from rhinophyma.

Surgery, including laser treatment, may eventually be necessary to remove large bumps on the nose from rhinophyma if they interfere with breathing.

Does Alcohol Abuse Lead To Rhinophyma?

Until recently, doctors believed that rosacea and rhinophyma could be caused by alcoholism, which perpetuated a common association between alcohol abuse and skin conditions.

A scientific study that came out in 2015 in the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine dismantled the theory that alcohol abuse and alcoholic nose are connected.

The study participants suffered from rhinophyma, but they did not report a history of heavy drinking or substance abuse. This meant that rhinophyma could not be caused by alcohol use.

Unfortunately, doctors are not yet clear on what exactly causes rhinophyma. It shows up more frequently in men than women and is common among those with fair skin and European ancestry.

Current research indicates that individuals with rosacea have a genetic predisposition to suffer from rhinophyma, especially if treatments for their rosacea prove ineffective.

The Link Between Alcohol Abuse And Rosacea

While alcoholism may not be responsible for causing rhinophyma or rosacea, it is still associated with chronic skin inflammation issues because it can aggravate flare-ups.

Alcohol abuse and skin conditions are connected because of the potential for alcohol to worsen existing skin conditions.

Drinking alcohol enlarges the blood vessels, which makes them more susceptible to bursting. In addition, widened blood vessels allow more blood to travel to right beneath the skin’s surface, which gives the face a more flushed or red appearance. The shoulders and chest are also susceptible to looking more flushed or red after drinking alcohol.

Each individual is sensitive to alcohol in different ways, so everyone who suffers from rosacea may not see a flare-up after drinking.

Many doctors advise patients with rosacea to avoid drinking and cooking with alcohol, especially red wine for women, to avoid aggravating the skin condition. Additives in red wine may cause even more noticeable reddening of the skin.

Why Alcohol Abuse Gets The Blame For Alcoholic Nose

For those wondering what is an alcoholic nose, it makes sense that many people still associate this skin condition with heavy alcohol consumption. This common name and years of misinformation from the medical community about the condition prompted a false link between alcohol abuse and alcoholic nose.

The association between alcohol abuse and rosacea is traumatizing enough for some people with rosacea that they do not want to be seen in public during a flare-up. They fear that others will associate their swollen, bumpy nose or red cheeks with alcoholism.

The social stigma related to alcohol abuse and alcoholic nose highlights the social pressures and barriers that still exist for those suffering from substance abuse issues.

Many people who would benefit from professional treatment and rehab programs for alcohol abuse are held back from taking initial steps in seeking treatment by the shame they may face based on other people’s judgments of alcohol abuse.

For some individuals with alcohol abuse issues, it can be more effective to enroll in a treatment program outside of their local community so that they are not bombarded with social pressures and stigma close to home. This helps eliminate some triggers for those individuals and improves their odds of sticking with an alcohol rehab program.

Seeking Help For Long-Term Alcohol Abuse

If you or a loved one are suffering from long-term alcohol abuse, contact one of our helpful and knowledgeable alcohol treatment specialists today for information on rehab programs that may fit your specific needs.

Finding the right treatment center means focusing on individual needs and matching them with the rehab facilities that offer appropriate treatment services in a setting that is most likely to facilitate a full recovery.

We can assist with finding out-of-state alcohol treatment programs for individuals seeking a rehab center that allows them to focus on recovery away from the pressures and triggers of their home life.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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