Cirque Lodge > Blog > Alcohol Addiction > Alcoholic Nose: Why Drinker's Nose Is Red?

Drinking alcohol can worsen symptoms of rhinophyma, a skin condition that causes a red and bumpy nose. However, despite its name, there is no evidence that alcohol abuse is a cause of alcoholic nose. Unfortunately, this myth has created an unfair stigma and misconceptions about people suffering from rhinophyma.

What is Alcoholic Nose or Rhinophyma?

The term 'alcoholic nose" or "drinker's nose" refers to the skin disorder rhinophyma. Rhinophyma causes the skin on the nose to thicken and the sebaceous (oil) glands to enlarge.

Symptoms of rhinophyma nose include:

  • red nose
  • bulbous nose
  • visible blood vessels
  • the nose has a swollen appearance

Rhinophyma and Rosacea

Rhinophyma is a type of rosacea, a long-term skin condition that primarily affects the face. While the condition is more common in women, rosacea symptoms are often more severe in men. People with fair skin are more likely to experience rosacea.

Rosacea symptoms include:

  • red blushing across the middle of the face
  • a stinging sensation when you wash your face or use skincare products
  • tiny broken blood vessels in the face
  • small pink or red bumps on the face
  • dry skin
  • swelling, especially around the eyes
  • thickened skin on the nose (rhinophyma)

What Causes Rosacea and Rhinophyma?

Scientists don't know the exact cause of rosacea and rhinophyma. Some theories include:

  • enlarged blood vessels that make skin thickening more likely
  • vascular instability leading to leakage of fluid in the tissues

However, it is known that specific triggers can cause rosacea flare-ups and worsen symptoms. These triggers vary from person to person, so you should track your symptoms to identify your triggers.

Common triggers of rosacea include:

  • alcohol consumption
  • cheese
  • caffeine
  • spicy foods
  • aerobic exercise
  • hot drinks

How Can You Treat Rhinophyma?

There isn't a cure for rhinophyma, but specific treatments can help manage symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing. You can talk to your primary doctor or other health care providers about what treatments are available.

Avoiding triggers of rhinophyma can help prevent or reduce severe symptoms. Your doctor may also:

  • prescribe you creams and gels for your face
  • prescribe a 6-16 week course of oral antibiotics
  • refer you to intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment

What Are Some Other Names for Alcoholic Nose?

Rhinophyma has several colloquial names, including:

  • alcoholic nose
  • alcohol nose
  • drinker's nose
  • whiskey nose
  • gin blossom
  • whisky nose
  • potato nose

Why Do Alcoholics Have Red Noses?

There is no evidence to suggest that excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol addiction causes someone to develop rhinophyma.

In some cases, alcohol use can worsen symptoms of pre-existing rhinophyma - but it is not an underlying cause. Moreover, most people living with rhinophyma do not struggle with alcohol abuse.

The Stigma Of Addiction And Alcoholic Nose

The commonly presumed link between excessive alcohol consumption and rhinophyma (alcoholic nose) causes additional social challenges for people living with rhinophyma.

People with the condition may be stigmatized and assumed to be heavy drinkers, increasing the psychological distress already associated with the disorder. Filmmakers have also used rhinophyma to indicate villainous characters - such as in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. These characterizations and misconceptions make life more difficult for people living with rhinophyma - it's important to share accurate information and raise awareness about the reality of the condition.

Signs Of Alcoholic Addiction

If you are worried that you or someone you know struggles with alcohol addiction, you shouldn't take rhinophyma into account. However, there are some other common signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder to look out for. These include:

Loss of Control Over Alcohol Use

Alcohol addiction is when someone compulsively seeks and uses alcohol despite adverse consequences. It is characterized by physical changes in the brain that cause strong urges to use the substance that can be very difficult to resist. This makes impaired control over alcohol one of the most evident signs of addiction.

Impaired control over drinking can manifest in different ways. These may include:

  • not being able to control the length of a drinking session
  • drinking more alcohol than intended
  • drinking at inappropriate times and occasions
  • continuing to drink alcohol despite physical and mental health issues
  • drinking more frequently than intended

Giving Alcohol Increasing Priority

When someone has an alcohol addiction, seeking and using alcohol becomes a priority in their life. Their thoughts may be constantly preoccupied with drinking, and they may plan their days around it.

They may also begin to neglect home and work responsibilities and self-care because of their drinking. This may include:

  • losing interest in activities, they used to enjoy
  • neglecting to eat well, exercise, sleep regularly or maintain personal hygiene
  • going late to work or taking days off
  • failing to fulfill family responsibilities
  • strained relationships with family members and other loved ones

Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone develops a physical alcohol dependence, they may experience a series of withdrawal symptoms if they stop or break from drinking. Experiencing these symptoms - or drinking alcohol to avoid them - can be a sign of addiction.

Mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Feeling anxious or nervous
  • Feeling irritable
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremors

Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms - delirium tremens - can be fatal if left untreated. Quitting alcohol should only be attempted with professional medical advice and support.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Living with alcohol use disorder can be scary, but support is available. If you or someone you know may be struggling with alcohol addiction, the first step is asking for help.

Extensive scientific research into addiction has uncovered a range of evidence-based treatment options to help people recover from addiction and live full and productive lives. No one treatment works for everyone, and effective addiction treatment programs usually offer a variety of approaches tailored to suit each client's needs.

Addiction treatment options may include:

  • Talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Medication
  • Group programming
  • Support groups
  • Experiential therapy
  • Complementary therapies like creative art therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Life-skills development

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Cirque Lodge

Cirque Lodge is a private and exclusive addiction treatment center in the heart of the rocky mountains. We offer compassionate and expert clinical care to support people in their recovery from substance abuse.

As one of the leading addiction treatment programs in the country, we know what it takes to overcome addiction and stay sober. We offer 24-supervised detox programs to help you safely reduce substance use as comfortably as possible. Our diverse treatment options allow you to grow, develop new skills, and maintain long-term abstinence.

We understand that substance abuse is often a way of coping with trauma, challenging experiences, and other emotional distress. We work to identify the root causes of addiction so you can fully heal. Our holistic approach treats addiction and underlying issues simultaneously as you reconnect with your inner self and rediscover your future.

At Cirque, we take full advantage of our spectacular surroundings, offering exciting experiential activities that allow you to learn through action. You can participate in our high ropes course, try equine therapy, or enjoy the thrills of a helicopter ride to the remote mountains. Back at the facility, the healing powers of nature offer the peace and tranquility you need to grow.

If you are living with alcohol or drug addiction, contact us today. We're here to listen to and support you.

About Cirque Lodge
Cirque Lodge is a recovery retreat providing cognitive and experiential therapies, in the pristine natural beauty of Utah’s Rocky Mountains.

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