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Updated on July 6, 2023
3 min read

What is An Alcoholic Nose & is it Bad?

What is an Alcoholic Nose (Rhinophyma)? 

Alcoholic nose or rhinophyma is a rare condition that typically affects Caucasian men between 50 and 70. It's caused by a skin condition called rosacea.

Alcoholic noses typically appear:

  • Red
  • Thick
  • Bumpy
  • Swollen
  • Bulbous

Historically, rhinophyma has been mistakenly linked to alcohol consumption. However, there's no evidence linking rhinophyma to excessive alcohol use. This incorrect association has created a stigma that may affect self-esteem.2

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What are the Symptoms of Rhinophyma?

Alcoholic nose is characterized by symptoms of rosacea, including:

  • Red nose
  • Red face
  • Bumpy nose
  • Red cheeks
  • Flushed skin
  • Dry skin
  • Skin with a purple-like hue
  • Broken blood vessels on the nose 
  • A bulbous nose shape
  • Waxy or rough facial or nose skin
  • Red patches on the skin
  • Red tip of the nose
  • Large bumps, pimples, or pustules on the nose
  • Enlarged pores on the nose or cheeks
  • Swollen nose

In the early stages of rhinophyma, these symptoms are mild to moderate. People who have rosacea may not develop an alcoholic nose until years later.

What Causes Rhinophyma?

Doctors are uncertain about the cause of rhinophyma. It is more common in men than women and typically affects people of Caucasian descent.

People with an alcoholic nose often have a genetic predisposition to or a family history of rosacea. This is especially if treatment for the skin condition is ineffective. 

Many doctors advise people with rosacea to avoid drinking and cooking with alcohol. This is to prevent aggravating the skin disorder. Alcohol consumption may not be responsible for rosacea. But it is still linked to chronic skin inflammation because it can aggravate flare-ups.

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Can Alcohol Worsen the Effects of Rhinophyma?

Alcohol can worsen existing skin conditions. Drinking alcohol dilates blood vessels, which makes them more likely to burst. Because of this, heavy drinking can aggravate rhinophyma, causing an alcoholic nose.

Until recently, doctors believed rosacea and drinker’s nose could be directly caused by drinking too much alcohol. However, a 2015 study at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine debunked the theory that consuming alcohol and rhinophyma are connected.6

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Tips for Managing Rhinophyma

Avoiding risk factors to reduce redness and rosacea flare-ups can help manage rhyinophyma. Lifestyle changes to reduce rhinophyma nose involve cutting out or avoiding the following:

  • Spicy foods
  • Sunlight
  • Being in the wind
  • High emotions
  • Certain exercises, like yoga and running
  • Certain prescription drugs, like blood pressure medications
  • Makeup and other cosmetic products
  • Red wine

However, these lifestyle changes are ineffective in reducing swelling or the appearance of red bumps on a person’s nose due to rhinophyma.

Treatment Options for Rhinophyma

Rosacea can be treated with oral antibiotics and topical creams. Dermatologists recommend anti-acne treatments like topical creams to moisturize dry skin resulting from rosacea.

Dermatologists also recommend using sunscreen to treat rhinophyma. Surgery may be necessary to remove large nose bumps resulting from severe rosacea. This is especially true if they interfere with breathing.

Is Rhynophyma A Sign of Alcohol Addiction?

Although the condition worsens with excessive alcohol use, an alcoholic nose is not a sign of addiction or a drinking problem. However, if your nose is constantly swollen, it might be a sign you're drinking too much.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

No matter how severe a substance abuse problem may seem, most people with alcohol addiction can benefit from treatment. One-third of people who receive treatment for alcohol problems have no additional symptoms a year later.5 

Available treatment options for AUD include:

Updated on July 6, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on July 6, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Rosacea, National Health Service (NHS), 2020.
  2. Rhinophyma, MedlinePlus, 2021.
  3. Brooks et al. “The alcohol flushing response: an unrecognized risk factor for esophageal cancer from alcohol consumption.” PLoS medicine 2009.
  4. Buddenkotte, J. and Steinhoff, M. “Recent advances in understanding and managing rosacea.” F1000Research, 2018.
  5. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021.
  6. Laun et al. “Rhinophyma.” Eplasty, 2015.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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