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Alcoholic Nose: What Is It and Why Does It Happen?


Long-term, excessive drinking is often not a consequence-free habit. It can have a drastic effect on an individual's relationships, career, demeanor, and overall physical health. Common health complications can include damage to the liver, brain, and other internal organs, but another phenomenon has gained traction in notoriety. Banyan Treatment Center Delaware looks at the alcoholic nose and what exactly causes people to experience it. 

Why Do Alcoholics Have Red Noses? 

It can happen for a number of reasons. This health trend commonly occurs due to the presence of a condition known as rhinophyma. It belongs to the Rosaceae family, which is responsible for chronic inflammation of the skin. Broken blood vessels and the resulting sores can cause these vessels to appear swollen, red, and bumpy. Excessive drinking is known to worsen the effects of Rosaceae, which has the potential to flare up when certain foods or beverages are consumed.  

Some other names for the alcoholic nose include: 

  • Alcohol Nose 
  • Drinker’s Nose 
  • Potato Nose 
  • Whiskey Nose 

There are many assumptions made that alcohol could result in a large red nose for some people, specifically that the presence of such a trait is indicative of an addiction. However, this is not entirely true. Not all people with rhinophyma have alcoholism, and not all people with alcoholism will develop an alcoholic nose. Although it happens in some cases, it is not the actual cause of the condition. It agitates the health complications already present. That fact has sadly not done much to retract the stigma surrounding this condition. 

Why Rhinophyma Causes Stigma in Some Cases 

The stereotype of a red, inflamed alcohol nose has been around for decades. American actor W.C. Fields coined the term in the early 1900s. He was infamous for his heavy alcohol consumption, and many in his social circles considered him to be an alcoholic. He referred to his large, bulbous nose as a “gin blossom,” which gained traction as part of the public image of what an alcoholic looks like. 

The truth is that it only fuels a stigma regarding both conditions. Someone noticing early-stage rhinophyma could take it as a sign to cease drinking, while others would choose to throw caution to the wind and let it be. What remains true is that some will use physical symptoms and fear of judgment regarding it as a reason to isolate and avoid help. This is when real problems can develop, like addictions.  

What Alcohol Does to Your Face 

Aside from agitating rhinophyma or Rosaceae, alcoholism can have several other effects on the looks of those suffering from it.  

Some ways that alcohol can affect your physical appearance include: 

  • Facial bloating. 
  • Glassy, bloodshot eyes. 
  • Thinning, dried-out hair, which is easily split and broken. 
  • A perpetual odor, often due to the residual alcohol leaving the body that couldn’t be processed through the liver.  
  • Wrinkles, fine lines, and dark circles. 

The consequences of excessive drinking are typically not considered until it is too late. Just as with an alcoholic nose, these physical indicators of such a habit can result in a great deal of isolation that will only fuel the toxic cycle. That is where we come in. Alcohol withdrawals can seem intimidating, but Banyan’s Milford rehab is equipped with one of the best programs for detox in Delaware, designed to safely rid the body of the toxins it has grown to rely on. 

Banyan Is Here to Help 

The phrase alcoholic nose is just another example of the stigma and misinformation that surrounds addiction. Although excessive drinking certainly can influence the physical appearance of the person afflicted, it is far more beneficial to take it as a need for improvement rather than something to be ashamed of.  

Banyan’s Delaware rehab center houses impeccable alcohol addiction treatment that can aid you through your journey down the path to recovery. Additionally, residential treatment options grant patients fewer distractions that allow them to be fully immersed in the treatment process. 

To learn more about alcohol addiction treatment options, call Banyan Delaware at 888-280-4763 today. 


Related Readings 

Facts About Alcoholism 

The Most Dangerous Alcoholic Drinks in the World 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Alcoholic Nose: What Is It and Why Does It Happen?
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