What is Alcoholic Nose? Signs, Facts & Examples

Last Updated: December 13, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Drinking can affect your nose and skin in many different ways, especially when alcohol is used in heavy amounts. Fortunately, many of these effects are treatable.

Rhinophyma, a condition sometimes referred1 to as alcoholic nose, is a skin disorder that causes the nose to become red, bumpy and enlarged. This condition is often described in the context of alcohol use because it has long been thought to be related to drinking. 

What Is Alcoholic Nose (Rhinophyma)?

Alcoholic nose, or rhinophyma, is a skin condition that causes the nose to become bulbous and develop a red, bumpy texture. Although rhinophyma earned the name alcoholic nose because people believed that heavy alcohol use caused it, research only suggests a potential relationship2. Alcohol use has not been directly shown to increase the risk of developing rhinophyma.

Rhinophyma is thought to develop from chronic and severe rosacea. Rosacea4 is a skin condition that leads to patchy redness that primarily affects the face. The cause of rosacea is not fully understood; however, there is some evidence that it may be related to problems with the immune system. 

What Does an Alcoholic Nose Look Like?

An alcoholic nose looks4 red and larger than normal, and it has a bulbous shape. The skin may appear bumpy and red, and the nose may have a somewhat disfigured shape due to the bumpiness of the skin. The red coloration and increased size of the nose will generally be noticeable from a distance, while changes to the texture of the nose will require someone to be closer.

Rosacea and Rhinophyma

Rosacea is considered to be the main cause of rhinophyma. Rosacea5 is a common skin condition that comes and goes in flares. Over time, rosacea can increase in severity. It may begin as a tendency to blush easily and can lead to persistent facial redness. 

Rhinophyma is thought to be caused by chronic, untreated rosacea. While rosacea is not caused exclusively by alcohol use, the likelihood of developing rosacea can increase in people who drink alcohol heavily. Heavy alcohol use also increases the severity of rosacea, which in turn may influence the development of rhinophyma.

Does Alcohol Cause Rosacea? 

Many people have rosacea without it being caused by alcohol. However, using alcohol does increase your risk of rosacea6, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The same study also found that the severity of rosacea that did develop correlated with how heavily alcohol was used.

Is Alcoholic Rosacea Reversible?

The exact cause of rosacea is not fully understood; however, there are ways to treat it7. If alcohol is contributing to the severity of rosacea, stopping alcohol use may help to reduce its severity and make treatment more effective. Someone who drinks heavily should stop drinking as soon as possible and speak with a dermatologist about what treatment options may be best for them.

Signs of Alcohol Addiction 

While stopping alcohol may help improve symptoms of rosacea, it can be very difficult to stop using alcohol if addiction has developed. Alcohol addiction actually changes how your brain works, making you seek out and use alcohol even when it may not be in your interests. 

Signs of alcohol addiction include8:

  • Drinking more alcohol than you intended or for longer than you intended
  • Wanting or trying to stop drinking but being unable to
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from drinking
  • Obsessing over having a drink of alcohol
  • Finding that drinking interferes with your responsibilities
  • Drinking even though it causes problems in important relationships
  • Cutting back on activities you enjoy so you can drink instead
  • Getting into situations where you could be hurt because of drinking
  • Drinking even when it makes you feel depressed or anxious
  • Having to drink more and more to get the same effect
  • Having withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.

How To Find Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in New Jersey

Alcohol addiction can be difficult to recover from on your own, but professional treatment and support can make the process safer and easier to manage. Alcohol addiction treatment can help you avoid not only the skin problems that alcohol creates, but also more serious concerns that can be dangerous or even potentially fatal.

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction, The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can help. We offer inpatient and outpatient treatments that include both detox and rehab, with flexible options that enable you to have the safest, most comfortable recovery possible. Contact us today to learn how easy it is to take the first step toward lasting recovery from alcohol addiction.


  1. Dick, Mary K.; Patel, Bhupendra C. “Rhinophyma.” StatPearls, May 24, 2022. Accessed September 1, 2022.
  2. National Rosacea Society. “Severity Of Rhinophyma Linked To Alcohol Intake.” September 4, 2019. Accessed September 1, 2022.
  3. National Rosacea Society. “All About Rosacea.” Accessed September 1, 2022.
  4. Wong, Daniel. “Rhinophyma.” DermNet New Zealand Trust, March 2014. Accessed September 1, 2022.
  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Rosacea: Overview.” Accessed September 1, 2022.
  6. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Does Drinking Cause Rosacea?” Accessed September 1, 2022.
  7. American Academy of Dermatology Association. “Rosacea Treatment: How To Treat The Redness.” Accessed September 1, 2022.
  8. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” April 2021. Accessed September 1, 2022.

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