Methamphetamine, commonly referred to as meth, is a highly addictive central nervous system stimulant. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 800,000 Americans ages 12 and older reported using meth within the month previous to taking the survey.
Similar to other stimulant drugs, meth increases dopamine levels. Dopamine plays a role in motivation, pleasure and motor function. Increased dopamine causes a rush of energy and excitement, along with increased blood pressure.
Meth is a popular illicit drug due to its euphoric effects. In addition to being extremely addictive, meth can cause physical effects, including meth sores.
Article at a Glance:
- Methamphetamine, or meth, is a stimulant that causes people to feel good
- Meth is very addictive
- Meth can cause sores anywhere on the skin
- Reduced blood flow, reduced immune system, and delusions are all symptoms of meth use that cause sores
- Medicated lotion may help sores heal faster
- The only way to prevent meth sores is to not use meth
What Are Meth Sores?
Meth sores are open wounds that occur on the skin of people who regularly use meth. A question many people have is, “Why does meth cause sores?” There are many reasons why these sores occur.
According to The Meth Project, meth sores occur due to:
- A worsening immune system
- Burns from paraphernalia
- Excessive picking
If you are worried that a loved one is using meth, you might wonder, “What do meth sores look like?” These open sores appear differently depending on their cause, whether due to picking or a burn from the hot pipe used to smoke meth. Meth sores are a combination of wounds that look like mosquito bites, acne breakouts, and burns on or around the lips.
Why Do Meth Users Have Sores?
People who use meth often have visible sores because of the side effects of meth. People using meth may experience delusions that bugs are crawling on or under their skin. These delusions can feel so real that a person may continue scratching even after causing bleeding.
Meth also reduces blood flow to the skin. Reduced blood flow thins the skin and reduces the body’s ability to fight infection. People on meth also are less motivated to maintain personal hygiene routines, which increases acne breakouts, skin dryness and infection.
People who use meth regularly also have poor immune systems because meth suppresses white blood cells that fend off germs, viruses, and bacteria. Less white blood cells mean a weaker immune system and a higher risk of skin infections.
The Recovery Village surveyed 2,135 American adults who formerly or currently use methamphetamine. The majority of those who participated (93%), experienced many health issues, many of which were severe. Heavy meth use increases a person’s risk for all methamphetamine-related health issues. In particular, heavy meth users are:
- 4.4 times more likely to have meth mouth
- 3 times more likely to have broken teeth
- 2.3 times more likely to have a sore or infection
- 3.2 times more likely to damage your liver
- 2 times more likely to damage your kidneys
- 2.9 times more likely to have a stroke
- 2.6 times more likely to have a heart attack
- 2.4 times more likely to have a seizure
- 2.5 times more likely to lose your ability to feel pleasure
Meth Sores on the Body
Meth sores can break out anywhere on the skin. Sores on certain body parts, such as a person’s arm, can also be due to injecting meth into these areas of the body.
People who use meth regularly will often wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants, even during hotter temperatures, to cover the meth sores on arms and meth sores on legs. Wearing clothes intended for colder temperatures during hotter seasons is a sign that someone could be using meth.
Meth Sores on the Face
Meth is highly addictive due to its energy-boosting and mood elevating effects. A meth high provides pleasurable feelings, which lead to psychological dependence because the brain links the use of meth to a positive experience.
The increased dopamine causes dependence as the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence and the increased dopamine levels. The body then relies on meth to produce and maintain a normal amount of dopamine.
Without the drug, the body experiences uncomfortable symptoms and undergoes meth withdrawal, which can cause the person addicted to meth to feel physically ill, lethargic, paranoid, anxious or depressed.
Aside from changes in one’s energy level or personality, meth can drastically alter a person’s physical appearance.
Face sores are one of the most common signs that someone is regularly using meth. People who are addicted to meth frequently have acne breakouts, which are caused by poor hygiene and restricted blood flow to the skin. Other face sores, such as large, open gashes, can be caused by picking at the skin while under the effects of the drug.
Meth Mouth Sores
Meth sores can occur simply from the act of using meth, due to burns, and not just from the side effects of using the drug. Meth is a white crystalline drug that can be taken by snorting, smoking or injecting with a needle.
Smoking meth involves using a hot pipe, which can cause burns on and around a person’s lips. These burns are also called meth mouth sores. When the pipe is overheated or the smoke is too hot, any part of the body that comes into contact with the substance and paraphernalia can become affected. The smoke and pipe can even cause meth tongue sores.
Meth Sores Before and After
Meth dries the skin, which can make people more susceptible to developing sores. Not everyone who uses meth will get sores on their skin, but these wounds can occur quickly for people who regularly use the drug.
Meth can have extreme physical effects on a person, ranging from a loss of appetite and weight to poor hygiene and teeth falling out. Pictures of meth sores show the effects the drug can have on one’s physical appearance. Since the drug can cause irritation of the skin, many people scratch and pick at themselves and develop rashes on their arms, chest, neck or face. Looking at meth skin rash and sores pictures on the internet can help people identify if their loved one is addicted to meth.
Meth Sores Treatment
Attempting rehab without medical supervision is not recommended, but there are home remedies for meth sores that can diminish the physical appearance and painful feelings caused by these wounds. Oils, such as those enriched with Vitamin E or aloe vera can add moisture to the skin and help scars heal.
Since meth sores are caused by using meth, the best treatment for these wounds is to stop using meth.
If you or a loved one is addicted to meth, call The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help. Individualized treatment programs help patients address their addiction and any co-occurring mental health disorders. You deserve a healthier future, reach out today.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Signs of Meth Use.” 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2017. Accessed May 28, 2019. The Meth Project. “Why Do Meth Users Have Open Sores? | Ask the Meth Project.” 2016. Accessed May 28, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Signs of Meth Use.” 2018. Accessed May 28, 2019.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” 2017. Accessed May 28, 2019.
The Meth Project. “Why Do Meth Users Have Open Sores? | Ask the Meth Project.” 2016. Accessed May 28, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.