What Is an Alcoholic Nose or Drinker’s Nose (Rhinophyma)?

Read on in this article to learn about alcoholic or drinker’s nose (rhinophyma). 

What is Alcoholic Nose (Rhinophyma)

Alcoholic or drinker’s nose is a condition that changes the physical appearance of the nose. Medically, the condition is called rhinophyma and is a subtype of rosacea. It’s called alcoholic nose because the condition is often associated with those struggling with alcohol and alcohol consumption. This article will discover if that connection is valid and if alcohol does indeed cause rhinophyma.

Alcoholic nose, aka rhinophyma, is a condition that results in redness, swelling, and bumps on the nose. The condition also causes your nose to round out or appear like a red bulb. The exact causes of rhinophyma aren’t entirely known, but it’s considered a subtype of rosacea’s skin condition.1

Alcoholic Nose


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Does Alcohol Abuse Cause Rhinophyma?

People associated alcohol with rhinophyma for years because it seemed like everyone who had it was struggling with alcohol. However, studies have recently disproven this theory and discovered that rhinophyma isn’t caused by alcohol abuse. However, alcohol can complicate rhinophyma and cause flare-ups of the condition.2

Difference Between Rhinophyma and Rosacea

Rosacea includes recurrent episodes of one’s face becoming flushed with erythema, papules, or pustules. Ocular rosacea is often bilateral and can make one feel foreign in their body. Moreover, rhinophyma refers to an enlarged nose with rosacea, and it most often occurs in men.3

While rhinophyma is a type of rosacea, rosacea isn’t limited exclusively to rhinophyma. Rosacea is often more widespread and isn’t limited to just the nose.

The Connection Between Addiction and Rhinophyma

The connection between alcohol addiction and rhinophyma is a long and mythical one. For decades, people associated the redness, swelling, and bumpiness of the nose with alcoholism. So much so that rhinophyma has the nickname of drinker’s nose or alcoholic nose. Part of the reason for the association is that consuming alcohol causes flushing and redness of the face. Many times, the more people drink, the more their face reddens, especially in the nose.4

While it’s true that alcohol doesn’t cause rhinophyma, it can worsen the condition and cause flare-ups. In a study conducted by the University of Strasbourg and the University Hospital in Strasbourg, 52 patients with rhinophyma were examined. Analysis from the study revealed a significant correlation between alcohol intake and severity of rhinophyma, with a heightened risk among moderate drinkers and the highest risk among excessive drinkers.4

So, while you should never assume that everyone with rhinophyma is an alcoholic, there’s a good reason for the connection between the two.

Potential Triggers of Alcoholic Nose

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholic Nose

Treatment for Alcoholic Nose

If you or someone you know has alcoholic nose, the good news is that they don’t have to live with the condition. There are ways to get rid of the problem and forever remove the stigma associated with alcohol abuse.

Drinkers nose


Unfortunately, medications only treat rhinophyma in its infant stages or minor cases. Rhinophyma is a stubborn condition, and once it’s fully manifested, medications can do little to cure it. Medications are available as topical products or in oral form and can reduce redness and prevent your glands from producing oil that causes rhinophyma.


Surgery is the most common method of treating rhinophyma, and it’s also the most effective. It’s the best option because the enlarged blood vessels and tissue can cause disfigurement that medications can’t stop. The goal of surgery is to remove the affected areas causing rhinophyma and restore the appearance of your nose. 

Here are some of the surgical measures used to treat rhinophyma.

While surgery is the most effective way to repair rhinophyma, it’s always a good idea to try medications first. The path of least resistance is often the best path for skin conditions.

Laser Therapies

Laser therapy is another method of treating rhinophyma, but it’s not as prevalent as surgery and medications. Its limited use is that its long-term effectiveness is primarily unknown. It’s also more painful than medications, but you aren’t put under anesthesia like surgery. Laser therapy isn’t unbearable by any means, but it causes discomfort depending on the severity of the condition and the type of laser therapy you use.

CO2 laser therapy is one of the most popular forms of laser therapy to treat rhinophyma. While the long-term effects have yet to be solidly proven, a study was conducted using a Sharplan CO2 laser to test its efficacy. Out of 124 patients treated, 116 of them enjoyed long-term benefits from a single laser therapy treatment.5

How to Prevent Rhinophyma

Preventing rhinophyma isn’t an exact science by any means. However, there are lifestyle changes you can make that decrease your chances of getting it. These habits and changes revolve around what you eat, your daily activities, lifestyle, and maintaining a skincare routine. Additionally, while we now know that alcohol doesn’t cause rhinophyma, it certainly worsens the condition and increases your risk.

By making good choices in life, you can keep your skin and nose healthy and free of rhinophyma.

If you or someone you know seems to be struggling with alcoholism, seek professional treatment. Addiction treatment centers such as Concise Recovery can help you overcome alcohol addiction and regain control of your life. Contact Concise Recovery today to learn more about our treatment programs.