What Are Meth Sores?

Learn about the relevant causes, types, and available treatment options for meth sores and meth addiction.

What Is Meth?

Methamphetamine, often referred to as “meth” or “crank”, is a drug that can induce a temporary sense of euphoria and extreme energy. Meth is a powerful stimulant that can cause severe, long-lasting effects on the body and mind. In 2017, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that over 14.7 million people reported trying methamphetamine at least once in their lives.
While there is one legal form of methamphetamine called Desoxyn, a treatment for obesity and ADHD, the drug is rarely prescribed by doctors in the present day. As such, the illegal market has exploded over the past several years, with an influx of “bathtub crank,” or substandard quality street meth.
Meth Sores


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Is Meth Addictive?

Meth is highly addictive. Despite the considerable dangers and supporting evidence showing the detrimental effects of methamphetamine abuse, this drug remains popular and in high demand. Unfortunately, the addictive qualities of this drug make it significantly difficult to cease use.

Methamphetamine can cause cardiovascular problems, a state of constant arousal, suppressed appetite, weight loss, paranoia, and sleep deprivation. Depression and psychosis are the most common withdrawal symptoms of meth abuse. These effects can be compounded by preexisting mental health issues or other drug addictions.

What Are Meth Sores?

Meth sores are open wounds that develop on the body over time with repeated meth use. The sores most commonly appear on the hands, face, arms, chest, and mouth. It is easy to mistake crystal meth sores for small insect bites or cystic acne, especially when prominent on the face.

However, if the sores are picked on or scratched, they become opened and inflamed, taking on a more irritated look.

What Causes Meth Sores?

There are several causes for meth sores, depending on the body and how the drug is ingested.

Heat from Pipe

The most common reason meth sores occur is from pipe burns. Most meth pipes heat up quickly, increasing the risk of getting burned, creating an open wound, and developing meth sores.

Poor and Reduced Blood Supply

Since crystal meth abuse leads to a reduced blood supply, it’s not uncommon for the skin to become dry and irritated. This leads to scratching and inflammation, a common precursor to meth sores.

From Burns

Smoking the drug means the body is constantly exposed to hot, open flames. As such, accidental burns can occur, typically around the mouth and on the hands.

Weaker Immune System

Meth abuse weakens the immune system, increasing the chance of developing infections, especially crystal meth sores.


Meth can be secreted with sweat, causing skin irritation and inflammation. Thus, sweat and poor hygiene can quickly lead to the development and progression of meth sores.

What Do Meth Sores Look Like?

Most meth sores start out looking like small insect bites but quickly become inflamed and open through picking and scratching, taking on a more pronounced appearance.

Types of Different Meth Sores

Meth sores can develop in various places around the body due to different reasons, such as:

Meth Sores on the Body
It’s not unusual for a meth addict to have meth sores on the body. These meth bumps and blemishes can come from a variety of sources, including accidental lighter burns, pipe burns, or meth mites—explained below.

Meth Sores on the Face
Meth and acne often go hand-in-hand, usually due to a proclivity to scratch and pick at the face and body. Thus, a combination of poor hygiene and the tendency to touch and pick at the face can cause meth sores.

Meth Sores on the Mouth
Most meth mouth sores result from burns after prolonged use of a pipe. Pipes used to smoke meth can get very hot at the end, causing burns and open wounds.

Sores on the Skin
Irritated skin is another side effect of meth abuse and can result from pipe burns, sweat, lack of blood flow, and meth mites.

What Are Meth Mites?

Meth mites, or formication, is the sensation that bugs are crawling under the skin. Symptoms of meth use include hallucinations, psychosis, and tingling throughout the body, causing the feeling of bugs crawling on or under the skin. So, scratching, itching, and picking at the skin are attempts to remedy the meth mites.

How to Treat Meth Sores

Meth sores vary in severity. Depending on the condition of the sores, medical supervision and treatment may be required. This is most notably necessary when the sores have become infected due to excessive scratching and picking. When this occurs, there is a greater risk to the person’s overall health and wellness–exceeding the threats otherwise posed by the meth sores themselves.

Short-Term Treatment

Meth sores can receive short-term treatment in the form of antibiotics. Inflammation, redness, irritation, and abscess from infected meth sores can be diminished and eliminated with properly prescribed antibiotics.

Long-Term Treatment

Long-term care is the recommended treatment for meth sores or meth mouth sores. Here, the root cause of meth sores is directly addressed in the form of addiction recovery. This not only alleviates the recurrence of meth sores, but heals the overall health and wellness of the individual suffering from meth addiction. Meth addiction – while it is possible to overcome on one’s own – is best assisted by medical professionals in a facility environment.

How to Treat Meth Sores

Meth Addiction Treatment

Meth addiction is a very serious problem that demands intense therapy and commitment to recovery. While sobriety is always the ultimate goal, it is important to note that meth withdrawal can be dangerous to attempt without medical intervention. Further, inviting the assistance of trained medical professionals provides the best potential outcomes and overall likelihood of maintaining successful abstinence from substance abuse. Below are the most effective ways to address meth addiction.


When a patient exhibits sores from drugs, it is clear that there is an underlying addiction problem. Detoxification is necessary to ensure that the methamphetamine is completely and safely removed from the body. Medications are usually provided to help alleviate and lessen withdrawal symptoms.

Residential Care

Residential care ensures that the patient receives the help they need. Here, the patient learns and develops essential life skills while recovering from addiction.


Patients in recovery receive various forms of therapy to help them cope with their addiction and learn to combat temptation. In addition, a counselor is assigned to the patient throughout their treatment to ensure consistent guidance and direction.