Can drinking alcohol enlarge your nose, make it red and bumpy?

Alcohol consumption is known to adversely impact health in numerous ways. But, can it also affect the appearance of your nose? Turns out, it actually can! Medically known as rhinophyma, ‘alcoholic nose’ is a skin disorder characterised by an enlarged, red and bumpy nose that is, more often than not, linked to alcohol consumption.

“It is a skin condition causing the nasal skin to become enlarged, leading to deformity of the external appearance of the nose,” Dr Abhinit Kumar, Senior Consultant and HOD, ENT, Aakash Healthcare said.

Calling it a complication of a common skin condition called rosacea, Dr P Narendra, Consultant Dermatologist, Sparsh Hospital, added that it is a very rare condition. “Approximately 1 per cent of the rosacea patients will go through this complication. In the initial stages, there will be redness and increased vascularity. Gradually, it will lead to perforation of tissues and then the size of the nose increases.”

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In the advanced stages of the condition, one may face nasal blockage, difficulty in breathing, and sometimes, poor vision, Dr Kumar said, adding that “it is generally seen in elderly white men”.

It is most commonly found in white men over the age of 50 with a male-to-female ratio of 5 to 1 to 30 to 1, a study published in the National Library of Medicine read. “Occurrence in Asian or African American men has been reported in the literature but is uncommon,” it added.


According to 2021 research, also published in the National Library of Medicine, the exact cause of ‘alcoholic nose’ is still unclear, and several factors may play a role. However, there are certain associations with drinking alcohol, caffeine, and other hot or spicy beverages, experts said.

An analysis by the researchers at the University of Strasbourg and the University Hospital in Strasbourg, France found “a significant correlation between alcohol intake and severity of rhinophyma, with a heightened risk among moderate drinkers and the highest risk among excessive drinkers,” stated.

They added that an alcoholic nose can also result from exposure to ultraviolet rays and certain vitamin deficiencies.

Alcohol consumption is linked to rhinophyma (File)


Some of the common symptoms of an alcoholic nose or rhinophyma include:

*Nasal blockage
*Nasal deformity
*Thickening of skin over the nose
*Extension of the tip of the nose
*Bulby skin texture
*In some cases, it may develop into a special type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma.

“When the patient notices an abnormal redness or an increase in the size of the nose then the patient is recommended to seek immediate help. Other noticeable symptoms could be redness in the cheeks, forehead pimples, and also rashes,” Dr Narendra said.

Tips and treatment

Strenuous exercise, taking hot or spicy drinks such as caffeine and alcohol, and explore to ultraviolet rays should be avoided if you are suffering from an alcoholic nose, Dr Kumar said.

Dr Narendra highlighted the two treatments involved in the treatment of the condition.

*Tropical treatments such as sunscreen and topical anti-inflammatory gels.
*Systematic treatment where the doctors prescribe oral antibiotics and retinoids.

“The condition is said to improve in about 3 to 6 months,” he said.

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