Substance Use

What Is Alcoholic Nose?

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What is Alcohol Nose?

Alcohol Nose, also known as drinker’s nose, whiskey nose, gin nose, or gin blossom nose. It is a term often used to describe a large, purple-tinted nose that is commonly associated with a chronic alcohol use disorder. However, the medical condition behind this appearance is called Rhinophyma and is not directly caused by alcohol consumption.

Alcoholics nose, or drinker’s nose, is an informal term that refers to an enlarged purple or red nose thought to be caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

The medical term for this condition is actually called rhinophyma, but is “alcoholic nose” really from alcohol abuse?

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, getting help as soon as possible is essential. Alcohol addiction is a serious condition that can lead to health, relationship, and financial problems.

If you need help quitting drinking, call the Zinnia Healthfree alcohol addiction number at (855) 430-9439 to speak to someone today.

What Are the Origins of Drinkers Nose?

This condition gained notoriety through W.C. Fields, an early 20th-century American actor known for his heavy drinking, who called the bumps on his enlarged nose “gin blossoms”.

There are several colloquial terms for this appearance of a person’s nose, including:

  • Whiskey nose
  • Drinker’s nose
  • Gin nose
  • Cauliflower nose
  • Bulbous nose
  • Old man nose
  • Pickle nose

What Does An Alcoholic Nose Look Like?

Looking at the image below as an example will give you an idea of what the appearance of what someone’s nose looks like when referred to as an “Alcohol Nose” or “Drinkers Nose”.

If you have rhinophyma, you may also experience other visible appearance symptoms of rosacea, such as:

  • Facial redness
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Acne-like bumps
  • Eye irritation

Why Do Alcoholics Have A Purple or Red Nose?

Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it increases blood flow to the skin’s surface, causing redness and inflammation. While Rhinophyma is not directly caused by alcohol consumption, alcohol can trigger or worsen the symptoms of rosacea like redness on the skin. When the capillaries on the surface of the nose break they can then appear purple.

What is Rhinophyma?

Rhinophyma is an advanced stage of rosacea, a chronic skin condition that causes inflammation and redness on the face. It is a skin disorder characterized by redness, thickening and inflammation of the skin, broken blood vessels, pitting, scarring, and a bulbous or disfigured appearance of the nose.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Rhinophyma?

Rhinophyma can affect anyone but is more common in Caucasian males between the ages of 50 and 70. Men are also more likely to develop rhinophyma than women. These might also be the type of people you are seeing with purple or red noses who are drinking in a bar.

What Causes Rhinophyma?

While the exact cause of rhinophyma is unknown, it’s thought to be associated with an overgrowth of blood vessels and connective tissue in the nose. The primary cause of Rhinophyma is not alcohol, but is more likely a combination of genetic predisposition and other factors. Symptoms of rhinophyma are more commonly seen in men with a history of rosacea flare-ups.

While it’s true that chronic alcohol abuse can lead to many health problems, there is no definitive evidence that drinking alcohol causes the so-called alcoholic nose.

How Is Rhinophyma Diagnosed?

Rhinophyma is typically diagnosed based on a physical examination by your local medical doctor or dermatologist. However, a skin biopsy may sometimes be necessary to rule out other conditions.

What Does Alcohol Do to the Nose?

Can heavy drinking damage the skin and blood vessels in the nose? While drinking alcohol may not cause an alcoholic nose, it can aggravate existing rhinophyma cases.

Rhinophyma is a condition that occurs when rosacea, a chronic skin disorder, spreads to the nose. Rosacea causes visibly red or swollen skin and sometimes bumps or acne-like conditions. When severe rosacea spreads to the nose, it’s called rhinophyma.

Rhinophyma is a serious condition that can lead to difficulty breathing and sleeping. If you think you may have rhinophyma, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

Individuals with rhinophyma are at risk for skin cancer within the affected tissue.

The most common type of skin cancer in these cases is basal cell carcinoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing type of skin cancer that is not typically fatal. However, if severe cases are left untreated, it can cause disfigurement. Treatment for basal cell carcinoma usually involves surgery to remove the affected tissue. In some cases, radiation therapy may also be necessary. 

However, alcohol abuse is not considered a cause of rhinophyma. Rather, a drinker’s nose is a condition stemming from rosacea.

If you think you may have rhinophyma, it’s important to see a doctor or dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

Does Alcohol Make Your Nose Bigger?

No, your nose does not get bigger directly from drinking, but alcohol consumption can worsen the symptoms of rosacea and rhinophyma, which can lead to a more pronounced and swollen nose.

How Can Alcohol Affect Your Nose?

First, it’s essential to understand how the nose works.

The nose is made up of cartilage, a type of connective tissue. This means it can grow and change shape over time. However, the cartilage in the nose is not very flexible, so it can only grow so much.

Rhinophyma exacerbated by heavy drinking can cause the cartilage cells to swell, resulting in a bulbous or “flared” appearance. So while drinking alcohol may not make your nose physically bigger, it can play a role in altering its appearance.

If you’re concerned about the effects of alcohol on your nose, you may want to consider cutting back on your consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to many other health problems, both short and long-term. These include liver damage, heart disease, cancer, mental health issues, and organ damage. 

Alcohol addiction is a serious condition that requires treatment.

If you’re struggling with alcohol abuse, it’s not too late to get help. There are many effective treatments for alcohol addiction, and Zinnia Health can give you the support you need to overcome your addiction and start living a healthier life. We offer various treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient programs, and our staff is dedicated to helping each patient achieve lasting sobriety.

Call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.

Can Drinkers Nose Be Treated?

While there is no cure for rosacea, treatments are available to keep the symptoms under control.

Treatment for rhinophyma can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In mild cases, topical treatments may be sufficient to improve the appearance of the nose. However, more severe cases may require surgery to remove excess tissue.

Other treatment options your healthcare practitioner might mention are:

  • Surgical treatments
  • Medications: antibiotics and acne medicines
  • Lifestyle changes

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, many treatment options are available. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of your addiction but typically includes a combination of detox, inpatient care, support groups and sober living aftercare.

Inpatient treatment may be necessary if you cannot stop drinking on your own. Medication can also be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.


Excessive drinking can lead to many problems, including liver disease, and can impact your appearance. However, the term alcoholic nose is not a medically-recognized condition.

If you’re concerned about the effects of alcohol on your nose, it’s essential to talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the risks and recommend substance abuse treatment.

Alcohol abuse can lead to serious health problems, so getting help is crucial if you think you or a loved one may have a problem. There are many treatment options available, and with the assistance of a medical professional, you can develop a plan that’s right for you.

Contact Zinnia Health today to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment programs. We offer various services, including alcohol rehab, detox, individual therapy, and group counseling. We also have many resources available to help you through every step of the recovery process.