Methamphetamine And Skin Reactions

Methamphetamine can have many negative effects on a person’s skin, both as a result of meth and due to the person’s hygienic behavior while using meth. These effects on the skin can be seen in both the short term and long term.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Crystal meth is a powerful stimulant that works by releasing large amounts of dopamine from the central nervous system and creating an intense and euphoric high.

Meth use has many effects on the body, including reduced blood flow, which can take a heavy toll on a person’s skin.

In general, meth is known to cause negative effects on a person’s outward appearance. However, many of the skin reactions or skin damage caused by meth can be treated with time.

Common Skin Reactions From Meth Use

In addition to the high that it creates, meth use also creates a fast heart rate, high blood pressure, and high body temperature.

Using crystal meth also results in poor circulation and decreased blood flow to all areas of the body, including the skin, resulting in some painful and uncomfortable side effects.

Formication (Meth Mites)

Meth mites are imaginary bugs that a person who uses meth heavily might perceive are crawling under or along their skin.

This type of hallucination, called formication, is a common part of the psychosis that can happen with heavy meth use and withdrawal.

The sensation of meth mites can also cause a person to pick obsessively at their skin, leading to scabs, sores, and eventually scarring.

Meth Sores

Chronic meth use dries out a person’s skin due to poor blood flow and circulation. Open sores and scabs (meth sores) can appear as a result.

More commonly, meth sores result from a person scratching their skin due to the sensation of meth bugs.

Meth use can also worsen acne and make it slower to heal.

Skin Infections

With constant open wounds and skin picking both being issues among people who use meth, it is not surprising that they can easily develop skin infections.

This is especially the case for people who are injecting meth, as they can develop infections at skin sores around the injection site, known as abscesses.

How Meth Use Damages The Skin

By reducing blood flow throughout the body, heavy meth use can do a lot of damage to a person’s appearance over time, particularly their skin.

Constricts Blood Vessels

Meth use constricts the blood vessels, meaning it narrows them and greatly decreases the flow of healthy blood through them.

This means that there is a lack of healthy blood reaching the body’s vital organs, including the skin. Lack of blood flow can make the person appear pale or have a ‘sick’ look about them.

Poor Personal Hygiene

Someone who finds themselves caught in a meth addiction will likely start to neglect themselves in numerous ways, including maintaining regular hygiene.

They may stop bathing regularly or washing their clothes, and the evidence will be clear on their skin.

Reduces Elasticity

With poor oxygen and blood flow to a person’s skin, elasticity will also be reduced. Dehydrated skin can become dull and dry.

This can in turn make a person’s skin age at a faster rate than normal and they may appear significantly older than they are.

Weakened Immune System

Someone who abuses meth will also have a weakened immune system and likely find themselves getting sick more often than normal.

Because of this, sores or infections on their skin may form more easily and take longer to heal.

How To Treat Skin That’s Been Damaged By Meth Abuse

The best thing that someone can do if their skin has been damaged by meth use is to stop using meth.

It will take time, but with discontinued use, their veins can get healthier and sores and lesions can begin to heal properly.

At this point, staying properly hydrated and maintaining a healthy diet will also do wonders for restoring a person’s skin and overall appearance after recovering from meth addiction.

Treatment Programs For Methamphetamine Addiction

Professional treatment for a meth addiction is very important when it comes to achieving sobriety and preventing relapse.

This type of addiction can be dangerous and life-threatening, and it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

Treatment options for methamphetamine addiction include:

  • medically monitored detox
  • medication management
  • residential/inpatient treatment
  • day treatment
  • behavioral therapy
  • life skills workshops
  • peer support groups

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Are you looking for an addiction treatment center in your area that can help you or a loved one get your life back on track and free from substance abuse?

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we specialize in early recovery through a variety of treatment options, including medical detox, residential programs, and behavioral therapy.

Call now to learn more about our accredited Massachusetts treatment center.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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