What Are Meth Sores And How Do You Recognize Them?

A long-term side effect of methamphetamine is skin sores that commonly appear on the face, head, mouth, and throat. Meth sores can be treated, which may also involve addressing the underlying meth addiction.

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Meth sores are open pustules or bleeding wounds that you will often see on the face and throat of a person who has experienced methamphetamine dependency for a long time. However, unlike other meth effects on the body, the sores themselves have an unusual origin.

Meth sores are a secondary result of protracted meth use, which means that the chemical properties of crystal meth do not directly cause skin sores.

Rather, meth abuse causes poor mental health and behavioral health that results in actions leading to those sores, such as picking at the skin.

What Are The Causes Of Meth Sores?

Meth sores result from behaviors common to people with methamphetamine substance abuse issues or as a secondary result of physical side effects.

These sores are a devastating consequence of meth, both in terms of mental and physical health care.


Formication is a particular type of hallucination in which people feel the sensation of bugs crawling on them or under their skin.

Formication is not just a result of meth abuse. It is also associated with depression, some prescription drugs, and Parkinson’s disease.

Meth Mites

Meth mites are the result of heightened formication caused by methamphetamine. They are imaginary bugs that people who use meth believe are crawling on them.

They are also referred to as:

  • meth bugs
  • crank bugs
  • ice mites

People experiencing meth mites have such an intense perceived crawling feeling that they scratch themselves until they cause open sores.

Meth addiction often leads to formication, which is why these skin sores usually do not heal until the person seeks meth addiction treatment.

Poor Diet

People engaged in methamphetamine abuse will often take poor care of themselves. Nutrition takes a back seat during drug addiction to drug-related cravings.

In particular, when high on methamphetamine, people will crave sugary drinks, at least in part because of dry mouth. Poor diet means their skin lacks the nutritional elements to be healthy.

Skin Fragility From Bad Hygiene

The skin of people with a meth addiction can also be prone to sores and infections because of poor hygiene.

Meth affects the skin because personal hygiene has a lower priority with meth addiction.

Basic healthcare measures that keep dirt and bacteria off our bodies, such as washing hands and showering, don’t happen as often.

Blood Vessel Constriction

Because meth is a stimulant, it causes high blood pressure and restricts blood flow.

As a result, people who use meth often look unnaturally pale. Poor blood flow also means that what little nutrients their bodies have are not making it to the skin.

How To Recognize Meth Sores

Meth sores start out looking like rashes where the skin has been abraded but not gouged. They may also look like normal cuts or scratches with scabs.

But as the skin is repeatedly broken and fails to heal, meth sores will become infected and take on the appearance of open wounds, blisters, or acne-like pustules.

Bear in mind that meth sores will often accompany other signs of meth drug use, such as:

  • dental problems from poor dental hygiene
  • unnatural weight loss
  • dilated pupils

Where Meth Sores Occur On The Body

Meth sores occur most often on the face (meth face) and throat.

However, skin sores can appear around the mouth (meth mouth), either from poor sanitization of a meth pipe, or because the glass pipe’s hot surface can cause burns. People often pick at their burns, which turn into sores.

How To Treat Meth Sores

Some meth sores may leave lasting scars, but they will heal with time. Sometimes medical attention and antibiotics are needed.

But meth sores will not heal as long as you continue in meth addiction.

This is why addiction treatment at a rehab center is the best way to heal this side effect of meth use.

meth treatment plan will often incorporate:

  • detox and management of withdrawal symptoms
  • inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment
  • evidence-based therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy

Find Meth Use Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

You do not have to continue scarring your body and mind because of methamphetamine addiction.

At Bedrock Treatment Center in Massachusetts, we have many treatment options, because we know that you can live a healthy life after meth.

Call our helpline today to learn about treatment programs for you or your loved one.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts#methamphetamine
  2. National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007480.htm

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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