What are Meth Sores?

What are Meth Sores?

Drugs can have all different types of side effects. Some of these are more visible or intense than others.  Side effects from meth are known for being particularly difficult and dangerous.  One of these side effects includes meth sores.

What is Meth?

Meth is short for methamphetamine.  Meth is a very strong, highly addictive drug. There is no medical use for meth and it is illegal.  Meth functions as a stimulant, but can destroy the body. This is because meth will impact and change how the brain functions. This increases bodily functions to a dangerous and deadly rate.

Street names for methamphetamine include meth, ice, crystal meth, speed, pure, crank, and glass.

Short term effects of meth include:

  • Skin and dental problems
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Faster breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sleep problems
  • Irregular emotions
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Lack of hygiene or self-care
  • Erratic decision making
  • Anxiety or confusion
  • Memory loss

Long term effects of meth include:

  • Memory loss or brain damage
  • Heart damage
  • Long-term high blood pressure causing heart attaches, stroke, or death
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, or prolonged psychotic symptoms
  • Mood disturbances or violence
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Lung damage
  • Intense itching, causing skin sores
  • Severe dental problems
  • Addiction

How does Meth Use Impact Skin?

Methamphetamine causes a variety of side effects, including skin problems.

Skin related side effects of meth use include:

  • Hyperhidrosis
    • Hyperhidrosis is the medical term for increase sweating. This increased sweating happens regardless of temperature or weather.
  • Body odor
    • The increased sweating can lead to increased body odor. A strong odor is especially likely as drug use may increase the amount of chemicals emitted from the skin.
  • Excoriations and ulcers
    • This is caused by repetitive or compulsive picking. These are also known as “meth sores.”
  • Grayish, leathery skin
  • Changes in facial appearance
    • Dermatologists have noted pale, splotchy, wrinkled skin appearing on the face of methamphetamine users.
  • Dental wear and decay
    • Sores can appear in the mouth and gums. Some refer to this as “meth mouth.”
  • Skin and tissue infections
    • When a drug is taken by injecting needles, intravenously or subcutaneously, people are at high risk for infection. Cellulitis, or soft tissue infections, can be very dangerous and usually need to be treated by hospitalization.

Why do Meth Sores Happen?

Methamphetamine abuse can lead to sores for a few reasons.  First, meth use leads to itchiness. This leads to scratching that can open wounds and sores. One reason sores are so common is the hallucinations that can come with meth use. Delusions of “parasitosis” occur. People experiencing this feel like bugs are crawling all over them.  This has been described as “meth mites.”  Some people feel insects on them, while other people think they feel things crawling out of their skin.  In effort to remove these imaginary bugs, people may pick at their skin with sharp objects.  Constant scratching from fingernails will lead to tears and wounds in skin.  Open wounds on skin can lead to scaring or infection.  Infections get worse if users neglect to clean their skin or fingernails.  As a lack of self-care or hygiene is often a side effect of methamphetamine abuse, this increases the likelihood of skin sores.

This picture from dermnetnz.org shows what meth sores may look like on hands due to skin picking.

someone with meth sores on their hands

If you or a love one is struggling with meth abuse, the best choice one can make is to get help.  Medical professionals and addiction specialists can provide the best support possible to help someone get their health back on track. Leading a healthy, successful life after addiction is possible and worthwhile. Finding a support system is an important first step.  If you or someone you know if experiencing negative side effects, please call Silver Pines Treatment Center today 866-345-2147.

Resources

https://www.samhsa.gov/meth

https://dermnetnz.org/topics/skin-effects-associated-with-methamphetamine/

http://ag.nv.gov/Hot_Topics/Issue/Meth_Addict/

https://www.mdedge.com/familymedicine/article/26173/dermatology/skin-manifestations-may-signal-crystal-meth-use-think-meth