What Does Meth Face Look Like?

Knowing what meth face looks like can help you recognize the characteristic signs of meth addiction, and understand how the side effects of meth cause facial deformities.

“Meth face” refers to skin damage caused by the physical and mental side effects of chronic meth abuse, resulting in sores, scars, scabs, lesions, and facial asymmetry.

Methamphetamine use can present in physical symptoms such as dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, and elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

What Causes Meth Face?

The condition known as meth face is largely caused by methamphetamine neurotoxicity that affects the central nervous system and accelerates the deterioration of mental health.

People who abuse meth might develop sores and scabs from incessant scratching, often a result of “meth mites,” or the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin.

The short-term side effects of meth face increase as drug use accelerates, and signs of meth abuse become more evident in abnormal behaviors and visible damage to parts of the body.

Below we’ll discuss how meth face can manifest with sores and scabs, meth mites, and facial asymmetry.

Meth Sores And Scabs

One of the common indicators of meth face and signs of meth addiction is the appearance of open wounds and infected sores on the face and other exposed areas of skin.

The long-term effects of prolonged meth abuse include anxiety, agitation, and violent behavior. This is the opposite of the euphoria and confidence that people initially experience with short-term use.

In chronic states of agitation, people will often scratch and pick at their skin incessantly and obsessively. They may not even be aware of their self-destructive habits.

This self-destructive behavior will cause meth sores and lesions to develop, and become worse as the picking and scratching increase with declining mental health.

Skin sores and lesions are often prone to infection due to a lack of proper hygiene. Burns from meth paraphernalia and weakened immune systems can also cause and exacerbate open sores.

The meth toxins that are secreted in sweat through pores can damage skin and cause meth sores to develop.

Smoking and snorting meth contribute to the stages of meth mouth, which can include tooth decay and dry mouth.

Meth Mites

Severe mental side effects of meth use including paranoia, delusions, and tactile hallucinations can cause people to imagine disturbing sensations on their skin while in meth psychosis.

Formication is the term for these tactile hallucinations, which are also referred to as meth mites. Dysesthesia is the neurologic manifestation of a perceived sensation.

Other sensations of meth-induced dysesthesia include:

  • crawling insects
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • freezing
  • burning

Facial Asymmetry And Damage From Meth Use

Long-term meth drug addiction takes a heavy and visible toll on physical features over time. Scabs, sores, and lesions from prolonged skin picking can scar permanently.

Due to meth-induced malnutrition and extreme weight loss, people often develop sunken eyes and cheeks and unhealthy pallor, which exaggerates their facial features.

The dental problems of meth mouth including tooth rot and gum disease can also cause facial features to become asymmetrical and physical appearance to change drastically.

Finding Treatment For Meth Addiction

Although substance use disorders involving meth are difficult to overcome, meth addiction treatment at a rehab center can help someone recover their health.

If you have a loved one who is living with substance abuse, they may need to be in a treatment center where clinical care and support is provided at a higher level of care.

We offer several treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient levels of care and specialized clinical services to optimize our clients’ chances for success in recovery.

To learn more about the levels of care in the addiction treatment process and what our program can provide, call our helpline to speak with a specialist about your recovery options.

  1. MDedge Family Practice – Skin Manifestations May Signal Crystal Meth Use https://cdn.mdedge.com/files/s3fs-public/issues/articles/72526_main.pdf
  2. Medical News Today – Meth and face sores: Causes, treatment, and more https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/meth-face-sores
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse – Methamphetamine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/methamphetamine
  4. National Library of Medicine – Neurologic manifestations of methamphetamine abuse https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3148451/
  5. PBS – How Meth Destroys The Body https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/meth/body/
  6. VeryWell Mind – Meth Sores: Definition, Symptoms, Traits, Causes, and Treatment https://www.verywellmind.com/meth-sores-definition-symptoms-traits-causes-treatment-5524669

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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