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Drinkers Nose. How You Get Rosacea and What to Do If You Have a Purple Nose

Updated on October 25, 2008

Drinker's nose – is a purplish, cratered, enlarged and sometimes cauliflower-like nose that occurs as a result of decades of heavy drinking.

That's the story anyway, and when we see someone with this an enlarged red and cratered nose, we tend to pre-judge them as heavy drinkers. But the truth is that so called drinkers nose is not caused by alcohol at all, and that people who have abstained for life can still fall prey to the condition that is more accurately known as Rosacea.

So don’t judge that book by its cover! Too many Rosacea sufferers are unfairly labeled alcoholics, due to this popular misconception.

Is there any link between Rosacea and Alcohol?

While rosacea has been conclusively proven not caused by alcohol (it is a genetic condition, more common in fair skinned people of English or Scandinavian origins) alcohol will exacerbate the condition.

And so heavy drinkers or alcoholics that are predestined to rosacea do tend to become afflicted more severely than abstainers – and there is some legitimate association between rosacea and alcohol.

Can it be cured?

There is no cure for rosacea, but the disorder can be controlled through medical treatments, medications and lifestyle changes. Heavy drinkers are sometimes unable or unwilling to alter their lifestyle to avoid provoking their disorder, and so tend to show the condition more severely than teetotalers.

In addition to alcohol, rosacea can be aggravated by:

  • Stress
  • Spicy food
  • Sun (especially sun damage)
  • Heat
  • Hot baths
  • Saunas
  • Hot drinks
  • Certain foods (Avocados, certain cheeses, etc.)
  • Alcohol containing skin care products

What to do if you have symptoms of rosacea

Rosacea typically emerges after the age of thirty. It is characterized by a persistent reddening of the face or nose, by irritated or runny eyes, by pimple like bumps on the face or forehead and visible blood vessels on the face.

According to the National Rosacea Society, the condition afflicts 14 million Americans, many of whom are not clinically diagnosed.

The disorder is not treatable, but through a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments is very controllable. The conditions is far more easily controlled if treated early, and so prompt diagnosis and the initiation of treatment is important.

78% (according to a Gallup poll survey) of Americans have never heard of the disorder. If you suspect you may suffer from rosacea, you should consult with a dermatologist for available treatments. Treatments include oral and topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs, and in severe cases, surgeries. Lifestyle changes are an important aspect in the control of the condition.


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      4 years ago

      My son has a purple nose and just stopped drinking will this condition get better

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      8 years ago

      Pauline - I agree!

      Having tried many products similar and most a lot more expensive, I was reluctant with my expectations of anything new.

      I have a lot of redness around my eyes and after about a week and a half of daily use of the Made from Earth Rosehip Hibiscus Serum, I actually could see the redness has lessened. With continued use, about three weeks now, it still seems to be improving. Even though I am 61, I don't have a big issue with wrinkles. Over all, I am very pleased with the results and the price!

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      9 years ago

      In that list of things that can aggravate rosacea, is the last one supposed to say 'skin care products that contain alcohol?' because 'alcohol that contains skin care products' doesn't quite seem right...

    • profile image


      9 years ago




    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I am 30 years old and have acne as well as rosacea. I have tried everything over the counter for both problems, and most recently the very expensive laser surgery. That laser surgery (Isolaz) did NOT work. Save your money. It cost me $700 for three treatments and my acne and rosacea were both worse.

      I tried the Made from Earth Rosehip Face Serum and have been using it for 2 1/2 months. My acne has improved greatly. My rosacea is lighter and there are less "bumps" in my rosacea. My skin is not perfect by any means, but it is definitely 70% better than what is has been for the previous 10 years.

      Also, it is a great moisturizer. This is good, because I used to use Clinique's Moisture Surge which is like $40 itself. So, it sort of kills two birds with one stone. I like it! Recommended for people tired of trying all the rosacea treatments with no success. Plus, you wont need an additional moisturizer.


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