What Are Meth Sores?

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Meth is a synthetic stimulant drug that is highly addictive. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies it as a Schedule II drug. This means that the drug has a high potential for misuse. The drug is also called crystal meth, ice, and blue. 

While the relationship between skin lesions and substance use is not fully defined, there is some evidence that points to the development of these itchy, red lesions (also known as meth sores) after meth use.

Characteristics of Meth Sores 

Meth sores often look like small, round red patches on your skin. They can often be confused with acne when they appear on the face or a rash when they appear on other parts of the body.

Meth sores form as a result of heavy meth misuse. Other signs of meth abuse at the stage where sores are likely to develop include: 

Identifying Meth Sores

On its surface, meth sores can look like any other sores, such as a common cold sore. Some people even liken the appearance of meth sores on the face to acne.

However, if there’s a presence of meth addiction, then it’s likely that any open sores forming on parts of the face and body are meth sores. 

Meth sores are very uncomfortable, which makes people pick and scratch at them. When this happens, they resemble an open sore more closely and can easily become infected. If a sore is infected, it might develop a pus-filled blister. During the healing process, the sores might appear brown and scabbed over. 

Causes of Meth Sores

Meth sores are unlikely to form as a result of occasional use of the drug. However, it’s essential to know that although occasional use of meth might not result in meth sores, they can cause high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and difficulty sleeping. Meth is also a highly addictive drug and occasional use can quickly cause dependence. 

There are a couple of reasons meth sores form in people who have a meth dependency. These reasons are listed below.

Skin Picking 

A leading cause is that meth users tend to pick at their skin. Skin picking is a common side effect of meth use. However, their immune systems are often so severely compromised that sores result from skin picking.

Skin picking can begin as a result of hallucinations or dry skin. Some meth users experience a phenomenon known as meth mites. Meth mites involve a hallucination that things like mites are crawling underneath the skin of some meth users, typically around their face and neck.

This hallucination could also be visual, and the person might report seeing bugs crawling on their skin when there’s nothing on it. In order to feel a reprieve from the crawling sensation, they’ll pick or scratch at their skin, sometimes until sores form. These are also known as meth bugs or ice mites. The form of hallucination meth users experience is known as formication.

Sweat

Another common reason is sweat. Meth users are likely to excrete the toxic drug through their sweat. This makes their sweat harmful to their skin and can create sores. This, combined with poor personal hygiene, which many people with meth dependency often succumb to, causing meth sores to develop. 

Meth Pipes

Meth users who smoke meth with a pipe are likely to form meth sores around and inside the mouth due to burns from the pipe. These burns take longer to heal and often leave painful blistering sores. 

Treatment for Meth Sores 

There is no specific treatment for meth sores. Treatment is similar to that of other open sores that can form on your skin. However, a first step to treating meth sores is treating meth addiction. If the underlying addiction isn’t promptly addressed, the sores will only continue to form.

Also, long-term addiction to meth can cause more severe complications than sores. Hallucinations, anxiety, cognitive decline, and paranoia have all been linked to long-term meth abuse. Some damages caused by long-term use of the drug are irreversible and can even shorten life expectancy. 

Seeking help for meth addiction can be difficult. The first step is acknowledging that you need help and reaching out for help. Treatment typically involves a combination of behavioral therapy and medication. You might either opt to get this treatment in an in-house rehabilitation facility or at home with medical supervision. 

Meth sores will eventually heal on their own, especially when you’ve ceased using meth. However, if they have become infected, your doctor might recommend oral or topical antibiotics to help clear up the infection and aid the healing process. 

Coping With Meth Sores 

Meth sores can be uncomfortable and itchy. However, it’s important to avoid picking and scratching at them to reduce the risk of infection and enable the sores to heal correctly. It’s also essential to stay on top of your personal hygiene to prevent your open sores from becoming infected, leading to more severe complications.

Treating meth addiction and taking care of your hygiene and skin is the best way to treat and prevent further meth sores. 

A Word From Verywell

Meth sores form as a result of heavy meth misuse. While using meth doesn't mean that you'll certainly develop meth sores, long-term use of the drug can cause symptoms such as hallucinations and dry skin which can cause you to pick at your skin.

Over time incessant skin picking will lead to sores. Seeking help to treat a meth dependency is the most surefire way to rid yourself of meth sores. With time the sores will heal. The good news is that recovering from meth addiction is possible. If you or someone you know is living with this condition, contact your healthcare provider immediately. You will be referred to a rehabilitation facility where you can get the help you need.

9 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine misuse.

  4. Addiction Group. Meth Sores.

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By Toketemu Ohwovoriole
Toketemu has been multimedia storyteller for the last four years. Her expertise focuses primarily on mental wellness and women’s health topics.