Does Meth Cause Acne – 6 Ways Meth Abuse Can Make You Break Out

Does Meth Cause Acne

Meth or Methamphetamine is highly destructive to anyone using or abusing it. More than the behavioral and psychological effects, it can also drastically change the way you look.

And if you’ve been seeing spots on your face, you’re probably asking yourself this question:

Does meth cause acne?

Effects Of Meth On Skin: How Does Meth Cause Acne

People who abuse meth tend to age at a very fast rate. Even one or two years of abusing the chemical can result in very deep wrinkles, sagging skin and a lot of blemishes.

But the most prominent effects of meth on a person’s skin are acne lesions. Because they are so noticeable and obvious, it’s easy to see how people have linked meth use to skin breakouts.

Below are some of the ways meth can cause acne:

1. Dehydration

Meth abusers, particularly those who binge on the chemical, don’t really drink too much water. This makes their skin extremely dry and dehydrated.

The problem with dry skin is that it tends to shrink the size of the pores in an attempt to prevent more fluid loss. Smaller pores can get clogged and irritated easily.

Once the oil, sweat and dirt become trapped, it will trigger an inflammatory response and acne happens.

Aside from less water intake, meth abuse can also increase your body’ temperature. The hotter your temperature gets, the more you sweat and become dehydrated.

2. Compulsive skin picking

The feeling of bugs crawling underneath the skin is a common experience among meth abusers. This can make you scratch your skin harder and deeper.

You pick your skin obsessively to the point where you cause wounds similar to acne. And for any existing acne you have, well, they can end up in deep pitted scars.

Because it is a form of obsession and compulsion, you have very little control over this action. It’s a psychological effect of the chemical called formication.

3. Impaired Wound Healing

Due to scratching, the wounds associated with formication can be so severe that they get infected. At least 85% of these lesions get infected by Staphylococcus Aureus.

And not only that. Meth has also been found out to enhance the biofilm of these bacteria.

These biofilms serve as shields so that the molecules of antibiotics and antibacterial drugs won’t be able to penetrate them.

Meth also has a negative effect on your immune system. It lowers your body’s capability to detect harmful microorganisms and defend itself against infection.

Over time, meth abuse can cause damages to your blood vessels and tissues. enough blood supply, your body’s ability for self-repair becomes greatly impaired.

The result? Slower wound healing.

4. Malnutrition

Despite the increase in physical activity, you can suffer from poor appetite while you’re on meth. You won’t feel compelled to eat or crave for specific foods, such as those who smoke weed.

You can even go for days without eating anything nutritious.

This is one of the reasons why you can lose weight at a rapid rate. And as your body gets deprived of nutrients and vitamins, it becomes inevitable for your skin to suffer the consequences, too.

Your skin can look dull, lackluster and inelastic.

5. Poor hygiene

Proper skin hygiene is one of the best things you can do to avoid acne and to have great skin. And apparently, using meth can prevent you from taking care of yourself well.

Having poor hygiene won’t allow you to clear the dirt, sweat and oil that can get trapped in your pores. The longer these things stay in your pores, the more skin breakouts you’ll get.

It becomes an endless cycle of acne and scab formations.

6. Lack of Sleep

The effects of meth can be overwhelming to the point where you can stay awake for a number of days. This usually happens before the period known as the Crash.

Without proper sleep, your body can undergo a state of stress because there’s not enough time for repair or rest. This triggers an inflammatory response along with the release of several stress hormones.

One of these hormones is known as cortisol. This hormone has a direct effect on your skin’s sebum production.

A high amount of cortisol in your body makes your oil glands produce excessive sebum. And you know what too much oil can do to your pores and skin.

Aside from stress hormones, lack of sleep can also increase your blood sugar level and insulin resistance.

Once your body thinks that it “doesn’t have enough” insulin, it begins to produce more insulin. This increase in insulin can affect your oil glands and make them produce excessive sebum.

How To Prevent Skin Breakouts When You’re Using Meth

Seriously, there’s no other way for a person to avoid the nasty effects of meth without quitting it. And it doesn't really matter whether you are using a large or small amount of meth.

Even light meth use can give you a lot of acne and skin problems.

But if you can’t seem to put a stop to methamphetamine use, particularly if you have ADHD, then here are some of the things you can do to manage its side effects:

  • Adapt proper skin care which includes cleansing, toning and moisturizing. You should also make it a point to exfoliate once a week to get rid of clogged pores and excess oil.
  • Take a shower every day.
  • As much as possible, keep your body hydrated. Drink around 8 to 10 glasses of water per day or as needed.
  • Eat healthy foods before tweaking. You can also try supplementing your diet with vitamins.
  • Distract yourself when you feel the impulse to pick your skin. You can talk to a friend, play a game or watch TV.
  • Make sure you don’t use meth before your bedtime to prevent it from ruining your sleep.
  • If you use make-up, go for the oil-free ones.

These things can sound easy, particularly to those who aren’t drowned by meth addiction yet. However, for people who can’t get themselves to quit, these are extremely hard.

If you are on meth and looking for ways to get rid or just lessen the after-effects of the addiction, it’s important for you to know that the improvement can’t happen as fast as you’re hoping for.

You can see changes in just weeks but you’ll have to wait around a year to really see what difference quitting can make.

Some people who developed severe marks often feel discouraged if they don’t see any improvements right away and they just end up going back to meth use.


Methamphetamine, or simply Meth, just like any abused drug can cause a lot of side effects. Aside from affecting how you think and feel, meth use can also affect the way you look.

Prolonged meth use can make you look older than your actual age. It can make your skin sag, rot your teeth and worsen your body odor, too.

Meth can cause acne. And with formication, you can even end up with a lot of ugly acne scars and lesions that won’t go away without medical help.

These side effects can somehow be managed with proper skin care and diet. However, as methamphetamine can alter your thought process, adhering to these solutions can really be difficult.

If you want to get your skin (and life) back to normal, there’s no better solution than quitting methamphetamine abuse- as early as you possibly can.

To know what other things can make your skin break out, you can check out our really comprehensive list by clicking here.

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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