Does Meth Cause Acne

(Last Updated On: September 13, 2018)

What good does meth do anyway? Does it really matter if it causes acne or not? Meth can create so many other side effects. It ages people prematurely, and meth abusers think they have mites or bugs crawling under their skin. What happens? They start picking at their skin, and they pick and pick… Before they and everyone else knows it, they have holes all over their face. When they heal are going to leave nasty scars. Worse than acne would ever leave. Now, let us get to the discussion, and we will find out if meth causes acne or not.What Is Meth

Meth is (a synthetic drug with more rapid and lasting effects than amphetamine) an illegal drug used as a stimulant and a legal drug used for narcolepsy and maintains blood pressure. This seems funny that meth being a stimulant is used to control blood pressure. Being a stimulant it should shoot the blood pressure to the stars. It is a synthetic drug at best.

Meth is known as crystal methamphetamine and is used to help people feel better about themselves the illegal version is anyway. It is either snorted, inhaled, or shot from a needle into the vein. Some take it orally. It makes the user lose his appetite, feel good about himself, has a false sense of confidence and well-being. The first high the user feels really good and becomes addicted to the meth. Eventually, the meth will destroy the user’s life. The high can last between 6 to 8 hours sometimes up to 24 hours.

Meth and Acne

There are six ways meth can cause acne:

  • Dehydration
  • Compulsive skin picking
  • Impaired wound healing
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene
  • Little or no sleep

You see meth ages a person horribly even if the user only abuses it for one or two years. They will age very rapidly. It will result in sagging skin, deep wrinkles, and lots of blemishes. The most noticeable effects on a person’s skin are lesions. If you see these on a person’s face, there is a good chance they are using meth. They are so obvious and noticeable it is no wonder people have linked acne to meth use. Here are the six acne causing reasons in detail.


Meth users just stop drinking water and became dehydrated. Especially those who binge on the drug their skin becomes very dry and dehydrated. The body will shrink the pores to prevent more loss of fluid. Smaller pores will clog up easier with dirt, and other foreign substances build up. They also will become irritated much easier. Once the skin is trapped with dirt and oils, it will trigger the inflammatory response which spawns acne. Aside from less water intake the body temperature increases and you will sweat more. The dehydration just gets worse.

Compulsive Skin Picking  

The drug makes the user feel like there are bugs crawling on his face. This, in turn, causes the person to start picking at their skin deeply causing ferocious open wounds. The user will pick their skin obsessively leading to acne type wounds. If the user already has acne than the acne ends up in deep-pitted scars. You have little control over this action because it is a form of compulsion and obsession. This psychological effect the drug has on the person is known as formication. (a sensation like insects crawling over the skin.) What do you do when it feels like bugs are continually crawling over your face? You scratch and scratch until the bug leaves. But being high on the drug it feels like the bugs never leave.     

Meth and Acne

Wounds Never Heal

Wounds that are scratched because of formication will keep itching. The bugs feel like they just keep crawling on the face. If the wounds keep getting scratched they will become deeper and deeper and never close up and heal. Eventually, they will get infected. The percentages are very high that these wounds will get infected. In fact, 85% of scratch wounds from formication get infected by the bacteria known as Staphylococcus Aureus. Those are excellent odds the wounds will get infected. Meth also enhances the biofilm (a thin, slimy film of bacteria that adheres to a surface.) which means more will reproduce and stick to the surface of the skin. Is not that a pretty picture? The biofilms also serve as shields for the bacteria and the meth makes the shields stronger because the shields originally are for the bacteria to resist antibiotics and antibacterial drugs. So, the meth makes it even harder for these drugs to penetrate these biofilm shields and kill the bacteria.

Meth also plays havoc with the immune system. It weakens the immune system to the point that the body is unable to detect microorganisms to defend itself against infection. So, the body is much weaker and unable to stay healthy from sickness. It will also damage blood vessels and tissue over time. This will cut down the flow of blood through the body which hampers the body’s ability to self-heal. All of these factors result in the body slowing down in its ability to repair wounds.


Although the increase in physical activity can go days without eating anything nutritious. You will not crave for specific foods; ones that are healthy and can strengthen the body. The meth user will lose weight at a rapid rate, and the skin will suffer as well. The skin becomes dry and dehydrated. The skin will look dull, lackluster, and lose its elasticity which will lead to acne breakouts.

Lousy Hygiene

Proper hygiene will help the skin look healthy. It will also significantly reduce the risk of acne breakouts. Poor hygiene leads to unhealthy skin and acne breakouts become widespread. The dirt, sweat, and oil will clog the pores, and the buildup in the pores will result in many more acne breakouts. It becomes a vicious cycle the pores clog causing acne breakouts.  The person scratches the acne and scabs form that are broken off.

You won’t Sleep

Another Sleepless Night

Meth can be so overwhelming you could end up not sleeping for days. How dangerous is this? This usually happens right before the period known as the crash. The crash is when the body doesn’t get enough sleep, and it is unable to rest or repair. This is due to high stress levels from the body going without sleep for too long. This will release too many hormones and triggers inflammatory responses in the body.

One of these stress hormones is known as cortisol which affects the skin’s sebum production. Too much cortisol in the body will cause it to produce too much sebum. You know what too much oil production to the pores and skin. Additionally, lack of sleep can increase blood sugar levels, and your resistance to insulin is weakened. The body will go into “freak out” mode because it thinks it doesn’t have enough insulin. With increased insulin production comes increased sebum production. The result of increased sebum production is increased acne breakouts.

Living Examples of Meth Causing Acne

One user quit taking meth and broke out in acne right after she quit. She broke out in large quantities after stopping meth. She says while taking meth (she was a heavy user) her body got used to the meth, and she had no acne. She stopped using meth, and she started breaking out with widespread acne. She is using baking soda to scrub her face with so she can get rid of the acne. She said the acne was caused by the meth use which caused a hormonal imbalance in her system. She also said she knew people who got acne when they used meth. This is no myth that meth causes acne.

Another user said that meth use will increase levels of cortisol and cause all kinds of skin issues like acne. He said a healthy lifestyle is the only way to cure this.

A third former user agreed with the cortisol statement saying they had been there. This person warned do not pick the skin.

A fourth former user said they felt like they were sweating out gallons of meth through oil. The next day they smelled like chemicals, and while they were high on meth, they broke out as well. They are glad they quit.

A fifth user said they had pimples and would use the baking soda route. It is clear their pimples were from meth use.

A sixth former user had a sad tale to share indeed. Before they started using meth, they had beautiful skin. They started using meth and used it all day long for about 7 months. They quit and now for four months they have the worst looking skin. They have big bumps on their cheeks and jaw and little white bumps on their cheeks. They feel that people are looking at them differently now because they have a face full of brown scars and bumps. It is not regular acne they say, but it is like pustules sometimes with clear liquid coming out.

A drug detox counselor said they couldn’t understand why meth was such a popular drug. They had seen many cases of meth users and have seen the ugliest side of meth use. They have probably seen many meth users with severe cases of acne.

Living Examples of Meth Causing Acne

Meth the Acne Booster

Crystal meth is a stimulant that will throw your body’s natural perspiration cycle into havoc.  As mentioned before it raises the heartbeat which increases the body temperature. This will cause normal to dry skin to become oily, and you better believe it will form acne. According to the “National Institute on Drug Abuse,” long-term meth users will stop taking care of their personal hygiene. They will not shower or wash their faces. Their faces became oily and dirty, and the natural consequence of this is acne breakouts multiplied.  

Meth can actually change the nature of the skin. It will make it oily and turn it a gray color and give it a leathery texture. explains “that meth constricts your blood vessels and lessens blood flow to your skin. Eventually, meth usage destroys your blood vessels to the degree that not enough blood can get to your skin to keep it healthy. Your skin on meth becomes unnaturally grey and leathery, and acne sores that develop, cannot heal properly.”

Furthermore, meth will cause what doctors at Mayo clinic call “meth mites” a nasty skin condition. Dr. Kathleen Hectorne, a Mayo Clinic physician, says “that meth mites occur because meth commonly makes users feel as if bugs are crawling on their skin. Meth addicts who are hallucinating bugs on their skin obsessively pick at their skin with their nails, or other sharp objects to the point that it bleeds.” Emergency room Dr. Sullivan Smith said, “Not only do these sores take longer than normal to heal because of the restricted blood flow and repetitive picking, but they can also become infected.” The infections will cause more problems for meth users.

The evidence is petty substantial that meth does cause acne from the sources investigated. Doctors at Mayo Clinic, say it causes acne in the worst form that leaves holes in the user’s face. They hallucinate that bugs are crawling under their skin then they start the merciless cycle of picking the acne sores. They open up and bleed then they scab over. The user picks the scabs, and the wounds grow deeper. They pick at them again they bleed and crust over. Finally, when they do heal there are unsightly scars left on the user’s face.

Actual users who experienced the meth abuse said they too broke out in acne and their skin became oily. One former user warned to not pick at the acne because it will leave open sores. The proof is in the pudding people who were meth users said they broke out in acne from the drug use.

Meth the Acne Booster

Effects of Meth

Short Term Effects:

  • Euphoria or feelings of intense pleasure
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased physical activity
  • Decreased fatigue
  • Increased attention
  • Decreased appetite

The increase of dopamine in the body increases wakefulness and attention and  decreases fatigue. This is why the drug is abused it makes the user feel like a “superman”.

Short Term effects if not Treated Promptly could be Fatal

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Lung collapse due to changes in air pressure
  • Convulsions

Notice these are some very serious effects this harmful drug can cause. Every single one of them could lead up to death.

Long Term Physiological Effects

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys
  • Damage to the nasal pathways, a common effect of snorting the drug
  • Sores and abscesses that additionally, increase the risk of infections
  • Dental decay
  • An aged appearance that is the result of poor diet and hygiene, the presence of various medical conditions, and a stressful lifestyle

Long-term Neurological, Psychological, and Behavioral effects

  • Addictive disorder that manifests as compulsive drug-seeking behavior
  • Structural and functional changes in the brain
  • Anxiety
  • Psychotic symptoms
  • Mood disturbances
  • Impaired motor abilities
  • Impaired cognitive functionality

Brain Effects

  • Paranoia, hallucinations, and self-absorption
  • Compulsive motor activities
  • Aggressiveness and violence
  • Decreased attention span
  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Memory impairment
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic apathy
  • Anhedonia (You cannot feel pleasure; you become numb)

Brain Parts Affected Negatively by Meth

  • Cells that preserve brain health
  • Neural pathways
  • Nerve terminals
  • Dopamine system associated with perceptions of reward and punishment
  • Areas of the brain associated with memory and emotions

Long Term Effects on the Brain

  • Psychotic symptoms similar to schizophrenia and marked by delusions, paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and self-absorption
  • Random, repetitive, and compulsive motor activities like twitching or scratching
  • Aggressive or violent and sometimes homicidal behavior stemming from an inability to control impulses
  • Decreased attention span
  • Impaired thinking and judgment
  • Reduced inhibition
  • Memory impairment or loss
  • Increased risk of stroke due to damage to blood vessels
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease due to reduced dopamine levels
  • Chronic apathy
  • Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia) that may trigger suicidal thoughts

Effects on the Body

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Insomnia and sleep deprivation
  • Damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys
  • Damage to the nasal pathways
  • Infections, sores, and abscesses
  • Dental decay
  • Stress
  • Malnutrition
  • Aged appearance

Effects on the Heart

  • Cardiovascular System Damage: Meth stresses the heart by elevating blood pressure and disturbing its normal rhythmic patterns. These can lead to heart attacks.
  • Development of Clots: Meth constricts blood vessels and veins that can lead to the formation of clots.
  • Rupture of Arteries: Meth is toxic to large blood vessels. Continued use can tear arteries and cause fatal bleeding into the heart.
  • Increased Risk of Strokes: There is an increased risk of strokes from blood clots.

Effects on the Kidneys

  • Elevated body temperature can cause the kidneys to shut down from dehydration.
  • Consistently elevated blood pressure damages the kidneys and impairs their functionality.
  • Consistently high body temperature and chronic muscle twitching can break down muscle tissue (rhabdomyolysis). This floods the body with toxins that are dangerous for the kidneys. The kidneys may even shut down.
  • Meth can cause urine retention. Backflow of urine can cause kidney failure.
  • Meth constricts blood vessels, and kidneys can shut down due to reduced blood flow.

Effects on the Lungs

  • The presence of toxins in meth damages the lungs directly. The damage is more significant in users who smoke the drug.
  • Meth vapors increase the amount of free radicals in the lungs. This causes oxidative stress that damages the organ.
  • Constricted blood vessels reduce the flow of blood to the lungs. This may cause fluid to accumulate in the lungs. This is a potentially life-threatening condition marked by breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue, and fainting.


Meth abuse will cause acne, but far more importantly it can damage the major organs of the body. It could lead to many fatal effects if the side effects are not treated promptly. Meth is a killer that goes way beyond just giving the user acne.


Updated: September 14, 2018 by Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D. All medical facts and points stated on this page are correct as of this date. Please be aware that new content and additional references were added in this last update. All the content and media has been uploaded by Lily Greene our webmaster, who is also in charge of page design. 

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.