Person struggling with addiction, wondering how meth affects your looks

How Methamphetamine Use Affects Your Looks

Of all the drugs that alter a person’s looks, methamphetamine (meth) causes the most overt visible signs of abuse. So how does meth affect your looks? While meth sores and meth rash are common indicators of abusing the drug, many other physical and physiological changes are seen in long-term users. Call 844.875.5609 to speak with someone from Promises Behavioral Health about how meth affects your looks and how our meth addiction treatment programs throughout the United States can help you or a loved one overcome this substance use disorder.

How Meth Can Affect Your Looks

Meth abuse wreaks havoc on the entire body, destroying tissues and blood vessels and inhibiting the body’s ability to repair itself. The effects of meth include a decrease in appetite, resulting in muscle degradation, unhealthy loss of body mass, atrophy, and a skeletal appearance. Meth abuse also causes the facial structure to undergo a horrific transformation due to severe skin issues and tooth loss. 

Meth abuse often leads to a host of physical and physiological changes that are dangerous to your overall health but also obvious in your appearance.


Low blood flow, destroyed blood cells, and poor hygiene associated with meth abuse result in dull skin devoid of a natural glow, loss of elasticity, and an inability to heal. Meth effects cause drastic visible changes to a user’s skin, such as:

  • Severe acne
  • Premature aging
  • Sagginess
  • Pale skin color

Meth sores or scabs are one of the most visible effects of meth use. They’re caused by skin picking, a form of self-harm that manifests in those with addiction and mental illness due to increased levels of stress and anxiety. Multiple pockmarks on a person’s face and extremities or recurrent skin abscesses in these areas often indicate chronic meth abuse.

Other signs of skin damage related to meth use include meth rash and “meth mites,” which is an itching sensation caused by an allergy to the chemicals in meth. In studies of meth users admitted to drug treatment facilities, about 40% reported dealing with “meth mites.” This figure rose to 70% in individuals with a history of psychosis. Also called delusions of parasitosis or formication, some people think the drug is coming out of their skin rather than insects.

Open meth sores typically affect the face and arms, making the sufferer vulnerable to abscesses and staph, strep, and other infections. In addition to acne and sores associated with meth bugs, the byproducts produced in the meth manufacturing process can irritate the skin and cause lesions that look like a rash. Many of these skin manifestations clear up when meth use ends, but some can persist for months or even years.


Few studies have been published on the ocular side effects of meth. Heavy users of meth can develop several types of eye conditions, leading to permanent eye damage and vision impairment. Visible side effects include involuntary eye twitching related to a disruption in central nervous system functions. In some cases, pupils can remain dilated for up to 48 hours after meth use.


The condition known as “meth mouth” is the visible side effect many people associate with meth abuse. Meth can cause blackened, stained, rotting, or crumbling teeth and gum disease. Many people struggling with meth abuse and addiction suffer from the following:

  • Cavities
  • Untreated tooth decay
  • Missing teeth

Some reports attribute tooth decay to the corrosive effects of the chemicals found in the drug, such as anhydrous ammonia, red phosphorus, and lithium. When smoked or snorted, these chemicals likely erode the tooth’s protective enamel coating. Strong evidence indicates the degree of tooth decay is linked to a combination of side effects associated with the meth high. These include shrinking blood vessels, compulsive grinding of the teeth, and dry mouth—exacerbated by craving high-calorie, carbonated, and sugary beverages.

Find Meth Addiction Treatment with Promises Behavioral Health

It’s crucial that people addicted to meth get meth addiction treatment as early as possible to help reverse some of the psychological and physical effects and prevent permanent damage. Contact Promises today at 844.875.5609 to learn more.

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