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Drug abuse, especially when prolonged, can cause serious harm to the body. While many people are familiar with the destruction that smoking cigarettes can have on the lungs or the damage heavy drinking can have on the liver, the effects of drug abuse on the skin may be more surprising.

How Do Drugs Affect Your Skin?

While drug abuse can cause serious damage to internal organs, it can also wreak havoc on a person’s personal appearance. The constant influx of toxic chemicals into the body, intravenous drug use, and the addict’s neglect for their personal hygiene can result in unsightly and noticeable changes on the skin.

What drugs do to your skin will depend on a variety of factors including the substance being abused, the length of abuse, the route of administration, the regular dosage, medical history, skin sensitivity and the addict’s skincare routine.


Methamphetamine especially has been known to cause serious damage to a person’s physical appearance, including their skin. Meth mites can lead to excess itching that in turn creates sores and blisters on the skin. Without meth addiction treatment the itching will likely continue. These sores could become more noticeable as well as even infected.


Acne and drug use can also go hand in hand. Because many addicts neglect their personal hygiene and do not have a good skincare routine, the natural result may be acne. Meth sores on the face can also look like bad acne.

Skin Infections

Skin infections are common among people who inject drugs such as heroin users, and they can range drastically in appearance and severity. In some cases, they may even turn into life threatening problems if ignored.

Needle Tracks

Along with the possibility of getting a skin infection, intravenous drug use can also lead to scars or discoloration at the injection site, especially if they use the same spot repeatedly. Many IV drug users will wear long sleeves or pants to try and cover these marks.

Repairing Skin Damage from Drugs

To reverse the damage that drugs do to your skin, the first step is to stop abusing them. Our detox center in PA helps people safely wean themselves off of these drugs and move past these addictions for good. When you stop the abuse and consequently begin taking care of yourself once more, some of these problems will naturally go away over time.

For more serious problems or skin damage from drug abuse, you may need to see a doctor or dermatologist. Especially in the case of IV drug use complications like skin infections, you should see your doctor for any necessary treatment or medications. If you are looking to heal from skin damage sooner rather than later, a dermatologist may also be able to recommend products that are best for your specific needs.

At Clearbrook Treatment Centers, we want to help our patients find comprehensive healing from their substance use disorders. If you or someone you care about is looking for professional treatment, call us today at 570-536-9621.

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