Why do alcoholics have purple noses?

Answer

Some individuals who suffer from the skin condition known as rosacea experience flare-ups triggered by the consumption of certain types of alcohol, which leads to redness of the nose and face, according to WebMD. However, not all individuals with rosacea necessarily drink alcohol, as flare-ups are more commonly triggered by sunlight and heat.

WebMD Health News states that alcohol consumption is one of many triggers for rosacea flare-ups. Although it has been established that alcoholism does not cause rosacea, many sufferers avoid alcohol consumption because it tends to worsen symptoms. Certain alcoholic drinks, such as red and white wine, are more likely to cause this reaction than scotch, bourbon, tequila and other beverages. Some celebrities, like the comedian W.C. Fields, have popularized the notion that alcoholics have red, bulbous noses resulting from rosacea, but it is important to note that the two conditions are not synonymous.

According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, rosacea is a long-term skin condition causing redness and acne, and it most often occurs in women and individuals with fair skin. Although the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, it is likely a genetic condition. Identifying symptoms may include a swollen nose, thin, red lines under the skin and flushing of the face.

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