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What Causes Redness of the Nose?

By Karize Uy
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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In general, a red nose is caused by the body’s reaction to something. What usually happens is that the body quickens the heart rate, and more blood is pumped into different areas of the body, such as the nose. The body can also redirect the blood flow to certain areas if it senses the necessity. These bodily reactions are, in turn, triggered by some external and internal factors.

One external factor that causes redness of the nose is the temperature. Especially during wintertime, the cold temperature causes the body to conserve energy and warmth by slowing down the blood flow. Every now and then, the body opens up the blood vessels and lets out small gushes of blood, making the nose go red. In cases of frostbite, the body sends more blood to exposed areas, such as the nose, to warm them up. If a person’s nose becomes redder and painful when touched, he should be transferred to a warmer and safer area, and might need medical assistance.

Drinking alcoholic beverages can also result in a red nose. Too much alcohol in the body makes the blood vessels more vulnerable to rupturing. The blood flowing out of the ruptured vessels will then go to the surface of the skin, making the nose turn red. This is why a person who has had one drink too many can have flushed cheeks to go along with his bright red nose.

Skin disorders such as rosacea can also be a factor. Rosacea is a form of adult acne characterized by redness of the nose and cheeks, as well as tiny facial bumps that can contain pustules. If this condition becomes advanced, it can lead to rhinophyma or a “bulbous nose,” wherein the nose is so infected, it becomes red and swollen. A fungal infection called seborrheic dermatitis can also cause this problem, along with itchiness and flakiness of the skin. These conditions may not be cured, but they can be treated by antibiotics or anti-fungal medication.

Redness of the nose can also accompany many illnesses, such as colds, flu, and allergies. A person tends to scratch his itchy nose or wipe away the mucus, which makes the redness more noticeable. People with sunburn are also more likely to have a red nose, since the nose is one of the most exposed parts of the face. For a quick solution to a red nose — and face in general —, a person can splash ice-cold water on his face to constrict the blood vessels and reduce the appearance of redness.

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Discussion Comments

By indigomoth — On Jan 21, 2014

@umbra21 - That can be a good philosophy, but I think the best one is to be kind to yourself. I mean, there are probably people out there who are alcoholics and use that line about accepting themselves to justify their behavior. They accept the red nose and ruined liver.

Being kind to yourself, like you would to a child or a friend, means enforcing discipline as well, because to be truly kind is to nurture.

You can't be kind to yourself and still slowly kill yourself with an addiction. But you can be kind to yourself about things you can't control, like acne rosacea or a red nose.

By umbra21 — On Jan 20, 2014

@pastanaga - I've heard that diet can really help to reduce rosacea. They seem to think it's linked to the bacteria in the gut and if you eat a lot of vegetables, particularly green, leafy vegetables, you encourage the good bacteria to thrive and push out the bad.

I'm sure that the redness around your nose isn't as terrible as you think though. I think we have a tendency to magnify our flaws and think that they are the most noticeable thing about us, but I can't remember ever worrying much about something like that in another person.

Try to get treatment if you want, but honestly I think the quickest route to happiness is to just accept yourself as much as possible.

By pastanaga — On Jan 19, 2014

Acne rosacea is the bane of my life. I've always wanted to have a small, pretty nose that just blends into the rest of my face, but instead I ended up with a big red one that often erupts with embarrassing bumps.

Apparently it's more common in people with Irish ancestry, so I've got my mother's family to blame. I just wish they would come up with some way to cure it so that I can feel normal.

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