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.