Meth Mites and Meth Sores – Methamphetamine use can result in devastating effects on a person’s health and well-being. Much of the damage induced by meth happens internally, but the most obvious harm can be seen on a person’s skin, and much of it is caused by the hallucinatory presence of “meth mites.”
People who use meth are infamous for exhibiting sores, scratches, scabs, and scars. These injuries are often attributed to hallucinations that make them believe they have insects under their skin. Meth users often pick or scratch at their skin to try to remove the nonexistent bugs. However, several other factors can contribute to meth sores, including injection track marks, malnutrition, and poor hygiene.
What Are Meth Mites?
“Meth mites,” “meth bugs,” and “crank bugs” are all street terms for the same type of hallucination. People who use meth tend to stay awake for several days, and sleep deprivation itself can induce hallucinations in otherwise healthy individuals. Researchers have not identified an exact cause of meth hallucinations, but there are many well-founded theories, including the following:
Cause 1: Meth use can cause itchiness, anxiety, and paranoia. After many days without sleep, people who use meth may begin to perceive the itching is caused by something under the skin.
Cause 2: People who use meth may have unhealthy skin because of malnutrition, poor hygiene, or the toxic ingredients used to produce meth. When high on meth, users may compulsively scratch or pick at their already weakened skin, causing irritations and sores.
Cause 3: Sleep deprivation and/or psychotic features of “tweaking” may cause a user to begin hallucinating and erroneously believe that bugs are causing their existing skin problems.
Tweaking is a word used to describe erratic and bizarre behavior caused by stimulant abuse.
Meth sores and scabs are hallmarks signs of meth abuse or addiction. In general, those who abuse meth more frequently or for longer periods are likely to exhibit more sores than others. In addition to being unappealing to look at, meth sores can cause health problems if they become infected. Some meth sores can be treated with disinfectants, but sores that become infected will likely require medical treatment.
What Do Meth Sores Look Like?
Meth sores can vary in appearance depending on the cause, the presence of infection, and how long they’ve been on a person’s skin. However, meth sores on the skin tend to appear as red dots, rashes, and cuts. On the face, meth sores can appear similar to acne.
Sores can also develop around the lips or on inside the mouths of people who smoke crystal meth. These sores can look like canker sores or cold sores, and they are one of the symptoms of what is referred to as “meth mouth.”
On other parts of the body, meth sores may appear similar to chickenpox blisters that the person has scratched. When a sore gets infected, it may look like a bad blister with a brown or black center. The blister may also be swollen and pus-filled.
Without treatment, the infection can spread. If a user with meth sores treats the sores appropriately and stops abusing meth, the wounds will eventually heal and scar, and some will ultimately fade away.
Health Impact of Meth Sores
Meth sores are associated with health risks similar to those of other types of open wounds. If the sore isn’t properly cleaned and protected, bacteria can enter a person’s body and cause infections, which can be anywhere from minor to severe.
Minor infections can result in pain and discomfort, and if the infection spreads and becomes severe, it can lead to fever, fatigue, and diarrhea. Such infections that go untreated can be life-threatening. Signs of worsening infection include redness and soreness around the afflicted area, as well as swelling and the presence of pus or blood into the wound.
Meth sores that are related to unsterile injections may also indicate the presence of a contagious disease. Meth users often have weak or compromised immune systems, so any wound they sustain may take longer to heal. Likewise, their infections may become more severe and spread more rapidly.
How to Treat Meth Sores
The simplest way to treat meth sores is to live a healthy lifestyle, wait for them to heal on their own, and protect them from infection in the process. Clean the wounds with disinfectants or antiseptics, such as hydrogen peroxide, and then bandage them. Avoid picking, scratching, or in any way interfering with the wound’s healing process.
And, of course, you should stop using meth immediately. Quitting any habit-forming substance is much easier said than done, and people who are addicted to meth should seek professional treatment. Once you’ve quit using crystal meth for good and adopt a healthier lifestyle, your skin and overall health will improve.
Treatment for Meth Addiction
Midwood Addiction Treatment offers outpatient detox and comprehensive programs in both partial-hospitalization and outpatient formats. These programs employ services clinically-proven to be highly beneficial for the recovery process, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
If you are suffering from an addiction to meth, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today. Discover how we can help you free yourself from the abuse of substances and foster the healthy and satisfying life you deserve!