Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth or meth, is a highly addictive and dangerous drug. Abusing meth more than once can quickly lead to the development of an addiction. Like other addictions, meth can cause a range of adverse physical and mental health issues, including psychosis and hallucinations.
Meth mites, which are the result of hallucinations after someone uses meth, cause marks on the skin and face called meth sores. While they aren’t real mites or bugs, the sensation of bugs crawling under the skin can be deeply unsettling. This article explores what meth mites are, why they occur, and the importance of seeking treatment for meth addiction.
Common Side Effects of Meth Abuse
Meth is a stimulant drug that increases activity in the central nervous system. People choose to use meth because of its short-term effects that result in a high sensation. These effects include a higher libido, hallucinations, more energy, and excessive talking. In most cases, they only continue to use because they become dependent on meth.
If someone uses meth regularly, they may experience the following side effects:
- Dilated pupils
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Tooth decay
- Meth mouth
- Sleep deprivation
- Skin sores
Side effects will vary depending on the individual and how much of the substance they have used. If you witness someone having difficulty breathing or a seizure after using meth, get them emergency medical care as soon as possible as they may be experiencing an overdose.
What are Meth Mites?
The term “meth mites” refers to the sensation or hallucination that bugs, or “mites,” are crawling under their skin. Some people who use meth have even claimed to see these mites under their skin while hallucinating.
This sensation is medically known as formication. It’s a tactile type of hallucination that is often associated with stimulant abuse, particularly meth, but it can also occur with other drugs or medical conditions.
After people see or feel mites on their bodies, meth users will then obsessively scratch or pick these spots using their nails or another tool. This picking results in what is known as meth sores.
Symptoms of meth mites include:
- Psychotic symptoms, such as the illusion of bugs crawling on or under the skin
- Scratching at the skin
- Intense itching
- Raw, irritated skin
- Skin infections
Meth sores can happen anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the face, chest, and lower arms. They can negatively impact the individual’s skin and give it a red, blotchy appearance. While meth sores are uncomfortable and can be unpleasant to look at, they are not contagious and are only possible if someone uses meth regularly.
What Causes Meth Sores?
Meth sores are typically caused by itching and skin picking as meth users desperately try to remove the imaginary “meth bugs” or parasites from their skin. The repetitive scratching and picking can cause abrasions, cuts, and sores on the skin.
However, meth sores can also develop as a result of other skin conditions related to poor hygiene, including:
- Poor hygiene
- Toxic chemicals or contaminants in meth
Meth sores can be painful, unsightly, and increase the risk of infections and other complications.
Potential Health Risks
Having open sores on the body, combined with poor hygiene associated with meth addiction, can lead to a range of health problems, including:
- Infections – Open sores provide an entry point for bacteria, viruses, and fungi to invade the body, leading to localized infections such as cellulitis or abscesses. These infections can spread to other parts of the body or enter the bloodstream, causing systemic infections like sepsis, which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
- Skin damage – Continuous picking and scratching of the skin can lead to severe skin damage, including deep wounds, scarring, and tissue loss. It can also exacerbate new or existing skin issues, such as dermatitis, eczema, folliculitis, and acne.
- Delayed wound healing – Meth abuse can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds effectively due to vasoconstriction and compromised immune system. As a result, open sores may take longer to heal, increasing the risk of infection and further complications.
- Scarring – Severe skin damage from meth sores may result in permanent scarring, which can affect both physical appearance and self-esteem.
- Psychological distress – The presence of visible sores and skin lesions can contribute to feelings of shame, embarrassment, and social isolation. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphic disorder may worsen, as well.
Even if someone doesn’t experience mite mites, long-term meth use can be damaging to the mind and body. Potential adverse effects include:
- Heart damage
- Brain damage
- Increased risk for heart attacks and stroke
- Impaired kidneys, liver, and/or lungs
- Severe dental problems (“meth mouth”)
- Physical dependence
How to Get Rid of Meth Sores
Unfortunately, there is no way to cure or get rid of meth sores. However, there are some treatment options to help ease the sore and reduce any inflammation. These options include topical ointments, natural oils, and more products that are approved to clear the skin.
Additionally, maintaining good hygiene is essential for preventing infection and promoting wound healing. Individuals should wash the affected areas with mild soap and water regularly to keep the skin clean. They should also avoid picking or scratching at the sores to prevent further damage.
If meth sores are severe or become infected, it’s essential to seek medical evaluation and treatment from a healthcare provider. They can assess the condition of the sores, prescribe antibiotics if necessary, and provide wound care instructions.
The best way to prevent getting these sores is to stop using meth completely. However, quitting meth suddenly will result in withdrawal symptoms. If someone decides to stop using meth, they should seek medical attention or enroll in a substance abuse treatment program first.
Find Help for Meth Abuse and Addiction Today
All individuals who use or have used meth are encouraged to enroll in a meth rehab program. During rehab, they will safely detox and develop more healthy habits and behaviors. These changes are made possible by treatment methods like certain medications, non-drug-related activities, individual counseling, family education, behavioral therapies, 12-step support groups, and more.
To learn more about meth addiction treatment or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please reach out to our team of substance abuse treatment representatives. Call us today.