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What Causes Drug Addicts To Get Sores?

What Causes Drug Addicts To Get Sores?

What Causes Drug Addicts To Get Sores?

For individuals who become addicted to drugs, he or she can develop physical conditions that can affect the entire body.  One area of the body that can be affected by chronic drug abuse is the skin.  When the skin is compromised by excessive drug use, it can develop sores.  Why are drug addicts susceptible to developing sores?


Here are several reasons why drug addicts can be susceptible to developing sores:

  • Infection in Area of Transmission 

Whether a drug is taken orally, injected into the skin, or absorbed through another part of the body, the skin around the area of transmission is involved.  Drugs penetrate the delicate composition of the skin.  An inflammatory response is initiated to protect the skin from a harmful invasion.  The skin will be irritated and inflamed.  Because drugs can impair the body’s ability to heal itself, repeated skin irritation and inflammation following drug use will create a sore that is infected on the skin. Cellulitis is a skin infection that is commonly seen in drug addicts. When a sore develops on the skin, bacteria can cause cellulitis in the area where the sore is present.


Another infection that can occur from a sore that has not healed is referred to as necrotic lesion.  Often caused by heroin mixed with a quinine substance abuse, a necrotic lesion is a sore that has caused the death of skin cells in the area and surrounding tissues.  Quinine is used most often in street drug use.  The sore will develop bacteria that will eat or destroy the healthy cells in the injection area.


  • Distortion of the Skin

If the drug is administered through a needle or syringe, the skin can become inflamed and damaged.  Repeated drug abuse through this transmission will cause the skin around the injection mark to splinter and pucker. The skin becomes distorted and stretched.  The skin will develop a sore when it has been distorted.  A sore on or near the injection site is from a bacteria or toxin that has invaded the dermis of the skin.  The dermis is the connective tissue that encompasses the nerves, sweat glands, hair follicles, and oil-producing cells in the body.


  • Mutations of the Skin

Prolonged drug abuse can inhibit the ability to repair and heal any tissue or organ in the body.  Open sores that are unable to repair and heal will create permanent mutations of the skin.  Permanent mutations of the skin consist of the formation of scarring acne, hemorrhages of the skin layers, and necrotic lesions.  If sores penetrate deeper into the skin layers, it can cause damage to precious blood vessels and nerve supply.  Multiple track marks can cause the collapse of the skin and veins beneath the skin.


  • Hallucinations from Drug Use

Chronic drug abuse can cause an individual to experience hallucinations that affect the body’s ability to function normally.  One type of hallucination that occurs with a chronic drug user is when he or she feels that bugs are crawling or invading the skin.  The constant thought that bugs are creeping along the skin will cause the person to itch and dig at the skin.  The skin becomes inflamed and a sore will develop.  “Meth mites” is the term given by doctors when a meth user has a hallucination that bugs are suffocating them. Another drug that has been linked the development of “mites” among chronic drug users is fentanyl.


  • Trying to Cover Up Existing Sores

Chronic drug users will go to great lengths to hide their addiction by utilizing several disguising methods.  For drug users that experience problems with their skin,  he or she will try to apply creams, get a suntan, or even get a tattoo to make it disappear.  Unfortunately, these methods do not work because the skin has already become victim to sores.  Unless the cream is filled with good bacterial-fighting powers,  it can actually make the sore even worse.  Hitting the beach for some good old Vitamin D will cause the skin layer to burn more.  And it’s a waste of money and extra pain when a new tattoo is placed over a sore on the skin.  It will enhance the appearance of the skin as well as introduce bacteria that will destroy and prevent any skin cell regrowth.


Additional References: Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology, JAMA Network

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