The cause of a bulbous nose

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A bulbous nose is actually a condition called rhinophyma, in which a person's nose appears to be large, red and bulb-shaped. While there is no one defining cause of a bulbous nose, several factors contribute to rhinophyma.


Rhinophyma is actually a severe case of rosacea. Rosacea is a skin condition that involves inflammation of the skin on the face. Rosacea may affect the nose, causing the skin on the nose to thicken and the oil glands to swell. When this happens, the nose becomes bulbous and takes on a large, red appearance.


It is not known what precisely causes rosacea and in particular, rhinophyma, but there are a number of factors which can cause the condition to flare up or appear worse. Extreme heat or cold can make rosacea worse. High stress levels and emotional distress can also be a trigger.

Drinking and Rhinophyma

While a bulbous nose is usually associated with drinking and alcoholism, this is usually not the case. While alcohol can cause the pre-existing condition to appear worse, it is rosacea which is still the underlying cause of a bulbous nose. However, those who suffer from rhinophyma should stay away from alcohol as drinking can cause the skin to appear ruddier, especially in rosacea-affected areas.


There is no cure for a bulbous nose but many treatment options are available. Antibiotics and acne prescriptions may be prescribed to reduce the redness and swelling. Very severe cases may be treatable with plastic surgery, during which the tip of the nose is reshaped and tissue removed. However, this is not always permanent and the condition may return. Talk to your physician about what treatment options are right for you.

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