What Are the Causes of a Red Nose?

Various internal and external conditions can result in a red nose, including allergic reactions, alcohol consumption, skin irritation and prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Recognizing and treating the causes of a red nose may help it to return to its normal color.


Rosacea is an incurable skin disorder marked by redness on the forehead, cheeks and nose. The cause of this condition is unknown, but damaged blood vessels and inflamed papules (skin lesions in the form of small bumps) cause the visible redness on the face. Although there is no cure for rosacea, the use of oral and topical antibiotics may reduce the redness on the nose and other areas of the face.


Drinking alcohol causes a reaction in some individuals that leads to redness of the nose, as well as other areas of the face. Alcohol causes red blood cells to group together and block blood vessels, leading to cell death.The red skin on the nose develops when capillaries break due to the pressure of being blocked by the red blood cells.


Frostbite occurs when the body is exposed to temperatures cold enough to freeze the skin and the tissue beneath it. Frostnip (the initial phase of the condition) and mild frostbite can both irritate the skin, and give it a reddened appearance.

Because frostbite is more likely to occur in the smaller, more exposed areas of the body, a red nose is common during the frostnip stage. Warming and thawing the affected skin will usually reverse mild forms of frostbite, but if the condition progresses, medical attention is necessary.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes itchy, red skin on the nose, face and other areas 4. This condition is not dangerous, but it can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Red, itchy and flaky skin is a typical symptom of seborrheic dermatitis, which is usually caused by such factors as infection, stress and winter weather 4. Treatments for this condition include the use of nonprescription anti-fungal medications.


When the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, the resulting allergic reaction can cause a number of symptoms, including reddening of the skin on the nose. Allergies can occur as the result of an adverse reaction to a number of items, including food, drugs, animal dander and pollen.

A red nose is a relatively minor allergic reaction; effective treatments include avoiding the substance that caused the reaction, and prescription or nonprescription medications.

A person whose red nose is part of a larger allergic reaction—especially one that involves shortness of breath, swelling in the throat, or rapid pulse—should seek immediate medical attention.