What causes red nose?

Red nose results from blushing of the face that is associated with strong emotions. Flushing of the face from high fever causes red nose. Certain medications and supplements can cause red nose, as well as the vitamin supplement niacin. The nose may also become red due to flushing that occurs with hot flashes related to menopause or extreme temperature changes, drinking alcohol, or eating hot or spicy foods.

Common causes of red nose

Red nose may have common causes including:

  • Acne
  • Alcohol use
  • Anger
  • Certain medications
  • Eating spicy or hot foods
  • Embarrassment
  • Feeling overly excited
  • Hot flashes such as in menopause
  • Niacin supplementation
  • Rhinophyma (enlarged, bulbous reddened nose due to unknown cause)
  • Sunburn

Disease causes of red nose

  • Infections or chronic diseases may occasionally cause red nose. Examples include:
  • Allergic reactions such as hay fever
  • Carcinoid syndrome (hormone production by a type of tumor known as a carcinoid tumor)
  • Rosacea (inflammatory skin condition affecting the face)
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (disorder in which the body attacks its own healthy cells and tissues)
  • Upper respiratory infections, such as cold or flu

Serious or life-threatening causes of red nose

In some cases, red nose may occur in the setting of a serious infection that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting including:

  • Appendicitis
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • Encephalitis (brain infection and inflammation)
  • Meningitis (infection or inflammation of the sac around the brain and spinal cord)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pyelonephritis (kidney infection)
  • Sarcoidosis (disease of skin and multiple organ systems)
  • Sepsis (widespread blood infection)

Questions for diagnosing the cause of red nose

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your red nose including:

  • How often do you have red nose?
  • When did you first notice your red nose?
  • Are episodes getting worse or more frequent?
  • Do you experience hot flashes?
  • Do you get red anywhere other than your face?
  • Do you get red nose after you drink alcohol?
  • Do you have any other symptoms?
  • What medications, vitamins and other supplements are you taking?

What are the potential complications of red nose?

If not properly treated, a red nose associated with high fever (higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) can lead to serious complications. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications including:

  • Scarring or nasal deformity
  • Spread of cancer
  • Spread of infection


  1. Rhinophyma. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001037.htm.
  2. Skin blushing/flushing. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003241.htm.
  3. Haimovic A, Sanchez M, Judson MA, Prystowsky S. Sarcoidosis: a comprehensive review and update for the dermatologist: part I. Cutaneous disease. J Am Acad Dermatol 2012; 66:699.e1.

What is red nose?

Red nose is a common symptom of emotions, infection, temperature changes, or even physical irritation. Red nose results from a rapid reddening of the face in response to strong emotions, such as embarrassment, anger, or high excitement. Red nose is also caused by conditions affecting the nose itself, such as rhinophyma (large, bulbous reddened nose due to unknown cause), or in association with ... Read more about red noseintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with red nose?

Red nose may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the nose may also involve other body systems.

Nose symptoms that may occur along with red nose

Red nose may accompany other symptoms affecting the nose including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases

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