What is Rhinophyma?

Rhinophyma is a condition that involves reddening and thickening of the skin on and around the nose, resulting in enlargement of the area and growths forming.

It is an uncommon condition, resulting from particularly severe and untreated rosacea. Similar to the prevalence of rosacea, more males than females are usually affected.


The cause of rhinophyma is not well understood. It was once believed that alcohol played a role in the pathophysiology, however is now believed to possibly worsen of the condition but not cause it.  There does not seem to be a strong hereditary link either.

Instead, it is thought that severe cases of the skin condition rosacea can lead to enlargement of the blood vessels in the nose, thickening of the surrounding skin with hyperplastic tissue growth in the nose.


Rhinophyma is characterized by severe symptoms of the rosacea, which include:

  • Growths forming
  • Increased oil glands
  • Reddening of skin
  • Thickening of skin
  • Wax-like surface

Usually the symptoms are do not cause other inconveniences, such as aching or itching. The symptoms are purely visual, which can cause self-consciousness in sufferers and affect their ability to interact with other people.


Diagnosis of rhinophyma is primarily conducted upon visual inspection. In the early stages it may be possible to manage the condition pharmacologically, although there is currently no cure available.

Some topical creams and gels may effectively reduce symptoms, in addition to long-term oral antibiotics. Isotretinoin, a tablet used for the treatment of acne has also found to help some people.

However, for advanced cases of rhinophyma, pharmacological treatment is rarely successful and in most cases surgery is needed to remove the growths due to the condition. There are several surgical techniques used to do this in practice, but all produce a similar effect in the removal of the growths.


Even after surgical removal of nodules cause by rhinophyma, it is possible for them to return. It is for this reason that it is important for people who suffer from the condition to take appropriate measures to prevent worsening of the condition.

Some triggers that can lead to a flare up of symptoms may include:

  • Exposure to the sun
  • Emotional stress
  • Extreme temperatures – hot or cold
  • Heavy exercise
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Spicy foods

Where possible, avoiding these triggers can help to prevent the condition from worsening to the extent that surgery is needed. Medication used to treat rosacea may also be helpful in maintaining control over the condition.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 26, 2019

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


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