Cocaine contains agents that lead to low white cell count or dying skin tissue, giving people the appearance of having rotting flesh, says a study.
Reported by Time.com, the study on the illegal drug has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The discovery was made by doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York, reports The Daily Telegraph.
In the study, boffins found that women who had a history of cocaine use also tended to have discolorations on various body parts like their cheeks, buttocks, thighs and earlobes. Those symptoms are consistent with use of the medication levamisole, which is used by veterinarians for de-worming farm animals.
The medication is also used, however, in the illicit drug industry to "stretch" cocaine, possibly for more profit or a more potent high.
"Almost 80 percent of the cocaine coming into this country has levamisole mixed in," said Dr. Ghinwa Dumyati, a University of Rochester medical professor.
"The result can be the death of the epidermis or outer layer of skin," he said.