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  5. Redness On Face: 15 Causes & 8 Ways To Reduce It

How often have you noticed your face flushing and turning red? Skin redness can have many causes – from sunburn and allergies to rosacea and spicy food. While prevention is the best cure for some conditions, some might need medical attention. Find out all its causes, solutions and more.

What Causes Redness In The Face?

1. Rosacea

Rosacea is a skin condition that usually affects the face, and is more commonly found in light skinned women. Its cause is unknown, but there are triggers which can be controlled with treatment. [1]

2. Spicy Foods and Alcohol

Intake of spicy food, alcohol, cheese, hot drinks, caffeine and aerobic running too can trigger facial redness.

Alcohol flushing is prevalent among Asians due to the lack of an enzyme. Spicy foods dilate the blood vessels due to their heat generating capability, which increases the flow of blood to the face, making it look red.

3. Contact Dermatitis

Redness due to an allergic reaction caused by the skin’s contact with foreign substances is termed as contact dermatitis [2]. For example, fragrances, poison ivy or soaps and hair dyes can lead to allergic reactions.

4. Eczema

Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis. This is a rash that can appear all of a sudden and makes the skin extremely dry, itchy and scaly. It usually appears on the feet, but is known to affect facial skin as well. [3]

5. Reaction to Medication

The intake of some medications can cause an adverse, allergic reaction to the skin making it go red, especially if you are outdoors. A classic example would be the use of a face cream containing hydrocortisone [4].

6. Retinol Overuse

The use of retinoid [5] creams makes the skin sensitive to the sun, which in turn causes redness on the face.

7. Over-Exfoliated Skin

If you develop itchy and red skin immediately after exfoliating, which lasts for over 24 hours, it is a sign that you are doing it too frequently. Over exfoliation leads to redness especially when you have dry skin.

8. Shingles

This is a condition where a blister like rash appears on the face and usually elsewhere on the body. It is an infection that starts with a tingling sensation. If the rash appears on the face, immediate treatment is advised. [6]

9. Lupus

The autoimmune disease where the human body’s immune system starts to attack its own body parts is known as lupus. When it attacks the skin, a butterfly shaped rash usually appears on the face and cheeks. It can also cause swelling. [7]

10. Genetic Flushing

This condition occurs after the consumption of alcohol, where flushes or red blotches appear on the face, neck and the also entire body at times. It is quite prevalent among Asians, due to the accumulation of acetaldehyde, caused by the absence of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (helps break down alcohol).

11. Dry Skin and Acne

Acne usually appears on oily skin. It is a result of clogged pores due to excessive oil secretion by the sebaceous glands. A breakout can cause the skin to look red.

Acne can also occur on dry and sensitive skin, when it comes in contact with certain particles. Being out in the sun without applying sunscreen can also cause redness.

12. Hot Weather (Sun Exposure)

Exposure to the sun is one of the most common causes of skin redness. It eventually becomes sun burnt skin. This is due to the damage from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, where the body sends more blood to the exposed skin to repair the damage.

13. Weather Change

Sometimes, the advent of hot summer or humid conditions usually gives rise to prickly heat, a form of rash that causes redness. Usually, it is found on the torso and back. But at times, it can affect the face too.

14. Inflammatory Skin

Inflammation on your skin can be due to contact with poison ivy, an allergic reaction to a food item or dermatitis. Symptoms include redness on the face and swelling. Some people are even known to have red and inflamed skin due to stress or bacteria.

15. Poor Quality Cosmetics

When it comes to skin creams and colour cosmetics, it is best to play safe and go with trusted brands. The dubious quality of ingredients used in cosmetics that are not prepared in a hygienic and scientific environment can often cause the skin to break out into a rash.

How To Reduce Redness On Face?

Women applying serum on face

1. Cool Water Bath or Cold Compress

For heat, sunburn or rosacea-related redness, a cool bath helps to bring the rash down. A cool compress can help reduce facial inflammation and give relief to sensitive skin.

2. Salicylic Acid or Glycolic Acid Peels

Glycolic acid peels [8] remove dead cells from the surface of the skin, brightening the exposed layers. Salicylic acid peels [9] are good for treating redness and blemishes caused by acne. Any chemical peel should be applied by a trained cosmetologist or dermatologist.

3. Sunscreen

For redness due to weather change, using sunscreen with a high SPF helps reduce the rash. Patients on retinoid therapy are advised to avoid excessive sun exposure and take precautionary measures (like use of sunscreens) for sun protection.

4. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera in gel or cream form can help reduce redness and itchiness. The components in aloe vera soothe the skin and promote regeneration of new skin, while helping the skin to heal faster.

5. Cucumber Slices

Cucumbers are known for their cooling qualities. So applying cucumber juice or placing cucumber slices on the face and eyes can help to soothe the skin and reduce redness.

6. Choose Fragrance-Free Products

If your skin is sensitive and reacts to strong fragrances, look for hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products for your skin. These are specifically made to suit sensitive skin, which is prone to redness on application. Avoid deodorants, skin creams and cosmetics with strong fragrances.

7. Changing Your Lifestyle

If you have genetic flushing, avoiding consumption of alcohol is the best way to beat it. Similarly, if you have oily skin, it demands a change in your diet and reduced consumption of oily, high-fat foods. Wearing sunscreen every time you step outdoors also helps.

8. Medication Related Redness

If your skin is turning red due to any medication, we suggest you see your doctor for that ailment and ask him/her to prescribe a drug you don’t react to.

When To See A Dermatologist?

It is suggested that you visit a dermatologist if the rash persists for more than two weeks; or if you have any kind of pain or itchiness. Conditions like lupus, shingles, dermatitis, rosacea, allergic reactions to medicines etc. require medical attention.

Redness on the face can be due to several reasons. Depending on the duration and severity, you can opt for simple solutions or consult a dermatologist.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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