red patches on your face

3 Reasons for Red Patches on Your Face (and Treatment Options)

While there are many reasons for red patches on your face to appear, all of these reasons can be summed up into three categories: allergens and irritants, environmental factors, and health conditions. We’ll break each of these categories down, as well as discuss treatment options for red patches on your face. 

Can Stress Cause Face Rashes? 

Yes, stress can cause facial rashes, more commonly known as hives. In fact, it’s one of the environmental factors that can cause red patches on your face. Hives can also appear on the neck, chest, and arms. They can range in size from tiny dots to large welts and may itch or burn. However, stress is not the only cause for facial redness or rashes. 

Why Do I Have Red Blotches on My Face?

As we mentioned above, there are three main categories for possible causes of the red patches on your face. However, these are general categories, and there are many different things within each of these categories that could be causing those red patches. It’s important to seek proper diagnosis and care from a board-certified dermatologist. 

  • Allergens and Irritants

At some point in your life, you’ve probably had an allergic reaction. When an allergic reaction causes a rash, it’s known as contact dermatitis. The face is actually a common place for contact dermatitis to appear, as we often touch our face throughout the day and come into contact with many other things, such as soap or hair dye, that can be irritating to the skin.

Spicy food and alcohol are other common irritants that can cause a red rash on the face. Some medications can cause a red rash to appear as well, especially if you are outdoors. A common medication in this scenario is a cream containing hydrocortisone. 

Cosmetics and facial creams can cause red patches on your face if they aren’t made with quality ingredients. And for those with sensitive skin, even if the product is high quality, a red rash may appear if it is not made specifically for sensitive skin. Other common irritants include cleaning products, perfume/cologne, chlorinated water, plants, and nickel.

  • Environmental Factors

The main environmental factor that can cause red patches on your face is the weather. If you live anywhere (ahem, Pennsylvania) that experiences extreme changes in weather, you know what we’re talking about. And if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you haven’t also experienced weather-induced facial redness.

Hot, humid conditions can cause prickly heat, a rash that causes redness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cold weather can also cause your face to turn red from dry skin. This is especially the case if you live in windy areas or forget to protect your skin from the winter weather. 

  • Health Conditions

This category probably has the longest list of different causes, but we’ll focus on some of the most common causes for red patches on the face. These include seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, shingles, and rosacea. Although all these conditions cause facial redness, they have other key identifiers to help you obtain the correct treatment. We’ll dive into those below. 

What Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Look Like?

Two common forms of seborrheic dermatitis are cradle cap and dandruff, and while neither are contagious, they can cause discomfort and/or embarrassment. Cradle cap occurs on an infant’s head (hence the name cradle cap) and often appears as white or yellow scaly patches. 

When seborrheic dermatitis continues past infancy, it becomes more flakey and itchy. This is when it is more commonly known as dandruff. It can also sometimes be pink and greasy and extend beyond the scalp to the face, ears, back, and chest.

What Does Eczema Look Like?

There are many different types of eczema. The most common form of eczema is atopic dermatitis. It’s very common in children, but symptoms often become milder as you age. It is often associated with a history of asthma or seasonal allergies. Because symptoms can become less intense as you age, they can differ slightly depending on your age. 

In infants, eczema appears suddenly and causes the skin to become scaly, dry, and very itchy. The affected areas can sometimes drain fluid. In children and adults, it often occurs in skin creases, such as on the neck, elbows, and knees. It is bumpy, slightly lighter or darker than your normal skin tone, and the affected area can thicken. 

What Does Psoriasis Look Like? 

Similar to eczema, there are different types of psoriasis, but the most common form is plaque psoriasis. Approximately 6.7 million adults in the US have been affected by plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis appears as plaques of red skin covered by silver-colored scales. They’re often painful and itchy, as well as often becoming cracked and bloody. 

What Do Shingles Look Like?

Shingles are a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. However, chickenpox and shingles are different conditions. The skin affected by shingles is often sensitive to the touch, and at times can be painful. After the pain appears, blisters and a red rash develop. The rash most often appears on the abdomen, but also occurs on the face and other areas of the body.

What Does Rosacea Look Like? 

In case you haven’t noticed a recurring theme, there are different types of rosacea, just like many of the other health conditions discussed. Although each type of rosacea is most likely to affect your face, they each have their own set of symptoms. 

Ocular rosacea causes the eyes to become red and irritated, as well as causes swollen eyelids and a bump often mistaken for a sty. Phymatous rosacea causes your skin to thicken and form a bumpy texture. Papulopustular rosacea, also known as acne rosacea, is identified by large, painful blemishes deep within the skin. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea, the most common type of rosacea, is known to cause flushing, redness, and visible blood vessels. 

How Do I Get Rid of Red Patches on My Face?

The treatment for red patches on your face will vary based on the cause. However, your dermatologist will likely prescribe one (or a combination) of the following as the best treatment for facial redness: topical products, prescription drugs, laser treatment, or light therapy.

Topical products are most commonly used for rosacea, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis treatment. Acne wash or Azelaic Gel can be prescribed as part of your rosacea treatment. For eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, products can include dandruff shampoo, barrier repair creams, and anti-itch creams and ointments. 

Prescription drugs are a common aspect of rosacea, shingles, and psoriasis treatment. Steroids can be used to treat small patches of psoriasis and retinoids, in pill form, can help to slow the production of skin, thereby reducing plaques. Antiviral medications are used in shingles treatment to shorten the duration of and lessen the intensity of symptoms. If topical methods and prescription drugs have not alleviated your symptoms, your dermatologist may consider prescribing laser treatment or light therapy depending on your symptoms. 

If you are experiencing red patches on your face, contact us at Vujevich Dermatology Associates to schedule an appointment or fill out our form below. Our expert team will build an individualized treatment plan to alleviate your symptoms and work with you to lessen the severity of future occurrences.  You can reach our team at 412-429-2570. You can also follow us on Facebook to see what’s new in the world of dermatology. 

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