Despite its association with passion, love, and vibrancy the color red is not what most people want to see on their faces when they look in the mirror. Redness on your face develops from inflammation and from dilated tiny blood vessels right at the surface of your skin. Sometimes the redness can be sudden, whereas other times it can develop slowly over many years. Here are five things your should know about facial redness and what to do about it.
1. The most common cause of facial redness is rosacea. Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that leads to red, sensitive skin and sometime to pimples on the nose and cheeks similar to acne. People with rosacea often have sensitive skin that stings when exposed to sun or cold and turns bright red when they eat hot or spicy foods. If you have rosacea, then try products that contain anti-inflammatory and anti-redness ingredients such as feverfew (found in Aveeno facial products) or licorice (found in Eucerin facial products).
2. Over-exfoliating or scrubbing your skin can lead to redness. This is common among young women with acne. Remember that acne is from bacteria trapped in clogged pores. Scrubbing with apricot scrubs or using alcohol based toners will not help erase your acne, but it certainly will worsen the inflammation. Often this makes a bad situation worse. Unless you have very oily, sebaceous skin, remember that scrubbing is best done in moderation and in the middle of winter when your skin is already is dry and sensitive, scrubs might not be needed at all.
3. Excess sun exposure over years can lead to redness. The ultraviolet radiation from the sun triggers blood vessels to grow like weeds across your face. If you look closely at some people’s skin, you can see that diffuse redness is actually millions of tiny threadlike vessels right at the surface. This condition can be treated by using a laser that targets blood vessels. The laser can literally explode the tiny vessels, destroying them along with their unwanted redness. The downside is that you will often have obvious bruising for a few days; however, when the bruising heals, the redness is often significantly reduced and sometimes is erased altogether.
4. Allergic contact dermatitis can also cause redness on your face. Common causes of allergy include chemical sunscreens, preservatives in cosmetics, hair dyes, and fragrances. Skin allergies occur when your immune system reacts to a particular allergen. It is the same reaction as poison ivy or poison oak and can lead to redness, scaling, and itching. If you have a rash around your eyes, a rash that is itchy, or a chronic redness and scaling on your face, then see your physician. He or she can do patch testing to determine if you have a skin allergy and can give you a list of products to avoid.
5. Rarely is redness on the face the result of an underlying medical condition. Women with lupus, an autoimmune disease that can affect many organs, sometimes develop a bright red rash on their cheeks and nose, often called a butterfly rash because from a distance it looks like a butterfly on their face. The rash is triggered by sun exposure but can occur any time of the year. If you have the sudden development of this type of facial redness, then you should see a physician. A few blood tests can diagnose the condition and sometimes treatment is needed to keep the immune system from flaring.
Photo: Brent and Marilynn, Flickr.com