Blotchy skin is an extremely common problem that can affect people at any age. Some people experience red blotches on skin every now and then, while others have to deal with blotchy skin every day. In any case, red blotchy skin can be embarrassing and lead to low self-esteem. While red blotches on skin may seem hard to control, there are several things you can do to prevent and treat blotchy skin when it does appear. In this post, we’ll explain several causes of red blotches on skin along with 5 ways to get rid of blotchy skin.
What causes blotchy skin?
So what causes blotchy skin? Unfortunately, there is no clear cut answer to this question because numerous factors can contribute to red patches on skin. For some people, red blotches on skin occur only occasionally due to environmental factors. For others, a blotchy rash appears every day, seemingly out of nowhere. Below we’ll explore all of these contributing factors so you’ll have a better idea of what causes blotchy skin.
One cause of blotchy skin that most people are familiar with is sunburn. When the skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light for too long, it causes DNA damage. The body senses this damage and over the course of several hours starts flooding the area with blood to help with the healing process. Ultimately, this leads to red patches on skin that was exposed to the sun, as well as pain and inflammation (aka sunburn).
Extreme temperatures are another cause of red blotches on skin. For example, when the temperature outside is very hot, the skin can break out in a heat rash. A heat rash occurs when sweat ducts become clogged and the sweat cannot get to the surface of the skin. Instead, it becomes trapped beneath the skin’s surface causing a red blotchy rash. Very cold temperatures can also cause red blotches on skin. As temperatures drop, so does the moisture content in your skin, leading to a red blotchy rash. A final weather condition that can cause blotchy skin is wind, especially on days that are dry. The combination of dry weather and wind can cause chapping of the cheeks and neck, leading to red, blotchy skin.
Allergic reactions are another very common cause of red blotches on skin. Millions of people have seasonal allergies because of pollen from blooming flowers during the spring. The common symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing, congestion, and runny nose, are caused by inhaled pollen. However, some people also react to pollen landing on their skin. This reaction can result in red blotches on skin that itch. Hives, also known as urticaria, are another form of red blotches on skin that itch due to an allergic reaction. The reaction is due to an allergen, such as a food, fabric, latex, medication, etc.
Certain mental states, such as stress and anxiety, can also cause red blotches on the face and neck. During a stressful situation, a red blotchy rash will most often appear on the face, neck, and upper chest. This type of blotchy skin will usually resolve itself once the stress has passed. Even though stress-related blotchy skin is nothing to be concerned about from a health standpoint, it can be embarrassing and cause low self-esteem since it occurs in visible areas.
The microbiome is a population of many species of microbes (also called flora), such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and mites that live on the skin. These microbes are important for skin health, and the skin must play a balancing act between beneficial, neutral, and harmful flora. When there’s more harmful microbes than beneficial microbes, skin conditions like acne, sensitive skin, and red dry patches on the face can develop. Thus, keeping the microbiome balanced is critical in maintaining healthy skin and preventing blotchy skin.
There are many health conditions that can cause red blotches on skin, including eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and shingles. Eczema appears as red patches on skin that are itchy, dry, and inflamed. Psoriasis causes a red blotchy rash that can be itchy and painful. Rosacea causes red blotches on face that come and go, typically on the nose, chin, cheeks, and forehead. Shingles appears as red blotches on skin, on only one side of your body. The shingles rash may burn, itch, and even blister. All of these skin conditions occur due to dysfunction of the immune system. If you believe one of these skin conditions is causing you to have blotchy skin, you should see a doctor to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
Lastly, some people are genetically predisposed to blotchy skin. They may experience red patches on skin from a very young age. Over time, the red blotches on skin may worsen due to exposure to environmental factors that worsen the condition. It may seem like there is nothing you can do if you inherit blotchy skin, but there actually are several treatments and preventive measures you can take to prevent your blotchy skin from getting worse.
5 ways to get rid of blotchy skin
1. Always wear sun protection
Nearly everyone has experienced red blotches on skin due to sunburn, even though preventing this type of blotchy skin is pretty simple. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, you should wear a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen on all sun-exposed skin daily. If you have a condition that causes blotchy skin all the time, such as rosacea or eczema, it is typically recommended to use a mineral sunscreen rather than a chemical sunscreen. This is because mineral sunscreen ingredients, like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, are not absorbed by the skin.
2. Don’t expose skin to extreme temperatures
If you live in a climate where extreme temperatures are common, it’s important to protect your skin before heading outside. Hot temperatures will not only require adequate sunscreen, but also protective clothing such as hats and lightweight long sleeved shirts and pants. In extreme cold temperatures, be sure to cover exposed skin by wearing coats and scarves.
It’s also important not to expose skin to extreme temperatures in the shower or while washing your face. Even though a hot shower or bath can be relaxing after a long day, the hot water can definitely cause red blotches on skin. Similarly, very cold water can cause a skin reaction that appears within minutes after cold exposure in some people.
3. Talk to your doctor about allergy medication
A red blotchy rash due to seasonal allergies can often be treated with over-the-counter allergy medications, such as oral antihistamines. Taking a medication daily during spring can help to prevent red blotches on skin that itch, as well as other allergy symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what type of allergy medication is best for you.
4. Stress reduction techniques
Since stress and anxiety can cause red blotches on face and neck, practicing stress reduction techniques can help to prevent or reduce the occurence of blotchy skin. Examples of stress reduction techniques include deep breathing, meditation, and exercise. Incorporating these techniques on a regular basis may help to prevent stress-related blotchy skin.
5. Restore your skin’s microbiome
Keeping the microbiome balanced is critical when it comes to maintaining healthy skin and preventing red blotchy skin. There are many factors that can disrupt the skin’s microbiome, but one of the main causes is using harsh skin care products. For example, a product that is not pH-balanced can disrupt the microbiome because the beneficial microbes cannot live in environments that are too acidic or too alkaline. Furthermore, ingredients like synthetic dyes, fragrances, and denatured alcohol can disrupt the microbiome. Using high quality, pH-balanced skin care products that do not contain these ingredients can help to prevent an imbalanced microbiome.
If the damage is already done, a great way to restore balance to the microbiome is to use probiotic skin care products. Probiotics include various strains of helpful bacteria that collaborate with your skin. Scientists have identified a few strains of bacteria that are able to improve the appearance of the skin by strengthening it through improved barrier function. Overall, probiotic skin care products are another way to get rid of red blotches on skin.
Treatment for red blotchy skin on face
In addition to the 5 ways to get rid of blotchy skin we mentioned above, you can also use topical skin care products to help with red blotches on your face. Our favorite product to help with blotchy skin is Formulyst Advanced Repair Serum. This moisturizing serum naturally comforts and calms the skin while helping to optimize skin hydration and smooth the appearance of wrinkles.
References: WebMD.com “Why Is My Skin So Blotchy?”, LiveScience.com “Science of Summer: What Causes Sunburns?” July 2013, MedicineNet.com “Heat Rash”, MDedge.com “The role of the skin microbiome in skin care” Nov 2018