What Causes Itchy Red Skin Under the Eyes & Around the Mouth?

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Woman scratching her face (Image: Tharakorn/iStock/Getty Images)

Having red skin on your face may embarrass you, especially when it’s around your mouth and eyes. A number of things can cause red skin from birth marks to viruses or skin reactions. It’s best to have your dermatologist properly diagnose you before treating yourself with over-the-counter medications that could worsen your symptoms.

Contact Dermatitis

Allergic reactions can cause itchy, red skin on your face. Contact dermatitis -- an allergic reaction to something that contacts your skin -- can be caused by shampoo, fragrances, toothpaste or cosmetics used on your head and face. This condition can also be caused by nickel, present in tools used to apply your makeup. Allergens can also be transferred from your hands to your face. In some cases, a cell phone held against the side of your face may cause an allergic reaction.

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis can cause redness around your mouth, nose, eyes and cheeks. This condition primarily affects women as it rarely occurs in men. Your skin may itch or feel tender to the touch with periorial dermatitis. Nearby skin may become dry and flaky. The exact cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown, but individuals who have an oily face seem to develop the condition. Neglecting to wash your face, using certain facial creams or lotions and topical steroid creams such as hydrocortisone seem to be the culprits in cases of perioral dermatitis. Treatment consists of discontinuing all facial creams, lotions and moisturizers as well as washing only with water while the rash is present. If necessary, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics for six to 12 weeks.

Staph Infections

A staphylococcus, or staph, infection is a bacterial infection that can occur on almost any region of your body, but especially around your mouth and eyes, because they are smaller areas of skin where the bacteria loves to breed. Staph infections typically occur when you have an open wound or sore on your skin and the staph bacteria enters the cut, resulting in an infection. You can contract staph bacteria from touching certain objects such as door knobs, telephones or other hard surfaces but it's usually spread person-to-person. Staph infections usually cause red, itchy and swollen skin. If the infection is around your eyes, your eyes may swell and become irritated when the infection reaches the glands that are in your eyes.

Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus can occur anywhere on your body, but you may experience cold sores primarily around your mouth, nose or other areas of your face. Herpes simplex virus causes blisters and sores that may become infected. One or more blisters can develop at a time and generally clear up within seven to 10 days of an outbreak. If the blister breaks, clear fluid may ooze out of it, which results in crusting. As it begins to heal, the crusting falls off, which can result in slightly red skin.

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