Itchy, Red Skin on the Face

man with itchy beard
A man is itching his face. (Image: nebari/iStock/Getty Images)

It's hard to put your game face on when your cheeks are broken out in an irritating rash. Itchy, red skin on your face can make you self-conscious as well as uncomfortable, and may be caused by a temporary minor reaction or by a serious underlying medical condition.

Types

Itchy red skin on the face can be temporary, such as sunburn or an episode of contact dermatitis, or ongoing, including disorders such as rosacea or eczema. The skin condition may be effectively superficial, requiring only time and soothing lotions to heal it, or it may be systemic, requiring dietary and lifestyle changes and pharmaceutical treatment such as antibiotics. Consult your physician, as only skilled observation and appropriate testing can determine which type of facial skin rash you have.

Significance

An itchy, red rash on your face can signify a serious underlying medical condition, such as chronic eczema or icthyosis, a genetic disorder involving a continual build-up of excessive dead skin cells, according to the University of Iowa Health Care system. In the case of atopic dermatitis, the rash may indicate that you should make lifestyle changes, such as switching to non-allergenic soaps, laundry detergents or makeup brands. Because a rash on the face is so obvious, it can create significant negative emotional and self-image problems. But attempting to hide a facial rash with heavy cover-up creams may only further irritate the skin and make it worse.

Prevention/Solution

Regularly remove makeup and wash your face with mild soap and water to prevent and resolve acne-related redness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Shade your face and wear sunscreen to avoid the red, itching, peeling effects of sunburn. Take short showers using mild soap, followed promptly by a moisturizer designed for facial use to prevent red, dry winter skin, advises the University of Iowa Health Care system. Avoid spicy foods, alcohol or allergens known to trigger reactions to prevent outbreaks of rosacea, eczema or contact dermatitis.

Identification

Your physician can best identify the cause and nature of an itchy red skin condition on your face. However, assessing your symptoms may help you determine whether your rash might be a common condition that may be treated without medical intervention, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Small pimples and blackheads that may also appear on your chest and back indicate acne, while a flushed appearance around the cheeks and forehead may indicate rosacea. A red, swollen area around a cut indicates cellulitis, which may require antibiotic treatment, while random itchy red spots may be insect bites. Red itchy bumps that appear suddenly may be hives.

Warning

Patches of red, itchy skin are often caused by allergic reactions. In extreme cases, allergic reactions can lead to severe medical consequences. See your doctor right away if you develop a fever, if red or bruiselike spots appear shortly after taking medications, or if the irritated area is raised, hot, or includes target-like bumps, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Each of these symptoms may indicate a serious medical condition requiring antibiotics, antihistamines or other prompt medical treatment.

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