What Causes Red Splotches on Facial Skin?

Red, blotchy facial skin is unsightly and can be uncomfortable, depending on the cause of the blotches. When blotches suddenly appear on your face, an allergic reaction or skin condition may be to blame. Your doctor can prescribe an appropriate treatment to clear up red skin blotches and ease any accompanying itching.

Young woman looking at her skin in the mirror. (Image: DeanDrobot/iStock/Getty Images)

Allergic Reactions

Ingredients in food, skin products or clothing can cause allergic reactions that result in red blotches, patches or welts on the skin. Urticaria, commonly called hives, causes itchy red welts that develop when you have a reaction to medication or food. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the population will have one episode of hives in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.


You may also notice red blotches and itching if you have contact dermatitis, another skin condition caused by allergies. Contact dermatitis causes skin inflammation after your skin is in direct contact with an allergen or irritating substance, such as a detergent, solvent, metal, skin-care product, soap, acid or chemical. The condition may also occur after applying topical medication to your face or following exposure to poison ivy. The MedlinePlus online medical reference reports that the allergic reaction is often delayed, with the rash appearing 24 to 48 hours after exposure. An allergy to a particular chemical or substance can develop even if you have safely used the product in the past.


Rosacea is a skin disease that causes large patches of red skin on the cheeks, forehead, nose and chin. You may also notice tiny spider veins and small bumps that look like pimples. If the disease isn't treated, eye complications can occur. Untreated rosacea can also result in enlargement of the nose and puffy cheeks. Fair-skinned adults between the ages of 30 to 50 may be at greater risk, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Weather Effects

The weather can also play a part in the development of red blotches on your face. If your skin tends to dry out during the winter months, red patches may develop anywhere your skin lacks moisture, including your face. Exposure to windy conditions can also dry the skin and cause red blotches.


Doctors prescribe cortisone creams, oral and topical antibiotics and medications containing, metronidazole, retinoids, sulfacatemide and benzoyl peroxide to treat rosacea. Although hives usually disappear on their own, taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can be helpful in relieving itching. In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe cortisone or an injection of epinephrine to relieve symptoms. Treatment of contact dermatitis involves identifying and avoiding the allergen or irritant and applying over-the-counter or prescription-strength corticosteroid ointments or creams. Keeping skin moisturized with lotions and creams can help you avoid red blotches due to dry skin.

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