What Are the Causes of Facial Redness And How Do You Treat Them?

Evening out your complexion can be challenging, especially for those of us who are prone to redness. The first thing to understand is that not all facial redness has the same root cause.” Some people just get red and flushed, while others may have real erythema, or even hives,” says Dr. Kenneth Mark, a cosmetic dermatologist.

And, it doesn’t end there.” Dr. Ted Lain, a partner dermatologist at SkinCeuticals, says, “Too aggressive an exfoliation can lead to inflammation and redness, followed by an allergic reaction to the product. If your symptoms start to feel painful, dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin, Dr. Howard Sobel, points out that if your symptoms start to feel painful, it could mean there’s an underlying skin problem causing redness and you should see a dermatologist.

As you may have guessed, different causes of redness transform once they manifest themselves on the skin, some much more severe than others. Read on to find out what’s causing your redness and how to treat it.


Is hives an allergic reaction or rosacea?
“When it comes to hives, some people will have some onset and generally go away on their own within 24 hours, with or without a known cause, such as hot or cold water (a condition called cholestatic hives), while rosacea usually has certain triggers that vary from person to person,” explains Dr. Mark.” For example, one person may be red from red wine, another person may be red from caffeine, another person may be red from sun exposure, and another person may be red from spicy foods. Those who have redness on their face due to typical rosacea triggers, including the sun, are likely to actually have rosacea. Another clue to rosacea may be the development of red bumps or pustules in addition to the red spots.” Rosacea tends to be confined to the middle face: the forehead, the inside of both cheeks, the nose and the chin.

Are you exfoliating too much?
Speaking of redness caused by radical exfoliation, Dr. Lain says that patients are likely to experience diffuse redness, which can be accompanied by dryness and peeling, within a few days of application. In contrast, the redness caused by an allergic reaction is often accompanied by swelling and pain that can appear within minutes to hours.” The location of this redness corresponds to the location where the offending product was applied to the skin.”

Are you getting too much sun?
The most important thing is to avoid the sun in general – especially if you have rosacea, as it is one of the most common triggers. Dr. Mark recommends using a sunscreen with zinc and using green makeup to cover up or help hide redness.” There’s a great over-the-counter product called Ana-Cool for $12.95 that’s safe to use on the face and helps reduce inflammation and redness. It is hydrocortisone combined with zinc, aloe vera, vitamin E and green tea.”


How is rosacea treated?
Finally, for rosacea or hot flashes, Dr. Lain recommends antioxidants and rosacea relievers. He recommends C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C Serum, $166, for morning use and Resveratrol B E, $153, for evening use.” In addition, Skinceuticals’ Pan Red Neutralizer, $67, can be layered on top of C E Ferulic in the morning as a second layer of defense against dampness.” Avocado oil is another key ingredient to look for, as it calms inflammation quickly, is well tolerated by most people and soothes even those with sensitive skin.It Cosmetics Bye Redness Neutralizing Color-Correcting Cream, $34, is rich in it and other smoothing ingredients.

For a more radical approach, there are in-office treatments to reduce redness, and Sobel likes PIQO4, a laser treatment that addresses a variety of skin conditions, including pigmentation, scarring, sun damage and uneven skin tone.” Because it does not use heat, it is more suitable for all skin types than higher intensity lasers.Cutera Excel V is a special laser that can help remove red blood cells from rosacea and fine spider webs on the face. Many people see results with just a few treatments and no downtime at all.” In addition to lasers, Sobel Skin and many other cosmetic dermatology clinics offer consultations for various forms of redness, allowing you to receive personalized treatment, including OTC therapy, topical prescription medications, oral antibiotics, and/or lifestyle changes.

Other ways to get rid of redness
For inflammation from exfoliation, consider a bland daily cleanser like CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $13.79, or Neutrogena Ultra Gentlerating Facial Cleanser, $8.29.” “Moisturizing lotions should also help protect and repair, like the Aveeno Ultra-Calming Moisture Night Cream, $16.57, or the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer with SPF, $19.99,” says Dr. Lain. For allergic reactions, the same cleanser works well, but consider applying a 1% hydrocortisone cream twice a day after cleansing. Note that hydrocortisone should only be used for 3-5 days; if the redness persists, stop using hydrocortisone and seek the advice of your dermatologist.”