Don’t “See Red” Over Facial Redness


One of the most common complaints I hear in both my internal medicine and skin care practices is about facial redness. “Why do I have this and how do I get rid of it?”

Most of these patients assume they have rosacea. Although rosacea is a form of facial redness, only a small percentage of facial redness is actual rosacea. I have addressed rosacea in great length in several other newsletters. Here, I would like to highlight causes and treatment of other types of facial redness.

Many forms of facial redness are in fact self-induced by causing irritation to the skin, inadequate moisturizing, and damage from sun exposure. One of the most common forms of skin irritation comes from the cleaning of the skin with the wrong kind of moisturizer. If you have tendency to facial redness, definitely do not use an abrasive cleanser or use any other cleanser in a scrubbing fashion. A mild liquid cleanser which rinses off easily works best to prevent skin irritation.

While toners or astringents do have a place in facial skin care to remove soap residue or oil, these products evaporate quickly from the skin, and frequently result in redness and flushing. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if the toner causes your skin to tingle or you look flushed after use, you should avoid that toner.

Lack of moisture in the skin results in damage to the skin barrier through scaling and cracking. This barrier damage also causes inflammation and (you guessed it) subsequent redness. A good moisturizer will prevent water from evaporating from your skin and will actually attract water from the deeper layers of the skin to the surface. To prevent dehydration of the skin, also avoid any products that you may already use that contain propylene glycol, glycolic or salicylic acids.

Last but not least, sun damage in the short and long term aso causes facial redness. The best sunblocks for facial use are at least SPF 30. Lotion or cream sunscreens are generally better for sensitive skin than sprays which may contain alcohols and water-resistant products. I also favor physical barrier sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which reflect the sun’s damaging effects away from your skin as opposed to chemical sunscreens that absorb UV radiation and convert it to heat.

I hope that this information will address many of red skin questions you may have had.  Meanwhile, if you have any other questions concerning this article and any other skin issues, please leave a comment on our blog or call our office directly at (207) 873-2158 or email through our website.  Until next week’s posting, keep the sunblock in stock and on your skin.

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