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How to get rid of red skin

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When we think of non conformist skin, we might think of spots, breakouts and acne, or perhaps overly oily skin or irritated, dry skin. But red skin is another skin complaint that affects many of us and causes upset and frustration.

Far from just being a temporary skin complaint if we blush easily, become embarrassed or do some exercise, having red skin can be a long term problem for many.

Why has my skin become red?

How you deal with red skin is a case of figuring out what’s causing your skin to become red in the first place - red skin can be caused by a wide range of reasons.

So here’s a look at the common causes of red skin, and how they can be managed.


Sometimes it can take time and effort to figure out what’s causing your red skin, and even trips to doctors and skin specialists. But there are times when you know exactly why your skin feels hot and red - no more so than when we suffer sunburn.

Sunburn is caused by exposure to the sun. When we expose our skin to the sun, the sun’s UVA and UVB rays penetrate the skin, heating it up. A light suntan or heavy sunburn is a result of the same thing - the sun literally cooking our skin.

As so many of us know, spending too long in the sun can lead to painful sunburn, with its subsequent redness, soreness, itching and eventual peeling.

Even after a few days of protecting our skin from the sun’s rays after developing sunburn, the skin still remains red. This is because the body increases the blood flow to the areas of skin damaged by the UV rays, helping to repair the damage.

The best way to prevent sunburn is to protect your skin from the sun.

Other burns

Accidentally touching something hot or exposing our skin to a naked flame or boiling water will also cause the skin to become red. This will usually happen immediately and continue to become more red as time goes on, depending on how bad the burn is.

Like with sunburn, a physical burn or scald has effectively ‘cooked’ the skin and the redness is caused by this heat and by an increased blood flow to the area to help repair the damage.

Heat causes damage to the skin cells and tissue, resulting in redness, pain, swelling and blistering. Burns can be superficial, only affecting the upper layers of skin, or severe, full-thickness burns that require medical treatment.

Running the area of skin under cold water immediately after burning it will help to cool the skin and prevent further damage. But if a burn looks brown, weepy or leathery, it’s crucial to have it checked out by a medical professional.

Heat rash

A heat rash typically forms due to a combination of heat, sweat, blocked sweat pores and friction. This might be because you’re carrying a heavy backpack on your back on a hot, humid day, leading to a heat rash on your back or shoulders. Or it could be caused by areas of skin rubbing together, such as the skin under the arms or between the thighs.

The most common form of heat rash is prickly heat, which causes itching and a prickling sensation on the skin. Small red bumps form on the skin followed by red, inflamed patches caused by the blocked sweat pores preventing the sweat from escaping.

If you suffer from heat rashes, try to avoid getting too hot, such as exercising early in the morning or later in the evening when the temperature is lower. You can also avoid using thick creams and lotions that can clog the sweat pores, and wear clothes made from breathable fabrics.


A skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis causes a red rash, most commonly on the face and scalp. It can be accompanied by oiliness or dryness with some scaling of the skin.

Dermatitis takes on many forms and has many causes, including allergies (allergic dermatitis) and skin irritants (contact dermatitis) and working with a skin specialist to work out your causes and triggers is a good way to manage it.

You can also ease your symptoms by using a calming skincare regime designed for non conformist skin. There are more details on that below.


Folliculitis is caused when the hair follicles in the skin (from which hairs grow) become infected and inflamed. It leads to the formation of red, inflamed bumps on the skin, that appear in clusters, becoming itchy and irritating.

This skin condition can be caused by things such as shaving, ingrown hairs, wearing tight clothing that doesn’t allow the skin to breathe and using thick creams or substances on the skin.

Mild cases of folliculitis may disappear on their own using a holistic approach and lifestyle changes but more severe cases may need medical attention.


Rosacea is perhaps one of the most well known skin conditions that causes the face to become red, most commonly across the T Zone, that is, the area that covers the forehead, nose and chin, as well as the cheeks. It can also cause a burning or stinging sensation, particularly when applying products to the skin.

Rosacea usually begins with mild facial flushing but can lead to red, inflamed bumps on the skin and broken blood vessels that become permanent. It can be triggered by exercise, drinking alcohol or caffeine and eating hot, spicy foods.

Our rosacea page is full of more information on the causes of and treatments for rosacea.


Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes the skin to become rough, scaly, red and inflamed in very sharply defined patches. It may itch or it may not, and is common on the skin of the scalp, inside the elbows, behind the knees and in loose skin folds where the skin can become more sweaty.

Our page dedicated to the causes psoriasis and how best to treat it contains more detailed information on the condition.


A more serious form of chickenpox, shingles causes a red, painful rash that becomes blistered and weepy. More common on the torso than the face (although it can spread to the face) it can cause sufferers to become extremely unwell with a fever, body aches and chills and crushing fatigue.

If you think you may have shingles, it’s best to seek medical advice.

How can I get rid of red skin?

In each section above, we’ve detailed how each red skin causing condition can be managed - some more easily and quickly than others.

But to support healthy skin, there are general skincare steps you can take to prevent and manage red skin and other skin complaints.

What kind of skincare can I use to reduce skin redness?

Looking after all types of non conformist skin is helped immensely by using the right skincare products.

For example, our range of alkalising cleansers, toners and day and night moisturisers has been specifically developed for stressed out skin that’s prone to redness and breakouts.

Formulated by skin specialists, our products contain no harsh ingredients and instead harness the power of natural salt compounds, silica and botanical extracts to support and nourish the skin.

Can I cover skin redness with makeup?

Like with our skincare, makeup for skin that’s prone to redness, inflammation and breakouts needs to be chosen carefully. Our article, Is Makeup Bad for the Skin provides more information on using makeup to support stressed out skin.

When should I see a doctor for my red skin?

Most red skin conditions can be managed at home, using the right skincare and a holistic approach to stressed out skin management.

But if your red skin develops suddenly or affects the eyes or your eyesight, then it’s best to seek medical attention. It’s also advisable to seek emergency care if you suffer a burn that’s bigger than the size of two of your palms or is causing extreme pain, difficulty breathing or a loss of consciousness.


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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