Facial Redness | Causes & How to Treat Redness on Face (2023)

Skin diseases

Diseases of the skin can cause damage to the surface of the skin and its underlying structure and result in permanent redness and unevenness. These diseases may specifically result in the following.

  • Redness with bumps: This may appear on the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead, along with sore, burning eyes. This is essentially caused by blood vessels in the face dilating and expanding.
  • Red, dry, scaly patches of skin: These may appear on the forehead, hairline, neck, ears, and face, as well as on other parts of the body.
  • Reddened, thickened, uneven skin with pimples

Damage to blood vessels in the face

Damage can occur due to the following:

  • Aging, obesity, and/or poor circulation
  • Broken blood vessels, often from sun damage

Rare and unusual cause types

Less common causes of facial redness include the following.

  • Heredity: A tendency toward facial redness, sometimes severe, may run in families.
  • Microscopic skin mites: These are normally found on human skin but are far more numerous in people with certain forms of facial redness and inflammation.

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Solar (actinic) keratosis

Actinic keratosis, also known as solar keratosis, is the most common skin condition caused by sun damage over many years. It appears as small, rough, raised growths that may be hard and warty.

You should visit your primary care physician to have the affected skin evaluated. There are several treatments for actinic keratosis, including freezing the keratosis with liquid nitrogen, or applying a cream or gel. Some keratoses will disappear on their own within a year.

Non-specific facial rash

Nonspecific facial rash means a rash without fever or other symptoms. There are many possible causes for this:

  • Contact dermatitis, which means direct facial contact with a substance that causes an allergic rash.
  • Noncontact (atopic) dermatitis, which means an inhaled substance such as dust or pollen is causing an itchy facial rash.
  • Fifth disease, or erythema infectiosum, is a viral illness that causes cold symptoms followed by a lingering red rash on both cheeks.
  • Sun exposure and/or pregnancy can trigger melasma, which causes brown or grey-brown freckled patches on the face.
  • Alcoholism can cause a persistent, rash-like redness of the face due to dilated blood vessels.

Facial rash without fever is rarely serious, but a medical provider can make a definite diagnosis and help with easing any symptoms.

Diagnosis is made through patient history and physical examination, and sometimes skin testing.

Treatment involves removing any substances that are provoking a reaction; moisturizing the skin; using prescribed antihistamines or corticosteroid ointments; and strengthening the immune system through improved diet, sleep, and exercise.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: facial redness

Symptoms that always occur with non-specific facial rash: facial redness

Symptoms that never occur with non-specific facial rash: fever

Urgency: Wait and watch

Eczema (atopic dermatitis)

Atopic dermatitis, also called eczema, dermatitis, atopic eczema, or AD, is a chronic skin condition with an itchy rash.

AD is not contagious. It is caused by a genetic condition that affects the skin's ability to protect itself from bacteria and allergens.

AD is most often seen in infants and young children. Most susceptible are those with a family history of AD, asthma, or hay fever.

Infants will have a dry, scaly, itchy rash on the scalp, forehead, and cheeks. Older children will have the rash in the creases of elbows, knees, and buttocks.

Without treatment, a child may have trouble sleeping due to the intense itching. Constant scratching may cause skin infections and the skin may turn thickened and leathery.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination, patient history, and allergen skin tests.

AD cannot be cured, but can be controlled through prescribed medications, skin care, stress management, and treatment of food allergies. Those with AD often have allergies to milk, nuts, and shellfish. Keeping the skin clean and moisturized helps prevent flareups.


Crohn's disease is an inflammation of the bowel. It is caused by a faulty immune system response which makes the body attack the lining of the intestines.

The disease usually appears before age thirty and can affect anyone. Those with a family history may be most susceptible. Smoking is a known risk factor.

Aggravating factors include stress, poor diet, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin.

Early symptoms usually develop gradually, but can appear suddenly. These include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, mouth sores, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and blood in stool.

Untreated Crohn's disease can cause ulcers throughout the digestive tract as well as bowel obstruction, malnutrition, and deteriorating general health.

Diagnosis is made through blood test and stool sample test. Colonoscopy, CT scan, MRI, endoscopy, and/or enteroscopy may also be used.

Crohn's disease cannot be cured, but can be managed through reducing the inflammation. Antibiotics, corticosteroids, and immune system suppressors may be tried. Excellent nutrition, vitamin supplements, smoking cessation, and reduction in stress can be helpful.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain

Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis: facial redness, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Carcinoid syndrome

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms associated with carcinoid tumors - abnormal growths of the small intestine, colon, appendix, and bronchial tubes in the lungs. Carcinoid syndrome is a condition that is seen in people with tumors that are advanced, meaning that they have been developing for a long time. The symptoms of this condition include skin flushing, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and a rapid heartbeat.

You should visit your primary care physician who will be able to coordinate your care with a specialist. Treating this condition involves treating the cancer with surgery or chemotherapy, and also using medications to control individual symptoms.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common kind of skin cancer. It can develop almost anywhere on the body. It appears as abnormal spots or bumps on the skin. These bumps are often pink, red, or skin-colored and sometimes have a shiny surface. The main risk factor for developing this condition is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sun exposure and tanning beds are both sources of UV radiation. People with a history of sunburns, previous skin cancer, and a weakened immune system are at higher risk for this condition.

Most cases of BCC can be easily treated because they grow slowly. Though if not treated, it can spread inside the body. Your provider will do a skin exam and possibly skin sample test, known as a biopsy. Treatment will depend on where the cancer is, its size, and your medical history. Some treatment options include cutting out the bump, freezing it, or using medicated skin cream.

Allergic contact dermatitis of the face

Allergic contact dermatitis means the skin has touched something that provoked an allergic reaction, causing inflammation and irritation.

"Contact" means the allergic reaction came from touching something, not from consuming something. The first exposure to the substance sensitizes the immune system, and then the second exposure actually causes the symptoms.

The most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are:

  • Nickel, a metal often used in belt buckles, the buttons on pants, and jewelry, including piercing jewelry.
  • Poison ivy.
  • Various types of perfumes, including those founds in soaps, fabric softeners, and detergents.
  • Of course, there are many more.

Symptoms include red, itching, scaling, flaking skin that may be painful due to the irritation and inflammation.

Diagnosis is made through first avoiding contact with any suspected substance, to see if the dermatitis clears. Patch testing can be done if the results are not certain.

Treatment involves fully avoiding the allergy-provoking substance and using topical steroid cream as prescribed. Cool compresses and calamine lotion can help to ease the discomfort.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: facial redness, face itch, scabbed area of the face

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the face: facial redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Acne rosacea

Rosacea is a long-term disease that affects the skin and sometimes the eyes. It causes redness and breakouts. Acne rosacea is the type of Rosacea that causes pimples. Rosacea is most common in women and people with fair skin. It most often affects middle-aged and older adults.

You should visit your primary care physician, who could help with a treatment plan (no diagnostic testing necessary). Treatment can't cure you, but helps the symptoms and includes brimonide gel, laser therapy, and even an antibiotic.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: facial redness, rough skin on the face, pink or red facial bump, nose redness, raised rash

Symptoms that always occur with acne rosacea: facial redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Questions your doctor may ask about facial redness

  • Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Did you possibly brush into poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac?
  • Is the red area flaky and rough to the touch?
  • Do you have skin changes anywhere that skin touches or rubs other skin (such as the back of the knee, inside of the elbow or wrist, or the armpit)?
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