Many things can cause skin redness, including exposure to extreme heat or extreme cold. With this in mind, we asked Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a dermatologist and spokesperson for Bioré, to explain what exactly skin redness is and how to manage and treat it.
1. Skin redness versus rosacea. What's the difference?
Many people confuse skin redness with rosacea. Skin redness occurs when blood vessels dilate, resulting in flushed cheeks. "Rosacea, however, is a diagnosis of a skin condition that can have more than one symptom," Skotnicki explains. "Some people with rosacea don't have a lot of redness -- they have bumps, which we call papules. Others just flush, and in between their flushing they're not very red. So just because you have a tendency to be a little bit red, it doesn't mean you have rosacea," she says.
2. What causes skin redness?
"First and foremost, skin redness is genetic," says Skotnicki. "If you have very pale skin, you are going to tend to become flushed more easily because your blood vessels dilate more easily when exposed to heat or cold." Lifestyle is a major factor too. Skotnicki maintains that wearing a sunscreen with SPF is a must because sun damage causes broken capillaries, which can result in a permanent reddening of your skin. Excessive consumption of alcohol and high stress can also cause skin redness, and weather exposure plays a big role -- especially if you have a light complexion that is more susceptible to sun damage and windburn.
3. What to avoid if you have skin redness
Skotnicki advises patients suffering from skin redness to avoid botanical-based, all-natural products. "My famous line is: Poison ivy is red -- and it's natural," she says. "When you talk about ingredients, it's more about what a product doesn't have in it versus what it does have in it." Fragrance and sodium laureth sulfate are the most important ingredients to avoid since they can aggravate skin redness.
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You should also avoid "lightweight" creams, such as gel formulas, as they don't offer as much protection from sun and wind. Also stay away from harsh exfoliators or scrubs that will only exacerbate redness. As for diet, spicy foods, hot beverages and alcohol are notorious for worsening skin redness. Caffeine, however, can actually restrict blood vessels, causing redness to decrease.
4. What topical treatments help soothe skin?
Skotnicki advises against excessive product use when attempting to soothe your skin and diminish redness. "Most of the time, skin redness is caused by people using too many products and hyper-cleansing their skin," she says. "They're often using heavily fragranced products -- even in hair care. There's been an explosion of interest about sensitive skin, and that's because there's been a barrage of products with junk in them."
Aloe vera, however, can offer a reprieve if you're hoping to soothe skin redness temporarily, and vitamin E can help prevent both skin reddening and skin dehydration. If redness and bumps become excessive, you should consult a dermatologist and seek out a prescription, or commit to a permanent procedure -- there are laser treatments available now that treat broken blood vessels.
5. The right way to cover up
Skotnicki confirms that skin redness can be minimized with the right foundation and concealer. "There are a lot of great products out there," she says. "Many of them -- even moisturizers -- are tinted green, which can make your red spots less noticeable." Skotnicki also recommends using mineral makeup. Mineral-based makeup contains fewer potentially irritating ingredients, so you will get the coverage you want without the irritation.
By following the steps outlined above, you should be able to manage your skin redness. Just remember that if your symptoms increase or change dramatically, you should consult your dermatologist to ensure there's not a more serious problem.
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