How to Cure Red, Irritated Skin : Skin Care Tips
How to Heal Red Skin
Red, irritated skin can be frustrating and embarrassing, but there are lots of ways to find relief. If you’re dealing with a rash, wash the area with warm water and a mild soap, and soothe it with aloe vera, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone. If your skin is generally sensitive and prone to redness, avoid long, hot showers, use gentle cleansers, and keep your skin moisturized (although some moisturizers could irritate your skin as well). See your doctor for persistent or severe symptoms, and work with them to develop a long-term treatment plan.
Relieving a Rash
Flush the area with cool to warm water and a gentle soap.If you’ve developed a rash, it might have been caused by something you’re allergic to or by an irritating substance. Rinse the area thoroughly with cool to lukewarm water and a mild, sulfate-free cleanser to remove any traces of the irritant.
- Avoid harsh antibacterial soaps or foaming cleansers that contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate or ammonium laureth sulfate. These can aggravate irritated skin.
- Be sure the water is cool or lukewarm instead of hot. Hot water will just make matters worse.
- Avoid using a washcloth. Instead, use your hands and pat your skin dry.
Expose the affected area to air as much as possible.Unless your doctor advised otherwise, don’t bandage or cover a rash. A bandage or other dressing could rub against the rash and worsen the irritation. Exposure to air will promote healing and help keep the area cool.
- If affected areas are covered by clothing, try to wear loose natural materials, like cotton, and avoid skin-tight clothes. For example, wear loose cotton undergarments to maximize air circulation and reduce friction.
Avoid the substance or material that might have caused the rash.Think of any cosmetic products, lotions, soaps, or other new products you’ve recently used. If you haven't used any new products, figure out if the affected area came into contact with new jewelry, a cell phone, musical instrument, or other metal objects.
- Stop using or avoid contact with any potential triggers. The rash could be due to an irritant, like a solvent cleaner, or something you’re allergic to, like food, an animal, steel, or nickel and other metals.
- If you took a medication and suddenly develop a rash, seek emergency medical attention. This could be a sign of a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
Apply a cool compress to flushed red skin or a sunburn.For a redness that’s sore or feels warm to the touch, soak a clean cloth in cool water. Hold it with light pressure to the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Use a cool cloth or ice wrapped in a non-abrasive cloth for 10-20 minutes.
- A cool compress can soothe irritation due to a variety of conditions, such as heat rash and eczema, and it can help soothe a sore sunburn.
Apply aloe, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone to burning or itchy skin.If your skin is red but you don’t experience pain, burning, or itching, it’s usually best to avoid applying medicated creams. If you have any of these symptoms, over-the-counter ointments can provide relief. For best results, stick with 1 product that’s best suited for your symptoms instead of slathering the rash with multiple creams.
- Aloe vera is the best option for a sunburn or other minor burn. It’s also good for dry, irritated skin. Gently massage a generous amount on the affected area at least twice a day.
- Soothe itchy skin with calamine lotion. Shake the bottle well, pour a small amount onto a cotton ball, then dab it onto the affected areas.
- Hydrocortisone can reduce swelling, pain, and itching. Apply it to the affected area 1 to 4 times per day for up to 7 days. Use your product according to its label’s instructions.
- Antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin, A & D, or Neosporin work well for healing sunburn.
Try taking an oatmeal bath to relieve itchiness or pain.Oatmeal helps relieve redness, itchiness, and discomfort due to conditions such as poison ivy and chickenpox. Blend 1 to 2 cups (240 to 470 mL) of plain, unflavored oatmeal into a powder, then mix it into a bathtub filled with lukewarm water. Soak in the tub for 15 to 30 minutes, then rinse off with a cool or lukewarm shower.
- Instead of ordinary breakfast oats, you could also use a colloidal oatmeal bath mix, which you can find at your local pharmacy. Both are equally effective.
Seek medical attention for severe or persistent symptoms.Seek emergency care if the rash is all over your body or spreads rapidly, is accompanied by a fever, has pus-like drainage, or if you experience severe pain. See your doctor if it persists longer than 3 to 6 days without signs of improvement, or if you notice signs of infection.
- Signs of infection include a yellow or green fluid, crusting, and increased swelling or pain.
- While some rashes can be serious, most go away on their own within 1 to 2 weeks.
- An untreated rash can cause scarring, so see your doctor as soon as you feel that it is no longer minor.
Soothing Sensitive Skin
Take short, warm showers no more than once a day.Hot water can dry out and irritate your skin, so be sure to use lukewarm water when you bathe. Showering for 5 to 10 minutes adds moisture to your skin, but spending more time in the water will leave your skin less hydrated.
- Additionally, unless absolutely necessary, you should only bathe once a day at most.
Avoid scrubbing or scratching sensitive areas.Don’t scrub your skin with a washcloth or use exfoliating products. When you dry yourself, pat sensitive areas dry with a towel instead of rubbing them.
- If your skin is itchy, resist the urge to scratch, which can lead to an infection. If necessary, soothe itchiness with calamine lotion, a cool compress, or hydrocortisone
Use fragrance-free, non-foaming cleansers.If your skin is prone to irritation, any facial cleansers, hand soaps, and body washes you use should be as gentle as possible. Avoid antibacterial soaps and products that contain sulfates (check labels for ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate).
- Additionally, foaming cleansers tend to dry out skin. Choose products with hydrating properties, such as soaps that contain allantoin.
Moisturize regularly, especially right after bathing.Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer when you get out of the shower or bath and after you wash your hands. If necessary, reapply moisturizer to dry skin as needed throughout the day.
- Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, lanolin, mineral oil, and petroleum jelly (petrolatum). These substances help improve moisture retention and strengthen the skin barrier.
- Do not use moisturizers with perfumes since it can cause burning or irritation.
Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater 15 to 20 minutes before going outside. Check your product’s label and make sure it blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
- Exposure to direct sunlight can cause sunburns, trigger rosacea flare-ups, and overheat the skin, which can aggravate rashes due to eczema or heat rash.
Go for clothes made of cotton instead of wool or synthetic fibers.Cotton and cotton blends are soft and less irritating than wool, polyester, and acrylic. Additionally, wearing tight clothes and undergarments can cause irritation or redness, especially if you have sensitive skin.
- You should also remove labels from clothing, as they can scratch and irritate your skin.
Managing Chronic Skin Conditions
See your primary doctor or a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis.Persistent skin issues could be due to a number of underlying conditions. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and when they started, and let them know about any suspected triggers. They’ll perform a physical examination and, if they suspect an allergy, they may have you consult an allergy specialist to order an allergy test.
- Depending on your symptoms, your primary doctor might refer you to a dermatologist, skin specialist, or allergist.
Apply prescription-strength topical medications as directed.Prescription-strength topical medications are usually the first treatment option for chronic skin conditions. Use any prescription ointment according to your doctor’s instructions. Don’t stop using your medication without first consulting your doctor.
- For eczema, your doctor may prescribe a hydrocortisone or steroidal cream.
- Medications for rosacea include oral and topical antibiotics and medicated ointments.
- Topical medications for psoriasis include salicylic acid, steroidal creams, and retinoids.
- If you use a prescription ointment, let your doctor know about any side effects, such as a temporary burning sensation, itchiness, pain, or increased redness.
- Your allergy may come back when you stop the medication. Consult your doctor if this happens.
Ask your doctor they recommend oral medication.If topical medications aren’t effective, you might need to take oral medication, such as corticosteroid.
- For an infected rash or for some cases of rosacea, you may need to take an antibiotic. Take the antibiotic as it’s prescribed. If you have a bad or allergic reaction to the antibiotic, stop taking it and consult your doctor.
- To manage a severe case of psoriasis, your doctor might prescribe methotrexate. Methotrexate can cause dangerous side effects, such as lung or liver damage, so take it exactly as prescribed. You’ll need to see your doctor for regular blood work to identify any side effects before they become severe.
Talk to your dermatologist about light therapy.Laser and light therapies are used for a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema. Ask your dermatologist if light therapy would benefit your specific condition. Light therapy may increase the risk of skin cancer or aggravate some skin conditions, so it’s not right for everyone.
- Lasers and light-based treatments can cause temporary burning, increased redness, and swelling. Discuss potential side effects with your dermatologist, and make sure they’re experienced with light-based therapies before undergoing any procedure.
- Sunlight and tanning beds are also used to treat eczema, but talk to your doctor before proceeding with this treatment.
Try to keep your stress levels in check.Stress and anxiety can aggravate skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. Whenever you start to feel overwhelmed, try relaxation techniques, like meditating or controlled breathing. Count to 4 as you inhale deeply, hold for a 4 count, then exhale slowly as you count to 8.
- As you control your breathing, visualize calming scenery, such as a comfortable place from your childhood or a favorite vacation spot.
- If you have a lot on your plate, avoid taking on extra commitments, and ask friends, relatives, or coworkers for help when you’re spread thin.
QuestionMy skin became red after using an acne product. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should stop using the product. You have sensitive skin. The redness will go away soon.Thanks!
QuestionWhat type of cream should I rub on?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerUse a gentle moisturizer, and it would be a good idea to purchase one with SPF.Thanks!
QuestionMy face is in a constant state of dry, red, itchy and unbelievable discomfort. If I don't shave and stay moisturized my face dries out and breaks out in hive-like conditions and is scaly in many areas. What do I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe "scales" are a reaction from your skin getting irritated. Try taking a break from your current skincare routine. After a couple of days, start using a moisturizer. Use a gentle and calming one at night and one with SPF during the day. The scales can be a result of too harsh of a product.Thanks!
QuestionWhat can I do about red, dry, itchy, hive-like conditions on my face?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI would suggest you visit a dermatologist to see the extent of the damage. However, a dermatologist recommended moisturizing cream or a corticosteriod cream could help.Thanks!
My upper lip has the red chapped lips, but on my skin just above it. Should I follow some of these steps to treat it?
My face is irritated from over-exfoliating it. It looks like a rash but its not a rash.
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