Redness of the skin can be really embarrassing and frustrating, and is a very common concern. There are lots of causes of redness, so it’s important to work out exactly why your skin is red, so you can address it properly.

What are the causes of skin redness?

There are a number of causes of skin redness. One of the most common causes is rosacea, which can present as a background pink hue to the skin, prominent blood vessels, easy flushing or blushing, and sometimes red bumps and pimples. 

Sun damage can lead to dilated and visible blood vessels, as well as actinic keratoses, which are pink scaly spots. 

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is another common cause of red skin, due to the overgrowth of a yeast on the skin. This can lead to red, flaky patches of skin, particularly around the sides of the nose and between the eyebrows. It is a common cause of dandruff, or scaly skin on the scalp. 

Sensitive skin, and irritant or allergic contact dermatitis, can all cause skin that is red and dry. The skin tends to be quite sensitive to skincare products, and may feel itchy. Overusing active ingredients, in particular retinoids and alpha and beta hydroxy acids, can all cause redness of the skin. 

Acne-prone skin can be quite red, due to the inflammation around the pimples. 

Medical conditions can cause red skin, including atopic dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, psoriasis and lupus. 

How can I treat the redness of my skin?

Treatment really depends on the cause. However, good principles to follow for anyone with red skin include using a gentle, SLS-free cleanser, avoiding hot water on the face, using a good moisturiser and sunscreen, and considering niacinamide to help reduce inflammation and repair the skin barrier

Prominent blood vessels due to rosacea or sun damage can be treated with laser. Redness related to the bumps of rosacea and acne can be treated with ingredients such as azelaic acid and prescription creams, as well as oral antibiotics and sometimes isotretinoin. Actinic keratoses require a medical review and treatment with either creams, cryotherapy or sometimes photodynamic therapy or laser. Seborrhoeic dermatitis usually responds to gentle skincare and anti-yeast washes or creams. Sensitive skin requires gentle skincare, good moisturisers and ingredients such as niacinamide to help repair the skin barrier. Conditions such as irritant or allergic contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and lupus may require a medical review and prescription treatment.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…