Redness-prone facial skin Symptoms, causes, triggers and treatments

While many of the symptoms of hypersensitive facial skin are non-visible, some sufferers also experience red blotches, red rashes and other symptoms that result in a red face, particularly on the cheeks, T-zone, forehead and chin.


Signs and symptoms of facial redness and redness-prone skin

Eucerin describes the three traits of hypersensitive skin as the Hypersensitive Skin Triangle.

These are: a compromised skin barrier; hyper-reactive sensory fibres in the epidermis; and redness, often caused by inflammation. The skin is vulnerable to stimuli that would be tolerated by normal skin, and these stressors can trigger erythema (redness of the skin on the face).

There are a number of red face causes, and many (but not all) are associated with hypersensitive facial skin.

At its most extreme, hypersensitive facial skin can become reddened, flushed and inflamed by a chronic disorder called Rosacea, the symptoms of which can come and go depending on exposure to triggers.

Couperose-prone skin also has the stinging, burning and other sensations described by hypersensitive skin sufferers, but the complexion also becomes red and flushed, with broken capillaries visible on the surface. Facial skin often feels tight and irritated.

Illustrated cross-section of hypersensitive, redness-prone skin
Due to its compromised skin barrier, hypersensitive skin is vulnerable to a range of stressors.

  • Flushing - a physiological condition in which the face, and other areas of the body, become markedly red - can be caused by, among other things, medical drugs, fever, stress, alcohol and spices
  • Blushing - a milder form of flushing occurs quickly when the blood vessels that supply the face dilate. This can happen when the skin is overheated and needs to cool down following exercise, a high ambient temperature or a menopausal hot flash; it can also result from embarrassment and stress.
  • Sunburn - a reddened and sometimes inflamed response to harmful UV rays
  • Allergic reactions - will typically result in patchy red blotches on the face or a red rash on the face as a result of exposure to allergens
  • Injuries, infections or inflammations
  • Exercise

Read more about hypersensitive facial skin
Read more about Rosacea and Couperose-prone skin

Image of a woman with a red face due to sunburn
Redness on the cheeks can be the result of sunburn.
An image of an allergic reaction causing redness on the face and neck
Allergic reactions can often appear on the neck as well as the face.

Causes and triggers of redness-prone facial skin

Erythema (from the Greek erythro, meaning red) can occur as a result of hypersensitive skin reacting to stimuli, such as allergens, temperature changes or chemicals.

These triggers wouldn't necessarily cause a reaction in normal skin, but hypersensitive facial skin is more susceptible to irritation, which causes red blotches and rashes on the face, as a consequence of the impaired skin barrier and hyper-reactive sensory fibres.

While facial redness in normal skin may return to its regular state within minutes, red skin from hypersensitivity lasts significantly longer (hours, days or even months).

Hypersensitive skin can show no visible symptoms at all, although sufferers do complain of unpleasant sensations which they liken, among others, to stinging or burning.

There are a number of different causes that can trigger facial redness. These include:

  • Environmental factors (heat, cold, wind, etc.)
  • Psychological factors (anger, stress, intense emotions, etc.)
  • External factors (exposure to certain chemicals, detergents, fragrances, etc.)
  • Hormonal factors (menstrual cycle)
  • Mechanical factors (pressure on the skin) can affect the skin and aggravate the underlying sensory fibres, causing redness.
Image of a woman in cold weather
Erythema can be caused by extreme temperature changes.
Image of a woman suffering from stress
Psychological factors, such as stress, can trigger hypersensitive reactions.

Further red face causes

Whilst the above factors are the more common causes of facial redness, there are also other factors including:

  • Age
  • Genetics
  • Hormonal factors
  • Skin dryness
  • Race
  • Skin pigmentation
  • Pre-existing diseases and lifestyle

In a report conducted by the International Journal of Dermatology,* the large majority of subjects with ‘‘sensitive’’ or ‘‘very sensitive’’ skin had sunburn during childhood and now redden easily following sun exposure. This could be due to skin phototype, as sensitive skin mainly affects fair-skinned subjects.

Increasing pollution, especially in urban environments, has also led to a growth in hypersensitive and red facial skin. The exposed skin barrier is made more vulnerable by the ongoing aggressors in the air and the constant activation of the underlying sensory fibres.

More and more people are affected by allergic reactions and these contribute to hypersensitive redness.

* International Journal of Dermatology 2011, 50, 961–967

Image of a woman shielding her face from the sun
Childhood sunburn can lead to sun-induced redness in adulthood.
Image of cars on a road emitting pollution
Pollution and car emissions can trigger erythema in hypersensitive skin.

Solutions available for redness-prone skin

Prevention will always be better than a cure, so the best thing is to avoid all known triggers.

This is not always practical, however, so the next most important thing to do is to use skincare products that restore and protect the impaired skin barrier.

To minimise the chance of irritant and allergic reactions, use 'pure' or '0%' formulas that only contain a limited number of ingredients and are free from potential irritants, such as perfume or alcohol. Look for products that use anti-contamination packaging.

The Eucerin Hypersensitive Skin ranges contain a unique active ingredient called SymSitive*, which effectively acts as a sensitivity regulator directly at the source of hyper-reactivity, providing instant relief from unpleasant sensations. Used regularly, Eucerin Hypersensitive products make the skin more resistant to internal and external stress, offering long-lasting skin comfort.

Eucerin AntiREDNESS products also contain Licochalcone A, a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that quickly reduces redness and soothes inflammation.

Eucerin AntiREDNESS Concealing Day Cream Tinted SPF 25 also contains green concealing pigments which instantly help to cover the appearance of redness for an even-toned complexion

* of Symrise AG, Germany

Image of a woman washing her face
A special, active skincare routine can calm hypersensitive and red facial skin.
Image of women using Eucerin face cream
Green concealing pigments cover the appearance of redness.

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