How to Reduce Skin Inflammation

How to Reduce Skin Inflammation & Redness

Reference Lab

MARCH 26, 2023

Skin is one of the most resilient yet vulnerable organs in the human body. Skin redness and irritation can occur for a variety of reasons. It can come as a result of food allergies, abrasion, microbial imbalances, and stress. Whatever the cause, when skin inflammation occurs, it’s best to get to the root of the issue.

01 What causes skin to be inflamed?

Dermatitis is the general term to describe dry, red, irritated skin. Skin relies on its natural oils (found in sebum) to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Higher TEWL is found in dermatitis1 and is also a characteristic of sensitive skin2.

So, what is skin inflammation, exactly? It could be a sign that your immune system is working to fight an infection, however, chronic skin inflammation can be an indicator of a larger problem. Consult your doctor to check for cases of infections or skin disorders3. Inflammation is your body’s way of warning you that something is not quite right, so being thorough with your health is key!

02 How do you relieve red inflamed skin?

Inflamed skin can happen virtually anywhere on the body, but it’s especially frustrating when it happens on the face. Facial skin inflammation triggers can sometimes be difficult to identify as they often can be similar to symptoms of a skin condition or disorder. The best approach to relieving red, inflamed skin is to identify the cause of inflammation in order to address the root of the issue.

Some common skin inflammation triggers include: Treatments can work on a spectrum, ranging from over-the-counter skin care found in the beauty or general pharmacy aisles to prescription-grade medication that requires physician attention.

While it’s best to identify the source of the issue in order to treat the root cause, there are some approaches to treating the symptoms of red, inflamed skin. As always, it’s best to consult your physician for a safe and effective approach.
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Topical Treatments

For over-the-counter approaches to treat skin irritation, you may consider mild corticosteroids like cortisone cream, calamine lotions, or antifungal creams to calm redness and irritation. For stronger treatment, prescription-level skin medications that modify the immune response (called immunomodulators) may be suggested by your doctor.

Oral Treatments

Oral medications may also be used to address skin irritation and facial redness. Antihistamines are a popular choice for broadly addressing inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe oral antifungals and antibiotics depending on the root of the issue. Finally, injectable immunomodulators (usually available by prescription only) can help address systemic inflammation caused by an overactive immune response.

03 How can I reduce inflammation quickly?

Cold temperature therapy is a great natural way to quickly reduce inflammation. By cooling down the skin, you will restrict blood flow and reduce flushing. Applying a cold compress to the affected area will temporarily soothe inflammation.

Tips to heal skin inflammation

Although healing skin inflammation requires the identification of the source of the issue – and often the consultation of a physician – here are three tips to help soothe red skin and inflammation:
  1. Reduce heavy topicals: Reducing any unnecessary topical products will minimize exposure to potential skin irritants, allowing the skin to reset and return to its baseline state.
  2. Simplify your routine: Opt for topical skin care products like a peptide moisturizer or gel cleanser that have ingredients with calming and moisturizing properties like hyaluronic acid or glycerin in order to treat the skin barrier.
  3. Maintain moisture: Maintaining adequate moisture in the skin by supplementing water and/or oils (particularly fatty acids) is generally good practice when your skin is upset, depending on your skin type.

04 Why is my skin so red and inflamed?

Pinpointing the exact trigger of skin inflammation often requires some investigation and the help of a physician. A good place to start is by evaluating your skin care regimen, as certain skincare ingredients may be to blame. For some, essential oil or fragrances can cause an allergic reaction. There is also the small possibility you may be suffering from a skin disorder, such as eczema or psoriasis. With the help of a physician, you can investigate the source of your skin inflammation in order to treat it appropriately. No matter the cause, a compromised skin barrier will be more exposed to external stressors and pollutants that can exacerbate irritated skin, so it’s best to address the issue quickly.

05 Does skin inflammation go away?

Acute skin inflammation is usually a reaction to an irritating product, ingredient, or molecule; it will typically resolve once exposure is reduced or eliminated. Therefore, evaluating whether you were exposed to a new product or ingredient when the inflammation occurred will help narrow down the source. For temporary relief, you can consider using a cortisol cream or antihistamine. Be sure to work with a doctor if symptoms don’t clear up quickly, as it may be a sign of a deeper issue.

06 What reduces skin redness and inflammation naturally?

Natural botanicals in skin care are widely used to combat skin inflammation.

You may recognize a few from skincare ingredients lists like:

  • aloe vera
  • green tea
  • colloidal oatmeal
  • licorice root
  • centella asiatica (Cica)
  • ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
  • green tea
Salicylic acid is especially useful for treating inflamed, acne-prone skin. Gentle exfoliation will help remove old, stressed skin cells to make room for fresh ones that create a strong moisture barrier.

A word of caution: over exfoliation or using too many actives can disrupt the delicate skin balance.

Also note: chronic skin redness and inflammation that persists even after recommended soothing treatments may require medical attention to identify and address the root cause(s).

07 How can I prevent skin inflammation?

You can prevent skin inflammation by implementing a consistent skin care regimen focused on maintaining a healthy skin barrier. Focus on developing a simple, yet consistent routine that provides your skin with nourishing ingredients. Additionally, providing your skin with the proper nutrients through a healthy diet with lots of protein and antioxidants can help nourish your skin from the inside out. Being aware of what foods cause breakouts could help you prevent signs of skin inflammation from surfacing.

08 What can you do about general inflammation care?

Lifestyle change will be one of the most prominent interventions for curbing systemic inflammation. Reducing or eliminating habits like smoking or drinking will alleviate inflammation throughout the entire body, thus improving skin health and appearance overall. Adopting a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals will further help you reach your (skin)care goals!

All in all, investing time to discover the triggers that drive inflammation in your body is a useful skill for tackling life’s stressful moments that can reflect on your skin.


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