The Cause Of Blotchy Skin (And The Best Products To Treat It)

From time to time, blotchy skin is something most of us have experienced, and it can appear quite unexpectedly. Often, we can go to bed with our skin looking and feeling totally fine, but wake up to find uneven, raised, and red or dry regions. Sometimes we start to feel irritated during the day and look in the mirror and discover it. These areas can itch or feel tight, or be completely pain-free.

Blotchy skin can look different on different people and appear with a multitude of various symptoms, though most stem from inflammation. These include redness, raised bumps, rashy-looking irritation, specific and individual circular patches, or even just a blanket of irritation (per Verywell Health).

Sometimes blotchy skin is only temporary and unavoidable. It can happen when we exercise and sweat, are exposed to the cold weather, or even when we're anxious, according to Nivea. In these cases, it subsides quickly, but at other times, blotchy skin lasts longer.

Medical causes of blotchy skin

While no one wants to have blotchy skin, sometimes the causes behind it can be difficult to pin down. It can appear for several medical reasons, as per WebMD. Certain skin conditions such as eczema and contact dermatitis are causing intensely dry and itchy skin. Drinking alcohol and over-exfoliating can also cause dryness and red, bumpy skin. Other times, the red itchiness can pop up in response to an allergen.

Long-term itchy red spots that show up as dead, flaky skin can be psoriasis, an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the skin, or lupus, another autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself (via American Academy of Dermatology Association). Simple redness without any itch can be rosacea. Shingles can cause blotchy uneven skin, as well as intense pain.

When blotchy skin persists, it's time to see a doctor, not only to relieve the discomfort but also to get a diagnosis. Seeing a doctor is especially important to rule out a systemic origin. 

How to get rid of blotchy skin

Before you look to add products to your routine to help curb the blotchiness, first see if any of your current products may be causing the problem, because inflammation is always behind blotchy skin. Your soap or facial wipes may be too harsh for you, so for best results, switch to a gentle cleanser. Licensed medical esthetician and beauty expert Jordana Mattioli writes on Camille Styles: "Common inflammation culprits include most bar soaps, over-exfoliating, certain astringent alcohols, fragrance, or a high content of essential oils. I look for simple formulas with tons of antioxidants, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and calming agents."

Naturally, you'll want to make sure your skin is properly hydrated since dry skin can cause irritation, however, opt for fragrance-free versions that are also free of dyes. After showering, lather on moisturizing cream to keep your skin nourished. And never forget the sunscreen. "Wearing an SPF of 30 or higher daily, as well as sunglasses and hat when outdoors are a must," dermatologist Dr. Tamella Cassis tells Good Housekeeping. Cassis also recommends limiting screen time since light from the computer or phone can exacerbate existing blotchiness.