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The Truth Behind Skin Redness

By: Cynthia Price, MD
Posted: June 27, 2014, from the July 2014 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Atopic dermatitis. A personal history of allergies can be a common factor in the development of atopic dermatitis. This condition is characterized by redness, hypersensitivity, irritation, pruritus (itching) and eruptions of rashlike lesions. More than 90% of atopic dermatitis cases have a bacterial presence, and it may leave those affected more prone to viral infections and superficial fungal infections.3

Lifestyle choices affecting redness. Smoking is one of the most avoidable lifestyle choices that cause skin redness, aside from unnecessary UV exposure. Smoking one cigarette constricts capillaries, and robs the skin and vital organs of needed oxygen for up to 90 minutes. If a person smokes more than one cigarette in this time period, or even one every 90 minutes, the skin becomes chronically starved of oxygen. At this point, the body begins angiogenesis, the development of additional capillaries, in an attempt to bring oxygen to the starved skin, leading to a reddened appearance with sporadic broken, visible capillaries.

The overuse of aggressive topical products can often lead to acute and chronic redness, even if no known sensitivities or sensitive skin conditions exist. Additional lifestyle considerations for clients suffering from varying degrees of redness include avoiding spicy foods; hot liquids; alcohol and topical products containing alcohol; smoking; hot baths and showers; sun exposure; and high concentrations of aggressive topical ingredients, such as benzoyl peroxide and glycolic acid. Clients experiencing redness should also consider drinking plenty of water; using only half the amount of laundry detergent that is recommended by the manufacturer; avoiding products with synthetic fragrances or colors; and applying an appropriate moisturizer immediately after showering.

Ingredients that reduce redness

Regardless of which condition is responsible for causing the redness, there are a handful of tried and true ingredients that can mitigate redness, including:

  • Ascophyllum nodosum extract from brown algae, which reduces VEGF and PGE2 expression when combined with Asparagopsis armata extract; and
  • Capparis spinosa fruit extract from caper bud extract, which inhibits the production of proinflammatory cytokines.

Additionally, corticosteroids may be used to reduce inflammation and soothe the discomfort that often accompanies erythema. As with aforementioned conditions, every client should use a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or greater every day. When it comes to skin conditions involving redness, the barrier function is often impaired, allowing for a higher risk of UV-induced inflammation, which can worsen many of the sensitive skin conditions skin care professionals aim to treat. This increased inflammatory response can further weaken damaged capillaries and lead to increased vasodilation. Proper UV protection can help mitigate these negative outcomes.

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