Your skin is an organ, and like any organ, it can become irritated by repeated exposure to stressors. When your stomach is irritated, you get indigestion. When your lungs are irritated, you cough. When pollen is in full bloom in the spring time, you get itchy, watery eyes and nose. You get the picture…
With irritated skin, you may see redness, swelling, dryness, flaking, blotches, or blisters. Red, irritated skin may be itchy, or it might burn. Several things can cause skin irritation, and each requires a different treatment.
Simple Dry, Irritated Skin
Environmental stressors are often to blame when your skin gets irritated. If you see dry patches or light red, raw areas, your skin has likely been exposed to the sun, cold wind, or harsh cleansers. If you’re a ball of stress, your skin can react adversely as well.
Treatment is often relatively straightforward. You should start by applying an irritated skin cream to the affected area at least twice daily. It will help restore and protect the disrupted skin barrier. Favor one that’s free of harsh fragrances and dyes. These ingredients can exacerbate the problem. Hydrocortisone cream can also calm irritation, reducing the itch and swelling associated with dry, irritated skin. In addition to using the twice daily irritant free moisturizing cream, you can add a small amount of hydrocortisone cream twice a day to the affected areas until you find relief.
If you’re concerned that a different skincare product like your eyelid cream or makeup is causing the irritation, discontinue use and see if the problem resolves. If it does, choose a replacement product that omits sulfates, phthalates, scents, dyes, retinoids, and parabens. It is also recommended an irritated skin shampoo and body wash be used.
Another important thing to do is to examine your detergents used on clothes and dryer sheets. All of these household cleaning products should not contain fragrance and dyes.
Red Irritated Skin After Touching Something
If your red, irritated skin presents with blisters in addition to a red rash you may have run into something that literally rubbed your skin the wrong way. This could be an allergic reaction or just that the offending substance was immediately irritating to the skin.
In a baby, the most common type of immediately irritating situation would be a diaper rash. Urine when mixed with stool can be quite irritating to the skin. This manifests as immediate redness where the stool was in contact with the skin.
An example of an allergic reaction is poison ivy, oak or sumac. After brushing up against one of these gems, it takes four days for the body to make a blistery red rash wherever the plant came in contact with your skin. Other causes of allergic reactions can be certain metals found in jewelry or clothing and fragrances, dyes and preservatives like parabens used in cosmetics.
To soothe irritated skin, the first thing to reach for should be an irritated skin cream to be used twice daily. Look for a cream with licorice root extract that will help soothe redness. Hydrocortisone is appropriate in this case as well, as its primary purpose is to meter the body’s reaction to allergens. In an allergic case it can be quite tricky to elucidate the offending ingredient when it is in one of your cosmetics or in jewelry or even in the rubber of your shoes. The help of an allergist to perform “patch testing” may be required; this will tease out what is the cause of the rash.