Causes of Blotchy Skin
Blotchy skin is a common disorder – one that brings millions of people to their doctor or dermatology offices each year. Fair-skinned people are more prone to blotchy skin than those who have darker complexions, in part, because their skin tends to be more sensitive.
There are dozens of reasons for blotchy skin, ranging from genetic disorders to simple dermatitis (rash). That said, blotchy skin can be difficult to treat in some cases, especially given the plethora of possible causes. Here are the most common causes of blotchy skin, a condition that can appear anywhere on the body, yet is primarily found on the arms, face, neck and chest.
Stress is a common cause of blotchy skin resulting in itchy, red and inflamed patches on the face, neck and chest. Stress can also result in hives (a sudden outbreak of swollen, pale red bumps or plaques on the skin). The appearance of hives can cause the condition to spread, and scratching or itching hives does not help.
Blotchy symptoms from stress do fade and disappear once the stress has passed. However, in the meantime, stress-induced blotchy skin can be treated with histamine-blocking lotions and creams to reduce symptoms.
Seasonal conditions like extreme heat or cold, can cause a blotchy reaction in the skin, especially on exposed areas, resulting in chapped, red, painful skin.
The reason for blotchy skin under any of these conditions is the loss of moisture in the skin. As water evaporates from the skin, it becomes depleted of natural moisture and becomes very dry, red, and itchy.
Heat rash, also called ‘prickly heat’ can appear on people of all ages, but tends to affect the very young most. Heat rash happens when sweat glands become blocked, thereby trapping the release of sweat which cools the skin naturally. Heat rash appears as patches of tiny blisters that deliver a frustrating prickling sensation on the skin, making it very uncomfortable. The condition can become more serious if red patches do not subside with cooling treatments.
Blotchy skin caused by genes or genetic disorders can be harder to treat because of the chronic nature of the condition. For instance, people with fair genes are more prone to blotchy skin than those with darker skin types, partly because fair skinned people tend to have more sensitive skin.
Genetic skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea, for example, can be the cause of blotchy skin. In these cases it’s important to identify to specific condition to determine the correct treatment protocol.
Other genetic skin conditions like keratosis pilaris (an overproduction of the skin protein, keratin – looks like goose bumps), plugs pores and hair follicles, resulting in blotchy skin patches. This condition can be treated with topical retinoids and/or corticosteroids to speed the removal of excess keratin and reduce inflammation and redness.
There are a number of environmental factors that can lead to blotchy skin. Contact with harsh detergents, perfumes, dyes, chemicals, metals or itchy fabrics can irritate the skin, causing red patches of dry skin to develop. This is often referred to as Contact Dermatitis, a common term used for red, inflamed skin. Contact Dermatitis, the most common cause of blotchy skin, is caused by substances that comes in contact with, then irritates and inflames the skin. Treatment and prevention involves finding out what exactly the offending trigger is, then avoiding contact or removing it while treating the skin.
Dust, dander and other pollutants can irritate the skin, causing it to become blotchy, particularly if the irritants are indoors or in closed quarters.
In some cases, blotchy skin can be due to a serious health condition. If the cause of blotchy skin is not easily identified, the cause must be determined by a physician who can rule out more a serious skin condition or medical condition.