Blotchy Skin? Read on…
In a nutshell, blotchy skin is skin that’s uneven in coloration and/or texture.
Healthy, undamaged skin has a smooth, even texture and uniform color. With blotchy skin, you see patches or areas of discoloration where your skin is red or darker in color. Needless to say, it’s a frustrating problem to deal with! And even the best cosmetics can’t completely cover up skin that’s too blotchy.
What Causes Blotchy Skin?
Blotchy skin is skin that’s irritated or easily inflamed and the causes can be genetic, environmental or both. Certain skin conditions can cause blotchiness including eczema, psoriasis, an allergic reaction or a common skin problem called rosacea. Look out for our upcoming series of in-depth articles about skin conditions such as Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Adult Acne, Rosacea, Eczema and Skin Nutrition.
Sometimes certain allergies can trigger blotchiness and areas of redness. Temperature changes can too. Some people have skin that’s more sensitive to heat, cold and sun exposure. Genetics may be a factor too. Skin that’s sensitive and prone towards skin conditions that cause blotchiness tend to run in families. A dermatologist can tell you why you have blotchy skin. Blotchy skin may be worsened by factors like stress or strenuous exercise. In addition, some medications can make skin blotchiness worse.
Managing Blotchy Skin
How you manage blotchy skin depends on what’s causing it. If eczema, psoriasis or rosacea is a factor, there are treatments for those conditions. In almost all cases, red, blotchy skin is sensitive and tends to overreact with redness and irritation to what you put on it. If you have blotchy skin, a number of skin care products and cosmetics can make the problem worse. Even products meant to nourish your skin like moisturizer may contain ingredients your skin is sensitive too.
The best way to calm irritated, blotchy skin is to choose hypoallergenic PH balanced and noncomedogenic labeled (They don’t block the oil and sweat gland openings) cleansing and moisturizing products that contain no alcohol, detergents, parabens or fragrance.
All of these ingredients can irritate sensitive skin and make redness and blotchiness worse. Some ingredients found in anti-aging skin care products and products used to treat acne like salicylic acid, glycolic acid and retinols can also cause skin irritation and make the blotchiness worse. Look for products made with natural, plant-based ingredients, which are PH balanced preferably. Some plants and herbs like chamomile have natural anti-inflammatory properties that help calm skin and reduce irritation.
When using a skin care product, try it first on a small patch of skin on your arm and see how your skin reacts before applying it over your entire body or face. Needless to say, you need to be selective with the types of products you put on your skin if have skin that’s sensitive or prone towards blotchiness.
Sun protection is important for all skin types. In fact, it’s even more important if you have blotchy skin. Sun exposure can cause blotchiness or make the symptoms worse. Make sun protection a part of your daily skin care routine. Choose a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, both of which cause skin damage. Look for a sunscreen that’s free of fragrances, parabens and other skin-irritating chemicals. Mineral-based sunscreens are usually less irritating than chemical-based ones. Mineral-based sunscreens contain either zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Wear sunscreen every time you go outside.
Does Diet Play a Role in Blotchy Skin?
You bet! Without doubt, what you include in your diet plays a major role in the condition of your overall health, but more specifically the condition of your skin.
There is widespread recognition amongst nutritionists and dermatologists that chemical imbalances in our diet can and do manifest themselves as abnormal skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, acne, rosacea and eczema and those chemical imbalances can be controlled to a major extent by the foods that we eat.
The chemical imbalances in this instance refer to the acidity or the alkalinity of the foods we are eating.
The PH scale for those of you who aren’t sure, ranges from 0 (completely acidic) to 14 (completely alkaline). PH 7 is a perfectly neutral balance. The sweet spot for healthy skin though is a 5.5 PH balance, or slightly acidic.
When the skin is too alkaline, it becomes dry and sensitive and you may even develop eczema, too acidic on the other hand (way less than 5.) and your skin is likely to become red, inflamed, and painful to touch and any pre-existing skin conditions such as rosacea will become more pronounced.
In the case of rosacea, eating a mainly alkaline diet means that in as little as a few weeks, your skin should start looking better and you will feel much better.
Some acid-forming foods: alcoholic drinks, breads, cake, coffee, cereals, crackers, grains (except millet and quinoa), vinegar, eggs, oils or foods cooked in oils, meat, seafood and fish, nuts, seeds, pastas, salt, sugar, tofu.
Some alkaline-forming foods: fresh fruit, vegetable, salad green, sprouts, raw cider vinegar, lima beans, potatoes, citrus fruits, millet, quinoa.
If you’re allergic to certain foods, eating those foods can cause skin redness or blotchiness. Keep a food diary for a few weeks to see whether certain foods make the blotchiness worse. If you have a food allergy you may experience itching or have more severe symptoms like problems breathing.
Some of the most common foods people are allergic to are soy, wheat, fish and shellfish, nuts, eggs and milk. If you suspect you have a food allergy, get allergy testing to be sure. If you don’t have a food allergy, enjoy more “anti-inflammatory” foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and fatty fish like salmon. Fatty fish are rich in omega-3 fats that help to ease inflammation. Other foods that can trigger skin blotchiness in some people are spicy foods, caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
Some factors can aggravate your skin or make it blotchy by increasing blood flow to the surface of the skin.
Some factors include:
- Hot foods
- Hot drinks
- Spicy foods
- Dairy products
- Extremes of temperature
- Stress, anxiety, anger, embarrassment
- Vigorous exercise
- Some medications – such as those for treating high blood pressure
- Alcohol – Wine containing sulphites
Stress & Healthy Skin: Don’t overlook the obvious
Stress has been identified as an important contributor to the condition of your skins health, in particular in rosacea sufferers. Any sensible measures you take to reduce stress levels will help to prevent flare-ups and existing symptoms from getting worse.
Being told to reduce your stress levels is often an easy comment to make, but a very difficult goal to achieve, and regardless of the benefits to skin health you might even live longer!
Steps to reduce stress should include regular exercise, getting a good quality sleep every night, and eating a healthy and (PH) balanced diet.
Ironically, vigorous exercise is often a trigger for sufferers of rosacea so if this is you, keep to a low-intensity exercise regime, such as walking or swimming. Yoga, tai-chi, breathing exercises, and some meditations may also help reduce stress.
The Bottom Line?
Skin blotchiness has a number of causes but it’s typically a sign of sensitive or over-reactive skin. Watch what you put on your skin AND what you put into your body. Skin care products and certain foods and beverages can make the problem worse.
And finally, take steps (literally!) to reduce your stress levels remember, exercise is your friend in more ways than one.
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