While most people in the world will at some stage in their lives experience blotchy skin, there is no one cause or distinct appearance associated with the condition.
What is blotchy skin?
There are some cases of blotchy skin that can be the result of undiagnosed medical conditions or others, which have an environmental reason for the blotchiness to occur. To distinguish which skin blotching you are experiencing, you can check out numerous conditions, their associated symptoms, possible causes and potential treatments. These conditions include rosacea, hives, psoriasis and eczema.
- Visible symptoms of hives are red or white welts on the skin. These can be singular lumps or a cluster in a larger area of skin.
- The affected area will be very itchy and, in some cases, feel warm to the touch.
- Allergic reactions
- Urticaria; this condition is when your body reacts to a possible allergen or unknown substance by releasing histamine into the blood.
- Taking an antihistamine when blotchiness occurs and symptoms are acute (happen for less than six weeks).
- Taking daily antihistamines if symptoms persist for over six weeks.
- If antihistamines do not provide relief, orally administered corticosteroids can be prescribed.
If symptoms occur for over six weeks, it is important to consult a doctor or health care professional
Those suffering from Psoriasis can experience a multitude of different symptoms, but the most common are;
- Scaling of the skin in large, raised patches (called plaques).
- Layers of dead skin which can be flaky and itchy.
- These plaques may be present on any part of the body, but most commonly it is found on the legs, arms, scalp, and back.
It is largely unknown what exactly causes psoriasis, but it has been linked to immune system abnormalities which can cause skin inflammation, triggering the production of new skin cells developing at a very fast rate. Psoriasis suffers regularly experience new skin growth of three to four days instead of the normal 28 to 30-day cycle. The build-up of old and new cells on the skin is what causes the itchy scaling.
There are several different treatments for different symptoms of Psoriasis. Some treatment aims to reduce the production of new skin cells or try to slow down this process. Other treatments aim to stop the itching or moisten the dry skin. Largely, doctors will treat with the following:
- Steroids - mostly in a cream formula
- Moisturizers – to help combat dry skin and itching
- Coal Tar – used in shampoo and lotions for scalp psoriasis treatment
- Vitamin D analogs - these are manmade and cannot be obtained through supplements or food. A doctor must prescribe these for you
- Retinoid creams – to help soften rougher skin
- Itchiness – often the itch will occur before the appearance of a rash.
- Thicker, very dry skin at the site of occurrence. It may also appear scaly from scratching dead skin from the site.
- Skin inflammation and irritation.
- There are a number of different types of eczema but the most common one is atopic dermatitis which often is linked to allergic conditions such as dust and pollen allergies and asthma.
- Doctors are still unsure of the cause of eczema; however, it has been linked to overactive responses by the immune system to outside irritants.
- Some everyday irritants, such as fragrance in soaps or pet dander can cause a response when contact with the skin is made.
- Eczema commonly runs in families with a history of allergies.
- While there is no cure, managing the condition can be handled well with avoidance to irritants and by keeping the skin adequately moisturized.
- Some doctors may suggest antihistamines, corticosteroids or other creams to help reduce inflammation and itching.
There are four distinct subcategories of rosacea, and sufferers may experience one or more of these together;
- Erythematotelangiectatic: Redness of the face, visible blood vessels and flushing of the cheeks.
- Papulopustular: Swelling and breakouts which resemble acne along with skin redness.
- Phymatous: Skin becomes thicker and bumpier in texture, especially on or around the nose.
- Ocular: Redness of the eyes and general eye area. Swelling of eyelids can occur and sty-like bumps can appear.
- Redness is a persistent symptom in the sufferers of rosacea.
- Rosacea affects over 14 million Americans and is much more common than you would think.
- Women are slightly more likely to suffer from rosacea than men, but men are much more likely to suffer severely from the condition.
- Rosacea generally runs in families with sufferers of the condition itself or a history of severe acne.
- Those who are of pale Scandinavian or Celtic descent (typically blonde and blue-eyed) are more likely to suffer.
- Doctors are unsure exactly what causes the condition but they believe the immune system overacts to outside certain bacteria and skin mites.
- There is no cure for rosacea but your doctor can prescribe treatments to help to reduce the redness of the skin and any discomfort you experience.
- Treatment will include finding the “triggers” such as overheating on a hot day, spicy foods and hot drinks. Everyone’s triggers are different, and it is important to find yours to help you avoid them.
- Protect your skin from direct sunlight, as it will be more sensitive to the sun. Always apply sun protection creams or sprays with an SPF of 30 or higher and try to avoid sitting directly in the sun.
- Change your skincare routine to remove rosacea irritating products and replace them with more gentle products to aid your skin's recovery. Do not rub or heavily exfoliate any area affected by Rosacea as this can damage the skin, cause discomfort and encourage flaring up the condition.
These are just some of the conditions you could be experiencing, and while there are many other different causes that can create blotchy skin, it is always worth contacting your health care provider or dermatologist if you experience abnormal skin reactions.