Skin redness can have many different causes, including burns, allergic reactions, infections, and some health conditions. Certain causes are more severe than others and may require medical treatment.

In this article, we discuss several possible reasons for skin redness and when a person should see a doctor.

Dermatitis, or eczema, refers to a group of inflammatory skin conditions. These conditions typically cause red, itchy patches of skin where inflammation has happened.

Some common types of dermatitis are:

  • Contact dermatitis. This form of dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into direct with an irritant or allergen that causes an itchy rash.
  • Atopic dermatitis. Also known as atopic eczema, this is a long-term form of dermatitis that often affects children.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis. This is another long-term form of dermatitis that mainly develops on the scalp, but can occur on other parts of the body where there are a lot of oil-producing glands, such as the face and chest. It is also known as dandruff, and in babies, it is called cradle cap.

Dermatitis can cause a range of other symptoms, including:

  • fluid-filled blisters
  • hives, which form an itchy, swollen, red rash
  • dry, scaly, or bumpy skin
  • flaky skin
  • other skin color changes

Learn more about the different types of dermatitis here.

Heat rash is when the skin becomes irritated from hot or humid conditions. The outbreak consists of red, itchy patches of skin with clusters of small, raised pimples. These patches can be uncomfortable and may cause a stinging or prickly sensation.

Heat rashes often develop in areas where the skin folds and so skin-on-skin occurs, such as in the groin area or elbow creases.

Learn more about heat rash here.

Some people can experience an allergic reaction after taking certain medications, such as:

Drug allergies can cause:

  • skin rashes
  • hives
  • itching
  • skin swelling

In severe cases, a drug allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:

  • breathing difficulties
  • dizziness
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

Call the emergency services or seek immediate medical attention for any signs of anaphylaxis.

It is not always necessary to see a doctor for skin redness. For example, a person can treat mild cases of sunburn at home by applying moisturizers and drinking plenty of fluids.

However, some causes of red skin do require medical attention. Contact a doctor if the rash:

  • does not go away after several days
  • covers large areas of the body
  • occurs alongside a fever
  • appears suddenly and spreads quickly
  • begins to blister
  • becomes painful
  • show signs of infection, such as feeling warm or producing pus or other fluids