What causes redness or scaling on human skin and how to treat it?

Symptom Database

Redness and scaling on the skin can be a cause for concern, as they are often symptoms of various dermatological conditions. These conditions can range from mild skin irritations to more serious skin disorders. Understanding the causes of redness and scaling, as well as how to treat them, is essential for maintaining healthy and comfortable skin.

What Causes Redness and Scaling?

Redness and scaling can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

  • Dry skin: When the skin lacks moisture, it can become dry and prone to redness and scaling.
  • Inflamed skin: Inflammation can occur due to irritants, allergies, or underlying skin conditions.
  • Itchy skin: Constant scratching can lead to redness and scaling.
  • Skin sensitivity: Some individuals have naturally sensitive skin that is more prone to redness and scaling.
  • Skin disorders: Certain skin disorders, such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, can cause redness and scaling.

Treating Redness and Scaling

Moisturize Regularly

One of the most effective ways to treat redness and scaling is to moisturize the skin regularly. Using a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer can help replenish the skin’s moisture barrier and reduce dryness. Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides, which help lock in moisture.

Avoid Harsh Products

Harsh soaps, cleansers, and skincare products can further irritate the skin and worsen redness and scaling. Opt for gentle, non-comedogenic products that are specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid products that contain alcohol, fragrances, or other potential irritants.

Use Topical Steroids

In cases where redness and scaling are caused by inflammation or skin disorders, topical steroids may be prescribed by a dermatologist. These medications can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. However, it is important to use them as directed and under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

Apply Cold Compresses

If redness and scaling are accompanied by itching or discomfort, applying cold compresses can provide relief. The cold temperature helps soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth and gently press it against the affected area for a few minutes at a time.

Avoid Trigger Factors

Identifying and avoiding trigger factors can help prevent or minimize redness and scaling. These triggers can vary from person to person but may include certain foods, environmental allergens, stress, or exposure to extreme temperatures. Keeping a diary to track potential triggers can be helpful in identifying patterns.

Protect Your Skin

Protecting your skin from harsh environmental factors can help prevent redness and scaling. Wear sunscreen with a high SPF to shield your skin from harmful UV rays. Additionally, protect your skin from extreme temperatures by wearing appropriate clothing and using moisturizers with added sun protection.

Seek Professional Help

If redness and scaling persist or worsen despite home remedies, it is important to seek professional help. A dermatologist can accurately diagnose the underlying cause and recommend appropriate treatment options. They may prescribe medicated creams, oral medications, or other therapies based on the specific condition.


Redness and scaling on the skin can be caused by various factors, including dryness, inflammation, skin sensitivity, and underlying skin disorders. Treating these symptoms involves moisturizing regularly, avoiding harsh products, using topical steroids if necessary, applying cold compresses, avoiding trigger factors, protecting the skin, and seeking professional help when needed. By following these tips and taking proper care of your skin, you can effectively manage redness and scaling, leading to healthier and more comfortable skin.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
Add a comment