Inflammation is a crucial process that occurs in your body. When your body recognizes a foreign intruder – like infectious microbes or cancer cells – your immune system sends a response to drive out the dangerous pathogens and begin the healing process. Your body also sends out a response to promote healing when you have a wound or area of damaged tissue. This immune system response is known as inflammation, and your body would not be able to heal itself without it. Skin inflammation usually presents as a rash that may be raised, red, or warm. Some inflammatory rashes cause blisters or pimples, and some may burn, sting, or itch.
Here, we explore several common causes of skin inflammation.
Acute Vs. Chronic Inflammation
Acute inflammation develops rapidly in response to a trigger, such as an allergen, the sun, or an infection. This type of inflammation is short-term and typically resolves within a few weeks if the cause of inflammation is treated. Acute inflammation doesn’t cause permanent tissue damage.
Chronic inflammation is long-lasting inflammation that develops when the immune system releases sustained responses within the body. Over time, it can lead to chronic disease and tissue damage. And because the inflammatory process is occurring within the body, symptoms aren’t always visible. Common chronic skin conditions are psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema.
Six Conditions That Can Cause Skin Inflammation
The list below is not all-inclusive but does provide information about common causes of skin inflammation.
- Infection. Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can call cause skin inflammation. Common bacterial skin infections include cellulitis and staph infections, common viral infections include warts and herpes simplex, and common fungal infections include ringworm and athlete’s foot. Additionally, seborrheic dermatitis – a chronic skin condition that causes red, scaly skin patches and dandruff – is thought to be caused by yeast that resides in the oil on your skin.
- Immune system dysfunction. Dysfunction within the immune system can cause immune cells to mistakenly attack your body’s own healthy cells, as is the case with psoriasis. If you have psoriasis, an overreactive immune response speeds up the skin cell production process and causes red, patchy skin lesions to develop on your body.
- Allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs if your immune system overreacts when it senses a foreign substance and sends cells to attack the invader. Foods, medications, and pollen can all trigger allergic reactions and cause skin redness, hives, and inflammation. Contact dermatitis causes irritation and rashes when your skin encounters poison ivy, poison oak, perfumes, skin care products, or strong chemicals.
- Gut condition. Today, researchers are studying the gut-skin balance. Increasingly, gut conditions and an imbalanced gut microbiome are linked to skin inflammation and chronic inflammatory skin conditions. Read more here.
- Photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is an extreme sensitivity to sunlight that can trigger an immune system response. A photosensitive reaction can be induced by spending time in the sun while taking certain medications, including some antibiotics and diuretics. Photosensitive skin becomes red, inflamed, and burned after only minimal UV radiation exposure.
- Injury or wound. Cuts, scrapes, burns, and surgical wounds causes redness, swelling, and warmth at the site of the injury. The immune system sends an inflammatory response to help heal damaged tissue.
Visit Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers for Treatment
Treatment for skin inflammation depends on its cause. Your doctor or dermatologist may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications called NSAIDs or corticosteroids to reduce areas of skin inflammation. If your inflammation is allergy-based, you may need antihistamines. And bacterial or viral infections require antibacterial or antifungal medications.
The medical professionals at Florida Dermatology and Skin Cancer Centers can accurately diagnose the cause of your skin inflammation and help you find the best treatment to meet your individual needs. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.