Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"What's causing my skin reaction?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat's causing my skin reaction?


My face is still healing from allergic and/or irritant contact dermatitis (still need further testing to determine specific allergen(s), as my entire face is healing. I have noticed that my face is very gritty and upon further inspection appears to be sloughing off; dead skin is quite visible up close. I also noticed that if I pressed down too hard (or rather too hard for my very fragile skin in this condition) as I am washing my face that those areas would develop small papules and/or pustules by the next face washing. I am wondering if this is a normal process of healing. Is this (the sloughing and gritty skin and papules and pustules when washing too vigorously) anything that I should be worried about? Is this permanent? What should I be doing to prevent this? At this point, I am using Cerave lotion at night on top of my aloe. In the morning, I just use aloe. I also wash with the Cerave hydrating wash both morning and night. Thank you for you time. Have a great day.


If you have not yet gone to see your primary care doctor or dermatologist about this issue, that would be the first step that I would recommend. There are a lot of reasons to have irritated or reddened skin on the face, including of course contact dermatitis, which is a reaction of the skin to one of many potential chemical or environmental triggers. If what you have going on is indeed contact dermatitis, then it would be possible for there to be flaking dead skin, as well as some uneven areas which might look like papules, as the skin is healing up. It is important not to wash the skin too vigorously while it is healing, as this is likely to worsen the irritation. Also, it is important to make sure that you are using the appropriate topical products to hasten healing. For example, if this is really a case of contact dermatitis severe enough to affect your entire face, then most of the time this requires a steroid cream in order to clear up. Lotions like Cerave or aloe will probably not be enough. Therefore, get in to see your doctor as soon as you can for advice on how to get your skin back to normal!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.