ZocdocAnswersWhy does my skin get red so easily?

Question

Why does my skin get red so easily?

I'm a 20 year old, and for about 4 years now my skin has turned red (and sometimes a little swollen) very easily; when I scratch my arm lightly, for example, or sometimes just when I brush hair out of my eyes and my fingers brush against my forehead. The redness only lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes, and the condition has been getting less extreme since I first noticed it 4 years ago (the discoloration used to last closer to 45 minutes), but I still don't really know why it happens. Is it some kind of deficiency?

Answer

You probably do not need to worry about this complaint. Basically, certain individuals have very sensitive skin in which the blood vessels and inflammatory cells living under the skin react to very minor stimulation. Dermatographism, which is the red marks that appear when you scratch your arm, is a classic example of this. Generally, dermatographism and related skin findings are not a major medical concern, although they can be a bit cosmetically unappealing when they occur. Of course, you can limit this by trying to remember not to scratch or otherwise manipulate the skin when you are out in public. If you have other allergic or concerning symptoms you might want to see your doctor. In particular, if you ever have episodes where you have swelling of your lips, face, or tongue or if you ever experience sudden wheezing or trouble breathing, these are signs of a serious allergic or inflammatory reaction and you should seek emergency medical care. Furthermore, if you have ever had an episode like this, you should probably carry an epinephrine pen with you. Talk to your primary care doctor to determine whether this is appropriate.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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