Skin is determined genetically from birth. Unfortunately, however, those of us with fairer skin seem to be more prone to uneven, red, inflamed or blotchy skin. Jodie King explains.

Both men and women can be effected, but due to hormonal shifts and pregnancy, women are more likely to develop this problem. It usually develops around child-bearing age and can worsen as we age.

What is blotchy skin?

Blotchy skin is usually associated with red, sometimes irritated and itchy skin, as well as darker patches of skin that most commonly occur on the face, but also the neck and other parts of the body. Causes may include stress, genetics, hormones as well as environmental impacts such as UV exposure and changes in seasons (weather extremes) and lifestyle (excessive alcohol and smoking).

Broken capillaries, also known as telangiectasia, are more likely to occur if you have a dry, thin or sensitive skin or those suffering from skin conditions such as rosacea or acne.

Commonly found on the nose and cheek areas, these capillaries sit very close to the surface of the skin, making them more visible. Oxygen/ nutrient deprived skin due to smoking and excessive drinking as well as extreme temperatures can all have an effect.

What makes it worse?

Excessive scrubbing or inappropriate home skincare for your skin type can lead to broken capillaries. Remember: no two skins are alike – just because your friend’s skin looks fantastic using that new product does not mean that yours will.

When your skin is over exfoliated, or inappropriate skin care is used, this leads to a breakdown of the stratum corneum –  the skin’s outer layer that is there to protect against pathogens, sun and environmental toxins. The skin’s natural repair system will go into overdrive, speed up oil production and lead to inflammation causing this redness. These small red or pink ‘threads’ are part of the network of veins that carries the blood supply of the face.

When the walls of these tiny veins narrow and widen too quickly, they may tear, allowing blood to seep out and visibly mark the area of damage. As these capillaries are just below the skin’s surface, they are not difficult to damage

Blotchy skin be a symptom of chronic skin conditions

These include dermatitis, a condition that results in inflammation and a disrupted barrier of the skin causing irritation and dryness.  Skin appears red, inflamed and dry. Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that presents as flushing of the skin. Both conditions will give the appearance of blotchy skin. In the case of rosacea, certain triggers can lead to the skin flushing. Both of these conditions are not preventable but can be managed with appropriate treatments.

What are other causes of blotchy skin?
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, stress and excessive exercise can increase blood pressure, causing the capillaries to dilate and over time, causes these ‘broken capillaries’.
  • Smoking causes oxidative stress so that insufficient oxygen reaches the tissues resulting in blocking of the blood vessel, which in turn leads to dilation of the capillaries.
  • Poor diets affect the body’s ability to regenerate itself. Excessive UV exposure and repeated sunburn break down collagen, making these vessels more visible.
Best treatments for blotchy skin
  • IPL and lasers impede the blood flow of the capillaries and destroy them. The treated veins will be removed by the bodies natural processes
  • Blue and Red LED light therapies can aid reducing redness by stimulation of the tissue and therefore give an improved tone and elasticity of the skin
  • At home care is imperative to strengthen the skin. At Skin Clinic @Blyss we recommend a cream-based cleanser such as Skin Medical Sensitive Skin Cleanser, as well as products containing niacinimde (DR Aspect Multi B) and a protective balm such as Cosmedix Rescue+ Balm to reduce water evaporation from the skin (trans epidermal water loss – TEWL) that causes dehydration AND always the use of a quality SPF.
Lifestyle changes to manage blotchy skin
  • A balanced diet can increase nutrients and oxygen making their way around the body and have positive effects on blotchy skin
  • Avoiding triggers such as spicy foods, corticosteroids (causes dilation of blood vessels) and stress, can improve this condition
  • Quitting smoking and avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol is also recommended of course.

Contact us for a consultation.

Article originally written for interview with Beth England at