Do you suffer from skin inflammation? Find out what causes it, how to prevent it, and the best treatments for your skin.

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Skin Inflammation: Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

08/20/20238 min read

Has your skin been bothering you lately? If you’re noticing itchiness, redness, and bumps forming on your skin, you could have skin inflammation.

Several factors can cause skin inflammation, and some are unexpected. Luckily, there are many possible solutions and treatments to reduce inflammation.

Here at Bodewell, we want to help you discover what’s causing your skin inflammation and show you some possible solutions. Read on to discover how to calm your skin and ease your symptoms.

Table Of Contents

Causes Of Skin Inflammation

When your body senses that it needs to protect itself from something, it triggers an immune response. This can take the form of inflammation or a skin rash, and it can happen anywhere in the body. When inflammation happens on your skin, it can lead to itching and redness.

The cause of the inflamed skin can be acute or chronic depending upon how long your immune system takes to address the condition.

Acute inflammation is your body’s response to something sudden, while chronic inflammation is not connected to a specific event. It is a slow, long-term inflammation that lasts months or years.

While inflammation can result from a number of causes, the most common are allergic reactions, dermatitis, poison ivy or poison oak, extreme temperatures, and stress. But it can also be caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Let’s take a deeper look at these causes.

Allergic Reactions

When skin inflammation is caused by an allergic reaction, often, it will be an immediate response to contact with the allergen. Things like soap and laundry detergent, resins or varnishes, perfumes, and plant compounds often cause allergic reactions, especially on sensitive skin.

Food allergens are another common cause of inflammation, causing a rash, red bumps, hives, or itchiness.

In addition, the body can develop an allergy to any chemical or chemical combination, so don’t rule out an allergic reaction just because it may be an uncommon one.

Note: Some allergic reactions can be life-threatening and urgent. If you are experiencing dangerous symptoms, like itching or stinging in the mouth and throat or trouble breathing, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.


The term dermatitis refers to a broad spectrum of skin issues, including dandruff. Dandruff is a common condition in which dry skin flakes from your scalp. It can cause itchiness and inflammation.

Some dermatitis goes away on its own, but some cases can be hard to treat because it’s not always clear what’s causing them.


Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition causing red skin on the nose, forehead, and cheeks. It can be triggered by sun exposure or periods of stress. It’s very common, affecting more than 14 million people in the U.S.

Extreme Temperatures

Woman suffering from heat rash scratching her itchy skin

Extreme temperatures can also wreak havoc on sensitive skin.

Heat rash, for example, is a common cause of skin inflammation and often occurs when the skin is in prolonged contact with something hot or too much sun exposure. This rash happens because of sweat being trapped in the skin thanks to blocked sweat glands.

Cold temperatures can also cause skin inflammation. In fact, many people experience hives and itchiness or skin discoloration when exposed to harsh, cold weather.

The lack of moisture in cold air can dry out skin, as can the frequent use of heaters inside. Certain skin conditions may sometimes be exacerbated by cold temperatures as well.

Poison Oak And Poison Ivy

If you’ve been out hiking or running in the last few days and start to notice an intense itching or burning sensation in your skin, you might have run into a patch of poison ivy or poison oak. This can be a bummer when you’re trying to enjoy nature!

If you do have inflammation from poison oak or poison ivy, don’t scratch the affected area too much or touch it with other parts of your body. Scratching can make the irritation much worse.


Even without direct contact with irritating substances or extreme climates, you can develop skin inflammation from chronic or acute stress.

Because our skin has receptors for the stress hormone, cortisol, we see increased inflammation during these high-stress moments. In addition, if you already have an autoimmune condition, other chemicals can be released, making symptoms worse.

Viral Infections

Colds, chicken pox, shingles, flu-like viruses, and other infections can cause a skin rash during the time of illness, too. And the additional stress on your body can also contribute to inflammation.

Bacterial Infections

Unfortunately, some infections are caused by bacterial growth. These can result in oozing and discoloration and are considered more serious medical issues because they can enter your bloodstream or nearby bone and tissue and can be life-threatening.

Bacterial infections are often caused by something foreign entering your skin or by exposure to bacteria that can live on your skin. Examples include cellulitis, impetigo, and staphylococcal infections.

An Additional Note: If you have skin inflammation of any kind, be careful not to scratch it too much, as broken and cracked skin can easily become infected. Although many forms of skin inflammation are not a cause for concern, some can be a sign of a serious medical situation.

Make sure you contact a doctor if your inflammation:

  • Occurs suddenly
  • Spreads quickly
  • Begins to form blisters
  • Is accompanied by a fever
  • Is very painful to the touch

And if your inflammation is from an allergic reaction that is resulting in anaphylaxis, seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Man putting on hand cream

Treating Skin Inflammation

There are a few different ways you can treat skin inflammation, and the corresponding skin irritation, depending on its cause and what symptoms you’re having.

Topical treatments are also often an early line of defense and can give you immediate relief from the discomfort. These types of treatments are usually in the form of a cream, ointment, lotion, or spray and target the irritated skin using calming compounds.

Keep in mind that many topical treatments contain steroids and medications that can be harsh. Because of this, they are not advised for extended use.

Luckily, there are other, more natural options you can try for treating skin irritation. In fact, many plants and fungi have natural skin-soothing properties. Let’s take a look at some of these below.


1) Chamomile

You’ve probably heard of chamomile flowers, as chamomile tea is a common bedtime drink. It’s usually used to calm down and relax the mind, but it can also be used to heal skin irritation, soreness, and burns.

2) Common Mallow

Common mallow flower

A purple flower found almost everywhere in North America, Common Mallow has been reported to have very potent abilities when it comes to easing skin irritation. It can help your skin in other ways, too, with antioxidant, anticancer, and skin tissue-improving properties.

3) Lentils

Did you know the lentils you have in your dinner salad can also contribute to your skin health? That’s because lentils also are known to help with skin irritation.

In addition to these three plants, several others around the world contain natural properties that help with irritation. Unfortunately, it can be hard to access some of them.

Luckily, some products are designed to treat skin irritation naturally using these botanicals. For example, at Bodewell, our BW22 formulas contain these botanicals. They are clinically tested, and moisturize your skin to help it heal itself.

Bodewell products with this blend are designed to help relieve skin symptoms and formulated to help promote healthier and clearer-looking skin over time.

Start with a gentle body wash to cleanse all of your body from head to toe. Then moisturize to soothe and relieve your skin.

If you’re curious about what other plants have been reported to do, read more about the 22 botanicals found in the Bodewell formula here!

Bodewell BW22 Botanical Blend ingredients

Other Treatments

Besides the botanicals we just mentioned, there are other treatments that can help your irritated skin.

1) Aloe Vera Gel

Another way to fight skin irritation is by using aloe vera gel. Aloe vera reduces swelling in the skin making it less irritated. It works to fight off bacteria and fungi that can infect the skin.

2) Apple Cider Vinegar

This household staple can help restore your skin’s pH balance to reduce irritation.

3) Cold Compresses

Cold compresses can provide some relief from itching and irritation. The cold temperature will restrict your blood circulation, numbing the pain.

It’s as easy as this: Place a clean, wet washcloth in a plastic bag and freeze it for about 15 minutes. Then place it on the affected area for about 20 minutes. You can reapply the cold compress every two hours.

4) Oatmeal Bath

The ingredients for an oatmeal bath

Oatmeal is not just for breakfast. It can help relieve itch and irritation and even moisturize your skin. Colloidal oatmeal, which is just rolled oats ground into a fine powder and mixed with water, is often used to calm sensitive or irritated skin.

To take a colloidal oatmeal bath, just pour one cup of colloidal oatmeal into warm water. After a 15-minute soak, rinse your body thoroughly.

5) Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil can be helpful to reduce yeast overgrowth causing itchiness and irritation. It contains antiviral, antifungal, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. Using a product that includes this ingredient may help treat your irritated skin.

6) Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, both of which may cause skin irritation.

There are three main ways to increase your vitamin D intake: sunlight, diet — like vitamin D-rich foods such as fish and fish oil — and supplements.

7) Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can balance your skin’s microbiome and help with irritation. You’ll want to choose virgin coconut oil or cold-pressed coconut oil to be sure you have the best for your skin.

8) Soft Fabrics

When treating your irritated skin, you’ll want to be sure not to make it worse. Being conscious of the clothing you wear will help.

Choose soft, loose, breathable cotton or other natural fabrics that won’t scratch or chafe your skin.

9) Phototherapy

Phototherapy, or “light therapy,” helps to slow skin cell growth and relieve irritation. This treatment may be offered by your dermatologist.

Light therapy involves sitting under a light that is meant to mimic the effect of sunlight for a set period of time. UVB rays penetrate the outermost layer of skin, while UVA rays go deeper but are less intense.

Unfortunately, this is not a quick fix. Phototherapy treatments generally require six to eight sessions over several months, and the effect is temporary.

10) Calamine Lotion

If your irritated skin is due to poison ivy, poison oak, or another type of contact dermatitis, you can try the pink stuff — also known as calamine lotion — to soothe your skin.

Preventing Skin Inflammation

Some skin irritation is hard to pin down, but if you can figure out the cause, you can prevent further discomfort.

Choose Gentle Household Products

If your skin inflammation is being caused by allergens, you might need to switch your household products to something more gentle and hypoallergenic. Try natural laundry detergent and air fresheners, for example.

You’ll want to look for something with no harsh ingredients or ingredients you’ve had a reaction to in the past.

Incorporate A Good Skincare Routine

Woman rubbing lotion on her skin to prevent skin irritation

To prevent irritation of your skin, you’ll also want to establish a good skincare routine that works to protect your skin barrier.


You’ll want to stick to gentle cleansers to keep your skin healthy-looking and irritation-free. Like with your detergent, it’s always best to choose a cleanser that does not contain any harsh ingredients.

Lotions And Creams

In addition, applying lotions or creams to your skin regularly — even when you don’t have any inflammation — can go a long way toward keeping your skin healthy-looking.

This is because they create a barrier between your skin and the outside world, protecting you from environmental irritants.

Beneficial ingredients to look for in your lotions or creams include ceramides, niacinamide (vitamin B3), licorice extract, green tea, and calendula. You might also try to look for products containing antioxidants like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Resveratrol, or COQ10.

Daily Sunscreen

Applying your zinc oxide-based sunscreen in SPF 30 or more daily can help protect your skin and keep your skin looking healthy.

If you’re spending time out in the sun, be sure to reapply at least every two hours, and after swimming or sweating.

Take Cooler Showers And Baths

As hot water can irritate your skin, opt for cooler showers or baths. Although soaking in the tub or lingering in the shower can be relaxing, you’ll want to keep it to ten to 15 minutes maximum.

Skip any harsh exfoliator, as this could further irritate your skin. When you dry off, use your towel to pat your skin, rather than rubbing it. Before you’re completely dry, liberally apply your chosen moisturizer because it works even better on damp skin.

Stop Smoking

Smoking can lead to chronic inflammation, which can trigger skin conditions like psoriasis or allergic contact dermatitis.

Limit Drinking

Alcohol releases a histamine that causes irritation and redness. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption is associated with skin conditions like psoriasis.

Cutting down on alcohol, or better yet cutting it out completely, may help to prevent skin irritation.

Manage Stress

Stress can aggravate skin conditions, so it’s a good idea to focus on managing your stress.

Meditation, breathwork, and yoga can all be helpful in decreasing stress levels. Studies show that mindfulness meditation may even help the skin stay healthier.


Woman exercising with weights

Making time every day to exercise is another way to prevent skin irritation caused by inflammation. Try to add 30 minutes of aerobic exercise followed by 20 minutes of lifting weights four to five days a week.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent irritated skin. If you’re overweight, you may want to think about adjusting your diet and exercise routine.

Sleep Well

Your skin can suffer if you’re not getting eight hours of sleep each night. Because sleep is a homeostatic regulator — meaning it helps your body remain stable — if you don’t get enough sleep, it can trigger irritation.

Eat Healthy Foods

Plant-based diets full of nutrient-dense foods are the way to go to reduce skin distress. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and oils.

You’ll also want to add fatty fish to the menu. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna, and sardines, may help improve your cholesterol and preserve collagen in your skin.

If you’re not so much a fish person, then look to flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, and edamame for your source of omega-3s. Another idea is to sprinkle some turmeric on your food or add some ginger.

Of course, you’ll also want to skip processed foods. Refined sugars and grains in processed food also wreak havoc on the collagen and elastin in your skin.

Get Your Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another antioxidant that helps decrease skin irritation. Although mention of the vitamin always calls to mind oranges, other sources of vitamin C include kiwi, bell peppers, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli.

Woman applying cream to skin irritation

Relief On The Horizon

No matter why you are experiencing skin inflammation, there are answers to healing and relieving your skin. From applying medicinal salves and lotions to avoiding allergens, you can treat your skin with the soothing ingredients it needs while preventing further irritation.

Once you build a regimen to help support your skin’s restoration and health, you can expect the irritated area to return to the skin you love and feel comfortable in — it may just take a little patience.

While it can be frustrating and embarrassing to have a rash or unhealthy-looking skin, don’t let it get you down. With the right tools and treatments, you can get back to clearer and calmer-looking skin in no time!

American Academy of Dermatology
American Heart Association
Cleveland Clinic
Johns Hopkins Medicine
National Institute of Health

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