Itchy Face and Facial Rash – Causes, Treatment, Pictures

Facial Itching

Itching of the face is a common symptom that every person experience, often on a frequent basis. In most case it is a mild it that is quickly relieved with rubbing or scratching. The face is the most exposed part of the body as it is almost never covered. It is constantly bombarded by the environment through dust, dirt, microbes, wind, heat, cold and other irritants. These are easily removed with washing. Sometimes the skin is very sensitive and even a mild irritant, that may not irritate every person, can cause itching. It may be associated with allergies or even skin diseases. An itchy face usually does not need any specific medical treatment unless it becomes persistent and is associated with a skin rash or other symptoms that indicates a problem.

Causes of Itchy Face

Psychological Causes

Facial itching is at times imagined or associated with nervous behavior. Sometimes a person may not experience any itching yet scratch the face regularly. Apart from a nervous disposition, itching is also at times a sign of being untruthful as are many other nervous tics.

Treatment may involve counseling or the use of anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication. In most cases though, no specific treatment is needed.

Unwashed Face

Dirt, dust and microbes are constantly making contact with the face. These contaminants if not removed can irritate the skin. An unwashed face tends to be itchy. It men this may sometimes be associated with facial hair which tends to trap and hold contaminants.

Treatment involves good hygiene by regularly washing the face.

Dry Skin

Dry skin is a very common cause of an itchy face, second only to poor hygiene. It can occur at any time in the year but is more common in winter. Seasonal dryness and itching is therefore often referred to as the winter itch. However, the constant exposure to air conditioned environments particularly in settings like the workplace can dry out the skin. Facial itching due to climatic conditions is also more likely to occur in windy environments.

Dryness of the skin leading to itching may also occur with :

  • Excessive washing of the face, particularly with hot water and harsh soaps can also dry off your facial skin. Most soaps, particularly heavily scented varieties, and facial washes dry out the skin on the face.
  • Alcohol based products, like men’s aftershave and antiseptic soaps, are known to cause excessive dryness.
  • Acne products also tend to dry out the skin as part of its chemical action to combat pimples.
  • Sun exposure, which does cause additional oil secretion and sweating, eventually has a harsh drying effect on the skin.

Treatment would involve proper moisturizing of the skin, avoiding any conditions or products that dry the skin and using sunscreen for adequate protection.


An allergy, or hypersensitivity, may be a result of allergic skin diseases or irritants to the face in a person who otherwise does not have these conditions. Allergic skin diseases that are more likely to present with itching includes atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis or urticaria (hives). Pollen, pet hair, molds and dust may trigger the allergic reaction. Other irritants that may also be responsible for an allergic reaction even in the absence of skin diseases includes :

  • Hair dyes (itchy scalp, front, eyelids, neck, and often marked facial swelling)
  • Shampoos (itchy scalp and/or face)
  • Cosmetics (itchy face)
  • Food and medications (itchy lips, mouth, throat, and upper body)
  • Head lice (itchy scalp, neck, shoulders, face)
  • Pollens (itchy eyes and nose)
  • Jewelry (itch and rash at the site of skin contact)

Treatment may involve the use of antihistamines and corticosteroids. Severe cases associated with anaphylaxis require adrenaline (epinephrine). A more important measure, however, is to prevention by avoiding the trigger.


The skin and hair follicles may become infected by a number of different microbes. Itchiness is a common symptoms in some of these conditions. The infectious causes of an itchy skin may include :

  • Childhood viral infections often present with skin rashes that may cause itching in many cases. In chickenpox (Varicella zoster), measles (Rubeola virus), German measles (Rubella virus), or fifth disease (Parvovirus B19), itchy papules or vesicles appear on the face and trunk. These skin lesions crust over and disappear or peel off after about a week. These infections will resolve on its own with no specific treatment being necessary. Treatment may involve the use of anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen to reduce any inflammation and various types of skin applications like calamine lotion, urea creams or just plain emollients.
Herpes zoster on the face
Picture 1. Herpes zoster
(Sourced from Dermatology Atlas,
Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D.
  • Herpes simplex infection usually appears as a group of small, translucent, burning blisters around the mouth (cold sore). Severe infection may be treated with antiviral drugs (acyclovir).
  • Herpes zoster infection (shingles) may present with a chronic burning or itchy rash which tends to follow the course of the trigeminal nerve branches. It is usually only on one side of the face. Treatment is with oral acyclovir.
  • Dengue fever is a self-limiting viral disease with fever, itchy rash and small bleedings on the skin. It is transmitted from human to human by mosquitoes. It appears worldwide, except in Europe and Antarctica.
  • Tinea barbae is a fungal infection of the bearded area in men. It can be passed from person to person but may also be contracted from animals. It is caused by a number of Trichophyton and Microsporum species of fungi, some of which naturally reside on human skin. A tinea infection of the skin of the face is known as tinea faciei. Treatment is with anti-fungal drugs applied on the skin (topical) or ingested (oral).

Skin Diseases

A number of skin disease may present with itching of the face. These skin diseases also present with a skin rash in most cases and other symptoms that allow it to be differentiated from less obvious causes. Excessive scratching in these cases often leads to permanent discoloration of the skin.

Seborrheic dermatitis of the face

Picture 2. Seborrheic dermatitis.
systemic lupus erythematosus - SLE

Picture 3. Systemic lupus erythematosus.
Lentigo maligna - melanoma on the face

Picture 4. Melanoma on the cheek
(source: Samuel Freire da Silva, M.D.
Dermatology Atlas)

  • Acne vulgaris is the common type of acne seen more often in teens. It is associated with excessive oil (sebum) production, blockage of the pores with blackheads and whiteheads and bacterial infections of the skin. Pimples, or zits, may be painful and the skin may be painful even without pimples in the area. Acne does not always cause skin itching. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition. Mild causes can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) soaps, face washes and other drying and antibacterial agents. For more severe cases, treatment may involve oral contraceptives (females), antibiotics and isotretinoin.
  • Acne rosacea, just referred to as rosacea these days, is a skin condition marked with severe redness due to widespread inflammation.  These areas of redness may appear as patches or slight raised lesions. It is often worsened with sunlight exposure. Treatment is with antibiotics, isotretionin and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Pseudofolliculitis barbae (ingrown hair, razor bumps) is an inflammation of the hair follicle after shaving, and not an infection. It mostly occurs in men with curly hair. Prevention is by avoiding shaving hair close to the skin. Lotion with glycolic acid may be used at night to prevent inflammation. In resistant cases, antibiotics or laser hair removal may be tried.
  • Cholinergic urticaria (heat rash).
  • Irritant contact dermatitis may occur with contact to any number of substances like cosmetics, sunscreens and even aftershaves. Saliva may also cause skin irritation, and this is more common in children.
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema) appears mostly in children with asthma or other allergies. It runs in families. Rash may appear on the face or anywhere on the body, often on the limbs. Treatment is by avoiding triggering substances, moisturizing creams and corticosteroid ointments.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin with greasy, yellowish, scaly clusters of shed skin cells appear on the scalp, behind the ears, the armpits and groin. It may be associated with skin fungi but is not a fungal infection. Treatment involves zinc, selenium, sulfur, salicylic acid or tar shampoos and ointment.

Other Causes

  • Insect bites can occur on any site on the body and the face is more commonly attacked by mosquitoes and other airborne insets. There may be an allergic reaction, infection or localized skin irritation following a bite. Severe allergic reactions like anaphylaxis need to be treated with adrenaline. A combination of antihistamines with antiseptic, urea and calamine lotions may be sufficient for treatment.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). A red skin patch in the form of a “butterfly rash” extends over the nose and cheeks. The joints and vessels are often affected. Treatment is with steroid ointments and various other medications.
    Rash also often appears in other rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis, polyarteritis nodosa, temporal arteritis.
  • Dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory muscle disease with skin rash. Violaceus rash and swelling around the eyes, on the back of the fingers and elbows or knees is characteristic.
  • Melanoma is highly malignant, fast growing, dark pigmented (brown, black or bluish) tumor, from few millimeters to few centimeters in size. It usually grows in the level of the skin, or appears as a raised tumor. Treatment is with a surgical removal. Squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma usually appear as a crust like tumor on the face, eyelids, ears, lips, or scalp. Treatment may involve surgery or radiotherapy.

Treatment of Itchy Face

The treatment of facial itching is largely dependent on the cause and individual treatments have been discussed above. General measures for treating an itch includes :

  • Antihistamines (oral)
  • Corticosteroids (topical)

However, the underlying cause needs to be treated or the itching will persist indefinitely. Sometimes simple measures are sufficient if there is no clearly identifying cause of facial itching. This may include :

  • Washing the face regularly with gentle soaps like baby soaps and non-scented soaps.
  • Drying the face thoroughly after bathing
  • Using a moisturizer or emollient for dry skin.
  • Avoiding skin creams and cosmetics on oily skin
  • Protecting the skin with suitable sunscreens.

Related Articles:

  • Itchy Scalp
  • Itchy Eyes
  • Itchy Throat
  • Itchy Eyelids
  • Itchy Rash on the Neck
  • Causes of Itchy Skin
About Jan Modric (249 Articles)
Health writer

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  • Hi Luka. Yes it is very possible that this is due to facial hair and scratching could lead to further irritation and even an infection. Given your age acne may also be a consideration. Even though it may not be anything serious it would still be advisable that you seek some medical advice. Try not to scratch. If it is itching and you have to make contact with the area then rub instead of scratching.

  • vedd

    I have itching on my face and some. Pimples like structure please tell some solution

  • Nefelibata

    Hi, I’m a teenager, female. Hope you’ll answer me. I don’t have time to go to dermatologist so I’m doing self medication. I found out that for sensitive skin I should only use mild cleanser. I’m actually not sure about my skin type. It’s acne-prone, I got blackheads, whiteheads, really large pores and also zits and pimples (lot in my left cheek) and I sweat easily so I decided to use a mild cleansing gel, I’ve been using it for five days now and I noticed after washing my face feel itchy and there are little red circular spots. After 30 minutes or less it’s gone. Hope you’ll tell me what do you think about it and also the cleanser is super mild and it has no fragrance, for all skin types but I’m worried about what’s happening.

  • Hi Vedd. If it really is pimples then you will need to commence with acne treatment. However, you should not make an assumption on your own. Many skin conditions appear the same to the untrained eye. You should first see a doctor, preferably a dermatologist, and then have the appropriate treatment prescribed. That would be the best and most effective solution.

  • urmi

    I am 28. My skin type was oily. But don’t know how from last year i’m feeling dryness and itching in my facial also peeled out resulting spot all over my face. I have tried a lot home remedies like honey mask, milk cream etc and putting Vaseline on face before sleeping. But nothing seems to be worked. Really confused what to do.can you please suggest me?

  • Lynda Bausor

    Hi.Lynda here from UK. 49 years old,I have never suffered from acne, I have pimple spots/rash,oner cheeks/chin/forehead and bridge of my nose. Have had to have hospital treatment, for a fibroglossal duct cyst flare up,and had intrevinus drip of Steroids and antibiotics. The spot rash thing goes away,while having treatment,then 2/4 days after I am home, it all flares up again sometime its itchy,but not driving me mad. Can this be Lupus? Help!!!

  • Hi Lynda. It is possibly a “butterfly rash” which is a characteristic symptom of SLE (lupus) but there is no way for us to confirm this with any certainty through an online platform. If your doctors suspect so then they will run the necessary tests for lupus. However, there are other causes that also need to be considered here and you should consult with a dermatologist. Acne can arise later in life around the menopausal years even if you didn’t have acne earlier in life.

  • Muneer Khan

    since one year I am struggling with sunburn, pimples, and itching on face, I started using sebamed soap and planning to use sebamed cleaning face wash. I have consultant doctors but its not helping me.
    how do I identify the cause of the itching on face, any good product to remove sunburn from the face and any good whitening cream

  • Shaniya Elien

    The sides of my mouth started itching a little but that usually happens then stops, but then for the first time 2 days later at least 4 bumps showed up on the right side of my mouth only. Now I’ve never kissed anybody, and haven’t had any type of herpes or certain diseases. I know that doesn’t have to be the only reason but I don’t know what it is, and I’ve tried ointments and an antihistamine but nothing has changed. What can I take for it to go away. Please.

  • Abigail

    Hi! I am experiencing mild face itch at the lower cheeks area before i sleep almost every night. There were red patches annd tiny bumps. It gets better during the day but once i wash my face, it starts again. Not only that, i also have mild outer ear itch and antihistamines dont seem to be working for me ;/ I tried changing pillow case as well.

  • Hi Abigail. There are many possibilities and it could even be a reaction to soap and water. If you are using any creams on your face then you may want to stop for a few days to see if it eases. The same goes for makeup. Even if it does ease, it would be advisable to speak to your doctor and possibly consult with a dermatologist. This could be a start of some skin condition and if you leave it unattended it could get worse over time.

  • Austin

    Hi, I am in need of some help.. I have been to a dermatologist about my acne problems but the medicine is not working. My dermatologist prescribed me retin and clindamycin but I have seen no changes. I have also tried aloe Vera, Panoxyl and even cocoa butter to try to resolve the issue but nothing seems to work.. My problem is not so much zits, it’s dry skin. Everytime I get out of the shower, my face looks like a peeling snake. It never seems to fail. Over time, this excessive drying and peeling has caused my face to become red. Here recently when I get nervous or am under pressure, my faces tingles and itches. My scalp also itches every once in a while.. I have tried different soaps but none seem to do the job.. And the medicine that I was prescribed by my doctor only makes my dryness worse.. They say to use lotion on my face but it doesn’t help either… Im 18 years old and stuck between and rock and a hard place… It’s very aggravating, stressful and embarrass.. Any help would be appreciated. Also this has only been happening for about a year and a half

  • Austin

    Hi.. I have tried posting but it did not go through.. Here in the last year and a half I have been experiencing really bad dry skin. Every time I take a shower, I get out and my entire face (forehead, checks, chin, nose) is really flaky and dry. I have tried different soaps that are recommended by dermatologist and I have also used medicine prescribed by my dermatologist but nothing seems to work. I have tried mositurizers but when I apply them, all I do is irritate the dry skin and make it flake up. This flakiness has resulted in my cheeks and forehead being red as well. Any help would be greatly appreciated. It’s like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I apply moisturizers or lotion then my skin becomes irritated and usually leads to pimples, but the dry skin will not go away. Sometime I experience hot flashes and my face become itchy and tingles.

  • Hi Austin. It is advisable that you follow up with the dermatologist. From what you are describing there seems to be more to the problem than just dry flaky skin. Remember that dry flaky skin may just be a symptom of an underlying skin disease. There are many possible causes but considering that you seem to have more of a reaction after making contact with certain substances (soap and water) it is possible that this could be contact dermatitis, or that these substances are aggravating an underlying skin disorder. It is really difficult to say for sure. You dermatologist will be able to advise your further after reassessing your condition.

  • i have itchy skin on…. extensor carpi radialis longus (ELBOW) , Back of my NECK , (back of my shoulder (left) then sometimes in groin.SPECIALLY i have an itchy tingling feeling on MY FACE – esp. CHEEKS and CHIN 🙁
    what is this…? i experienced this almost 1 year plus+ … I never go to derma or specialist doctor about skin but I’ve been checked up from 3 kinds of Doctor (QUACK) or quack doctor ” THEY SAID that IT WAS an ALLERGY ” and I was SHOCKED! I can’t believe.. what I’m supposed to do? the itchy always back day by the sometimes every 12 hours, then again stop.then continued back..
    when i rubbed my face, because of itchyness.. I spit blood 🙁 (saliva with blood 🙁 )
    i don’t know what is this… can you help me what I’m supposed to do? 🙁

  • Mitzi Von

    Granted, I have had eczema in the past but what I have going on recently does not clear up with medications used for eczema but yet, every time I waste $ going to any doctor, I get the same diagnosis. This itching rash usually affects my face and hands, and appears out of nowhere, and woke me up 2 nights ago to severe, extreme itching. I am presently under employed/uninsured, have tried many home remedies but, nothing helps except time. I have rheumotoid arthritis, and recently was hospitalized for perforated diverticulitis but due to no insurance, they would not even consider treating me for anything besides stabilizing my present condition, and getting me out of there. I have become desperate, embarrassed, depressed, and somewhat of a recluse. I visit a clinic occasionally but, he agrees with dermatologists, and other doctors so, I receive no resolution there either. I am on the brink of giving up. I need help yesterday, and do not want to take matters into my own hands because I will try anything to alleviate the problem!