Erythema is redness of the skin
-Dermis:The dermis is the layer of skin beneath the epidermis that consists of connective tissue and cushions the body from stress and strain. The dermis is tightly connected to the epidermis by a basement membrane. It also harbors many Mechanoreceptors that provide the sense of touch and heat...

, caused by hyperemia of the capillaries in the lower layers of the skin. It occurs with any skin injury, infection, or inflammation. Examples of erythema not associated with pathology include nervous blushes.


Erythema disappears on finger pressure (blanching), while purpura
Purpura is the appearance of red or purple discolorations on the skin that do not blanch on applying pressure. They are caused by bleeding underneath the skin...

 or bleeding in the skin and pigmentation do not. There is no temperature elevation in erythema, unless it is associated with the dilation of arteries in the deeper layer of the skin.


It can be caused by infection
An infection is the colonization of a host organism by parasite species. Infecting parasites seek to use the host's resources to reproduce, often resulting in disease...

, massage
Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle"...

, electrical treatment, acne
Acne is a general term used for acneiform eruptions. It is usually used as a synonym for acne vulgaris, but may also refer to:*Acne aestivalis*Acne conglobata*Acne cosmetica*Acne fulminans*Acne keloidalis nuchae*Acne mechanica...

 medication, allergies
An Allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. Allergic reactions occur when a person's immune system reacts to normally harmless substances in the environment. A substance that causes a reaction is called an allergen. These reactions are acquired, predictable, and rapid...

, exercise, solar radiation (sunburn
A sunburn is a burn to living tissue, such as skin, which is produced by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, commonly from the sun's rays. Usual mild symptoms in humans and other animals include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, general fatigue, and mild dizziness. An excess of UV...

), cutaneous radiation syndrome, or waxing and tweezing of the hairs—any of which can cause the capillaries to dilate, resulting in redness. Erythema is a common side effect of radiotherapy treatment due to patient exposure to ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation is radiation composed of particles that individually have sufficient energy to remove an electron from an atom or molecule. This ionization produces free radicals, which are atoms or molecules containing unpaired electrons...


In about 30–50% of cases, the cause of erythema is unknown.

Circumoral erythema has been described as a typical sign of acute oleander
Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, toxic in all its parts. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Nerium. It is most commonly known as oleander, from its superficial resemblance to the unrelated olive Olea, but has many other...

 poisoning by ingestion.

May also be caused by Vitamin A toxicity.

Associated conditions

  • Erythema ab igne
    Erythema ab igne
    Erythema ab igne refers to skin that is reddened due to long-term exposure to infrared radiation. The term is derived from Latin and means "redness from fire".Erythema ab igne is a skin reaction caused by exposure to heat...

  • Erythema chronicum migrans
    Erythema chronicum migrans
    Erythema chronicum migrans refers to the rash often seen in the early stage of Lyme disease. It can appear anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite. This rash does not represent an allergic reaction to the bite, but rather an actual skin infection with the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia...

  • Erythema induratum
  • Erythema infectiosum (or fifth disease
    Fifth disease
    Erythema infectiosum or fifth disease is one of several possible manifestations of infection by erythrovirus, previously called parvovirus B19. The disease is also referred to as slapped cheek syndrome, slapcheek, slap face or slapped face. In Japan the disease is called 'apple sickness' or...

  • Erythema marginatum
    Erythema marginatum
    Erythema marginatum is described as the presence of pink rings on the trunk and inner surfaces of the limbs which come and go for as long as several months. It is found primarily on extensor surfaces....

  • Erythema migrans
    Erythema migrans
    Erythema chronicum migrans refers to the rash often seen in the early stage of Lyme disease. It can appear anywhere from one day to one month after a tick bite. This rash does not represent an allergic reaction to the bite, but rather an actual skin infection with the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia...

  • Erythema multiforme
    Erythema multiforme
    Erythema multiforme is a skin condition of unknown cause, possibly mediated by deposition of immune complex in the superficial microvasculature of the skin and oral mucous membrane that usually follows an infection or drug exposure...

  • Erythema nodosum
    Erythema nodosum
    Erythema nodosum is an inflammation of the fat cells under the skin characterized by tender red nodules or lumps that are usually seen on both shins...

  • Erythema toxicum
    Erythema toxicum
    Erythema toxicum neonatorum is a common rash in neonates. It appears in up to half of newborns carried to term, usually between day 2-5 after birth....

  • Keratolytic winter erythema
    Keratolytic winter erythema
    Keratolytic Winter erythema , also known as erythrokeratolysis hiemalis, Oudtshoorn disease and Oudtshoorn skin, is a rare autosomal dominant skin disease of unknown etiology which causes erythema and keratolysis of the skin on the palms and soles. Onset, increased prominence and severity usually...

  • Palmar erythema
    Palmar erythema
    Palmar erythema is reddening of the palms at the thenar and hypothenar eminences.-Causes:It is associated with various physiological as well as pathological changes, the principal one of which is portal hypertension. It is also seen in patients with liver dysfunction, such as chronic liver disease...

External links

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