What’s Causing the Itchy Rash On Your Forehead?

And how to treat the rash

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A rash on the forehead could have a number of causes, including an allergic reaction to an allergen or irritant and several skin conditions. Often, it will help to simply change the skin care products you use on your forehead. In some cases, when the cause is an underlying skin condition, you will need to consult your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment.

This article discusses the causes and treatment of a rash on the forehead.

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What Are the Causes of an Itchy Rash on the Forehead?

Rashes with different causes can have different appearances. Some rashes may look red and swollen while others may appear flaky, bumpy, or scaly. Some may develop blisters and ooze or bleed. Your symptoms may help point to the cause.

Dry Skin

Dry skin doesn't always cause a rash, but it can be itchy. When you scratch itchy skin, it can turn red and develop into a rash.

Dry skin can be caused by:

  • Cold, dry weather, and other environmental factors
  • Using soaps, makeup, or lotions that contain harsh chemicals or are abrasive
  • Washing your face too often
  • Washing your face with very hot water
  • Wearing hats or bandanas with itchy fabrics

Hair Care Products and Dry Skin

Hair care products, dyes, shampoos, hair spray, and other hair styling products are common culprits of an itchy forehead without a rash. Many of these products contain things known to irritate the skin, including:

  • Sulfates
  • Alcohol
  • Mineral oil
  • Synthetic fragrances

Allergic Reaction

One of the most common causes of an itchy forehead with a rash is an allergic response to something the skin has had direct contact with, a condition that is medically coined contact dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is caused by direct contact with irritants or allergens.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis include a red rash that is:

  • Swollen
  • Burning or stinging
  • Blistered (may also be oozing or crusting)
  • Dry and cracked
  • Scaly
  • Itchy
  • Painful

Contact dermatitis will usually clear up after the irritant or allergen that caused the skin reaction has been removed.

Other causes of an itchy forehead with a rash may include:


Viruses like chickenpox and measles can cause a rash on the forehead, but these rashes also appear elsewhere on the body. If you have one of these conditions, you will also experience other symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue.

Shingles can also cause small clusters of blisters that break open and then crust over. The rash usually appears in the later stages of the disease and can last a few weeks.

Bacterial Infections

An infection with a staphylococcal bacteria can cause a rash on the forehead. These types of rashes are very common and happen when bacteria that are normally present on your skin enter through a cut or scrape. You may only have one bump of lesion or you may have more than one. If the infection is caused by a bacteria that is resistant to antibacterial medication (MRSA), you will need to have the rash treated by a healthcare provider.

Impetigo is caused by an infection with streptococcus bacteria. This bacteria causes strep throat, but it can also cause a skin infection.

Impetigo causes groups of small, red spots to appear on the skin. The spots are itchy and will break open, ooze, and then crust over as the condition progresses. The fluid inside the spots is contagious


Rosacea is a skin condition that causes a rash on the face. The rash can simply be red or it can be red with bumps. Rosacea is a chronic condition, but symptoms can come and go. A flare up can be triggered by certain foods, stress, or sun exposure.


Psoriasis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory skin disease that is considered an autoimmune disorder.


Eczema is a chronic skin condition that involves periods of flare-ups and remissions. It is considered an autoimmune disorder. There are several types of eczema, including atopic eczema (the most common form) and contact dermatitis.


Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicle. This happens with the follicle gets irritated or becomes infected with bacteria. When folliculitis occurs on the face, it is called acnes.




When seborrhea affects the scalp, it's called "dandruff," but the condition can also affect other parts of the face such as the forehead.

Seborrheic dermatitis may appear along your hairline and can look like oily scales or powder. It can be treated with the same medications used to treat dandruff, but you should always consult a healthcare provider before using these products on the skin. 


When your pores become clogged, the skin around them may become dry. This is why acne can sometimes be itchy. You may also experience itchiness as a side effect of medications used to treat acne such as benzoyl peroxide. Heat and sweat can make acne itch, too. 

You might notice increased itchiness of acne lesions as they are healing. The healing process can cause dead skin cells to dry and flake off, which causes the itching sensation.

Heat Rash

A heat rash can appear on any part of your body, including your forehead. Heat rash appears as tiny bumps on the skin. These bumps are filled with trapped sweat and may become inflamed. More serious cases of heat rash can produce larger, hard bumps that are the same color as your skin.

Heat rash typically occurs in hot or humid weather. It can feel itchy or burning. Heat rash usually improves without treatment, but products like calamine lotion or anhydrous lanolin can help it get better faster. If the rash worsens over time or you develop other symptoms such as a fever or oozing, see your healthcare provider as these are signs of infection. 

Drug Rash

Drug rashes can happen when you use certain medications such as antibiotics. These types of rashes can occur immediately after you start taking a drug or days or weeks later. The rash may begin on your torso and spread to your arms and legs.

If you're taking medication and you develop hives along with difficulty breathing, it's a sign that you need to seek emergency care right away. A rash that spreads to the face can also be a sign that your reaction needs immediate treatment.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

When symptoms of an itchy forehead (with or without a rash or red spots) do not respond to treatment or prevention measures (such as eliminating irritants), or when the symptoms are severe enough to disrupt your daily routine, it’s important to see your healthcare provider. 

How Do You Treat an Itchy Rash on the Forehead?

The treatment of an itchy forehead depends on the underlying cause of the symptoms.

Skin Conditions

Treatment of atopic dermatitis (eczema) may include a prescription for a topical (on the skin) steroid cream to help alleviate inflammation and itching. 

For contact dermatitis, the treatment may involve a patch test to help identify and eliminate irritants or allergens that are causing an itchy forehead with a rash. It’s important to have a healthy home skincare routine, using only the approved skin care products, such as those suggested by the National Eczema Association.

If eczema is severe, your doctor may prescribe an oral (by mouth) or injectable medication, such as a corticosteroid to treat symptoms like severe inflammation.

For other itchy skin conditions, you can try taking an over-the-counter antihistamine (to treat symptoms of itching caused by an allergic reaction) or using a product such as colloidal oatmeal to help ease symptoms.

How Do You Prevent an Itchy Rash on the Forehead?

Prevention measures for the most common cause of an itchy forehead—dry skin—include:

  • Using a humidifier when the air is dry
  • Avoiding the use of hot water when showering or washing the hair
  • Eliminating the use of products with harsh ingredients (such as soaps, shampoos, cosmetics, and more) that may irritate the skin
  • Eating a healthy diet (including healthy fats such as olive oil or avocados to help prevent dry skin)
  • Wearing sunscreen to protect the skin from burning
  • Establishing a healthy skin care routine


An itchy rash on the forehead can have a number of potential causes. Some of these are skin conditions that can be treated with topical medications or home remedies. Others are more serious conditions caused by infection with a virus or a reaction to medication.

See your healthcare provider if you have a rash on your forehead that is severe enough to interfere with your daily routine, doesn't respond to treatment, or is accompanied by other symptoms such as a fever, stiff neck, or trouble breathing. 

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cleveland Clinic. Do you itch? Know the signs of an underlying medical problem.

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Contact dermatitis.

  3. Michigan Medicine. UOFM Health. Scalp Problems.

By Sherry Christiansen
Sherry Christiansen is a medical writer with a healthcare background. She has worked in the hospital setting and collaborated on Alzheimer's research.