From time to time, we may experience redness or flushing of the face due to a change of emotions, a reaction to food or medication, or as a symptom of an underlying health condition.
A flushed face can be very embarrassing to some people, especially if it lingers and spreads to other parts of the body. Facial flushing can be treated depending on the cause.
What Causes Facial Flushing?
Our face turns a red hue as blood rushes to the blood vessels near the skin’s surface. A range of emotions from anger to embarrassment can produce what is called a blushing expression. It usually quickly fades, but in some cases, it remains or becomes a permanent side effect of prescribed drugs or illness. Take a look at what causes the flushed face condition.
One of the more common causes of facial flushing is a change in our emotional state. A person may present with mild to extreme red coloring across their face, neck, and chest in response to their perspective of their environment, conversation, or thought process. Embarrassment and anger are the two most common triggers of facial flushing. Stress, anxiety, and guilt may also prompt the release of the adrenaline hormone that causes blood vessels to dilate. Other factors promoting a flushed face include physical exertion and sexual intercourse.
The rise in the body’s temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate during an exercise routine or sport can result in a flushed face. Some people experience a light redness on the face, while others will have an expression of bright red color. Exercise stimulates an increase in blood flow to supply the muscles with blood and oxygen, especially during strenuous activities.
Varying shades of redness can be caused by the body’s response to cold weather temperatures. Those cute little rosy red cheeks we often see on young children occur as the body tries to regulate its temperature. Chilly, cool winds can also have the same effect.
4. High Blood Pressure
An increase in your blood pressure may cause your face and neck to have a deep red coloring, though it’s sometimes confused with the emotion anger. Flushed face high blood pressure happens when the arteries are narrowed or blocked and an insufficient amount of blood is being carried through the body.
5. Food Reaction
Hot drinks and spicy food may result in a flushed face. The ingredients or chemical additives, such as MSGs, in food can cause this harmless reaction in many people. These additives can sometimes cause an allergic reaction, which may be life-threatening.
6. Allergic Reaction
A person with an allergy to certain foods, medications, or substances may show signs of facial flushing, along with other symptoms. An allergic reaction takes place when the immune system mistakenly attacks what it perceives as a harmful substance. Anaphylaxis shock, which can lead to death if not immediately treated, can also produce a flushed face. Other symptoms of this major allergic reaction are breathing difficulties, a drop in blood pressure, and fainting.
Facial flushing and breathing difficulty combined with hives, chest pain, and nausea could indicate an allergic reaction to your prescribed medication. There are medications that may also cause a flushed face with no allergen issues. These include morphine, calcium channel blockers, nicotinic acid, vasodilators, thyroid releasing hormone drugs, and tamoxifen, to name a few.
Alcohol can cause facial flushing in some people, particularly those of Asian descent. The properties of alcohol cause an increase of blood flow in the vessels, which expand and result in the red coloring of the face and neck. The combination of some medications and alcohol may also result in facial flushing.
9. Skin Conditions
A common symptom of skin disorders is a red coloring of the face. This is common with rosacea. Researchers have yet to determine why the condition exists but have pinpointed certain circumstances that cause the blood vessels to become inflamed including warming temperatures, spicy foods, and stress.
During menopause, more than 80% of women experience facial flushing. This is linked to hot flashes and a decrease in the production of estrogen and progesterone hormones.
How to Treat a Flushed Face
A flushing face doesn’t usually require treatment as it will dissipate within a few minutes. For situations that are not temporary, there are natural remedies and lifestyle changes that may alleviate and prevent further issues. As with all symptoms of serious health conditions, it’s important to seek medical advice first. Check out the following treatments for face flushing.
- Cool the body with cold fluids and foods such as ice water, lemon juice, grapefruit, mint, brown rice, barley, and watermelon.
- Avoid processed caffeine, sugar, red meat, spices, and dairy products.
- Use herbs such as St. Mary’s thistle, dandelion, passionflower, sacred basil, and Siberian ginseng.
- Exercise by walking and swimming to manage body temperature.
- Control stress with meditation, yoga, and avoiding extra workload.
There are some health conditions and symptoms beyond our control, and facial flushing seems to be one of them. A verbal agreement with a loved one or an embarrassing joke can turn our face various shades of red within seconds. Thankfully this is a temporary reaction and quickly disappears after a few seconds. It’s when a flushed face is caused by a health condition or strenuous activity that we may reach for a solution. It may also be a symptom of an underlying health issue and require medical advice. Most causes of facial flushing can be treated and prevented without further stress and discomfort.
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“What’s Causing My face to Flush?” Healthline, October 15, 2015; http://www.healthline.com/health/skin-blushing-flushing, last accessed March 9, 2017.