Facial flushing can be embarrassing, as people will often mistake it for an emotional response. Flushing can be the result of many different things, and understanding what might be triggering it can help you to prevent the problem from occurring. 

Q: What causes facial flushing?

A: When your body’s core overheats, the hypothalamus region of your brain sends a message to your blood vessels to dilate. During those times, warm blood moves from the internal organs to the blood vessels in the skin’s surface. This reaction, called vasodilation, causes your skin to flush.

Q: What is facial flushing?

A:  Facial flushing is a sudden reddening of the face. The redness may affect the neck, or upper chest and is often associated with a sense of warmth, sweating or mild itching. It’s a normal bodily response to an intense emotion, such as embarrassed or anger, but it may also be associated with certain medical conditions.

Embarrassment, anger or stress can cause a release of adrenaline – increasing the heart rate. In turn, that means that more blood travels to the face and more of it will remain there, creating the impression of a red face. 

Rosacea is a medical condition that causes redness in the face and sometime pimples to form. It typically has a deeper red hue than that caused by flushing and the color does not fade. If you think that you are affected by rosacea, you should see a dermatologist for assessment and treatment. 

Acne can be the cause of a flushed face. In some cases, as clusters of spots filled with blood can make whole areas look red.

A rash can be the result of an allergy and is an immune response. If you have recently begun using a new face cream, shampoo or other product, or if you have eaten something that you do not normally eat, any of these things could explain the cause of an allergic reaction. Try taking them out of your diet/regime and see if the rash goes away. Spicy foods are commonly known to cause facial flushing. 

Alcohol and some medications can cause flushing as a reaction and the severity will depend on the individual. 

Body heat, whether caused by external temperatures or from exercise will cause flushing. Exercise of course gets your blood pumping around your body and that means it travels to your face too, and at the same time it also causes your internal body temperature to rise more than it normally would which additionally causes flushing. 

Poor circulation can cause blood to collect in a range of places and not flow as effectively as it should and this can also lead to facial flushing. 

Q: How is facial flushing treated?

A: The treatment of facial flushing depends on the underlying cause.

Dr. Oswald Lightsey Mikell, certified by the American Board of Dermatology and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, is the owner of Dermatology Associates of the Lowcountry.