Behind the Blush: 12 Medical Reasons for Your Red Face


 Have you ever heard the expression “turn red with anger?” This expression is not just figurative. When you experience a heightened sense of emotion, such as rage or embarrassment, your face literally goes red.

The science behind the phenomena is actually simple. Try this simple experiment to understand why your skin goes red.

A Simple Experiment and a Practical Conclusion

right handFirstly, be careful while doing this experiment. At any point during the experiment, if you feel any discomfort, then stop immediately.

Let’s begin:

Tightly grip your left hand at the wrist with your right hand to restrict the blood flow to your palm. Maintain the grip until your left palm becomes pale. After that, release the grip quickly. You will feel an electric rush go through your palm and see the color change shortly to a reddish hue.

This observation implies that the amount of blood in the vessels of your palm caused the color change. When the blood flow is restricted, the palm appears pale. On the contrary, when you suddenly restore the blood flow, the palm appears flushed with red.

In conclusion, when blood vessels in your face carry more blood than usual, your face becomes reddish because of the extra blood. The extra blood is usually because various triggers can cause the blood vessels to dilate. This widening increases their capacity to carry blood, thereby causing the surrounding skin to appear reddish.

12 Medical Conditions for Your Red Face

Your face can turn red for a variety of reasons, such as emotional stress, spicy food and excessive alcohol consumption. Under such circumstances, you are under no serious danger; however, the embarrassment might be little hard to deal with.

But, a flushed face could also be a symptom of a serious underlying medical condition. You have to tell the harmful ones apart from the harmless ones. This article will take your through some serious medical conditions that cause your face to turn red.

1. Mid-Life Crisis: Menopausal Hot Flashes

womenA hot flash is a common symptom of the menopausal transition. Many women go through it. During a hot flash, you will experience the following:

  • A warm sensation spreading rapidly across your upper body and face.
  • Flushed skin with red and blotchy appearance.
  • Increase in pulse rate.
  • Unnatural sweating, particularly in the upper body.
  • Feeling cold when the hot flash subsides.

Many women have hot flashes for one to two years after their last menstrual period. The frequency and length of a hot flash varies greatly. The severity of the symptoms decreases gradually and eventually stops.

Usually, the following lifestyle changes are enough to manage hot flashes:

  • Remain Cool: Use an air conditioner or a fan to make sure you don’t feel warm.
  • Eat Mindfully: Spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol can trigger a hot flash. Therefore, be aware of your threshold and stay within your limit.
  • Unwind: Stress reducing techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing and yoga, will help you find relief from hot flashes.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking increases the frequency of hot flashes; thus, if you avoid smoking, you will decrease your hot flashes.
  • Maintain Healthy Weight: If you are overweight or obese, gradually reduce your weight to a healthy level. This will definitely ease those hot flash symptoms.

However, if your hot flashes affect your daily life, despite making the above changes, see a doctor.

2. Mysterious Maladies: Understanding Rosacea

women of middle ageThe term,“rosacea,” literally means rose-colored. Rosacea is a common skin disorder in which your face becomes reddish. Light-skinned women of middle age are most prone to this disorder. Symptoms of rosacea are as follows:

  • Small blood vessels on your cheeks and nose flare up and become visible.
  • The central portion of your face remains persistently red.
  • Acne-like bumps begin to develop on your skin.
  • Dryness irritates your eyes and causes it to inflame.
  • The skin at the tip of your nose begins to thicken.

Rosacea can surface at any time, display the symptoms for weeks to months, suddenly disappear, and return without a warning. If left untreated, your rosacea symptoms worsen with time. Although there is no cure for rosacea, you can soothe the inconveniences and discomfort the symptoms cause. Here are a few ways you can manage your rosacea condition:

  • Wear Sunscreen: Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 of more. This keeps your skin protected from the harsh rays of the sun. Reapply whenever you perspire profusely or go swimming to maintain the protection.
  • Use a Scarf or Hat: Keep your face covered and protected while stepping out. Stay in the shade if at all possible or use a sun umbrella.
  • Avoid Contact: Do not rub or touch your facial skin repeatedly. This causes itching and irritation.
  • Apply Gentle Cleansers: Clean you face with mild cleansers made for sensitive skin.
  • Avoid Skin Irritants: Refrain from using cosmetics that contain skin irritants, such as alcohol and other harsh chemicals.

Although rosacea is not a serious medical condition, it is a psychological one. After all, your face is the most exposed part of your skin. Therefore, if the measures mentioned above are not enough, consider seeing a dermatologist for a more intensive treatment.

3. Hyperthyroidism: Your Thyroid Gland in Overdrive

your heart rateHyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland overproduces the hormone thyroxine. Thyroxine regulates growth and development of your body. Therefore, a spike in thyroxine levels causes increase in your metabolic rate.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are as follows:

  • A sudden weight loss despite your food habits remaining the same.
  • Increase in your heart rate.
  • A bigger appetite.
  • Feeling nervous, anxious or irritable.
  • Trembling of your hands and fingers.
  • Sweating profusely and unnaturally.
  • Flushing of your skin.

Hyperthyroidism mostly results from medical conditions, such as Graves’ disease or thyroiditis, which increase the level of thyroxine in your bloodstream. You must manage the symptoms of hyperthyroidism with medical attention and home treatments. Things you can do at home to decrease your discomfort are as follows:

  • Decrease Stress: Put a structure in place that allows you to function without getting nervous or anxious.
  • Stay Away From Caffeine: Caffeine can aggravate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. That’s why it is best that you avoid it.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can worsen your condition if your hyperthyroidism is a result of Graves’ disease.

Redness of facial skin is not an obvious symptom of hyperthyroidism. However, if you observe other symptoms, such as an increase in appetite or rapid decrease in weight, along with facial redness, then you should see a doctor or an endocrinologist for further treatment.

4. Panic Disorder: Quelling Your Intense Fears

PanicA panic attack is a sudden onset of intense fear in the absence of any real danger. Most people go through life with at most two panic attacks. However, some people suffer from recurrent panic attacks. In such cases, the person suffers from panic disorder.

Panic attacks come without warning. They can occur anywhere and at any time. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms of a panic attack. The symptoms are as follows:

  • A sense of impending doom or danger.
  • A fear of death and loss of control accompany the above feeling.
  • Heart rate and perspiration increases.
  • Your body may tremble and shake involuntarily.
  • Hot flashes, along with chills and shortness of breath, causing intense discomfort.
  • Headaches, chest pains and abdominal cramps.

If you are having a panic attack, see a doctor as soon as possible. This is because panic attacks share many symptoms in common with heart attacks.

The following factors increase your risks of having a panic attack:

  • Family history of anxiety or depression.
  • Acute stress or a traumatic event.
  • Major changes in your life.
  • Smoking or excessive caffeine intake.
  • History of physical or sexual abuse.

Panic attacks are not dangerous, but they are extremely uncomfortable. If not treated early, the attacks worsen as they progress. Living in the fear of the next episode can be paralyzing. This leads many complications ranging from developing phobias to having suicidal thoughts.

Fortunately, with proper therapy and timely medical intervention, you can get a lot of relief from panic attacks.

5. Scarlet Fever: When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Scarlet fever is a contagious bacterial disease that affects children more than it affects adults. During the course of the disease, the bacteria releases toxins that cause the skin to develop red rashes. Since high temperature, along with the red rashes, is one of the symptoms, the disease gets the name scarlet fever.

Other symptoms of the disease are as follows:

  • Victim develops red lines along the skin folds at the elbow, neck, armpits, and knees.
  • Face may become red and flushed.
  • The tongue may look red and bumpy.
  • Sore throat and difficulty swallowing food.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Constant headaches.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck.

If you have a fever above 102°F, sore throat and rashes, see a doctor immediately. If left untreated, this condition can worsen to rheumatic fever, which can harm your vital organs.

Since this disease spreads from person to person via droplets expelled while sneezing or coughing, the best way to avoid the disease is to stay away from someone who has it.

Encourage the person suffering from scarlet fever to cover their mouth while sneezing and not sharing utensils, such as spoons, glasses or plates. The disease lasts for two to three weeks and the treatment is often a course of antibiotics. Makes sure you finish the course because failure to do so leads to complications.

6. MSG Sensitivity: When a Spice Isn’t So Nice

Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats may contain a flavor enhancer called monosodium glutamate (MSG). If the food contains MSG, the law requires that the label mention the same.

In recent years, a few people reported the following symptoms after eating in a Chinese restaurant:

  • Headache and chest pain.
  • Flushing, nausea and general weakness.
  • Facial pressure and numbness.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Heart palpitations.

These symptoms, known as the MSG symptom complex, disappear in a while and don’t require treatment. However, you can take an analgesic for the headache and drink a lot of water to flush the MSG out of your system. Nevertheless, if the symptoms persist, see a doctorimmediately.

7. Autonomic Dysreflexia

brainYour brain controls many of your body’s functions, such as heart rate, breathing and body temperature, without your conscious control. However, this involuntary mechanism at times overreacts to external stimuli. This hyperactivity, called autonomic dysreflexia (AD), is extremely dangerous because it can lead to the following potentially fatal conditions, such as strokes, retinal hemorrhage, cardiac arrest and pulmonary edema.

Symptoms of AD include the following:

  • Anxiety, confusion, lightheadedness and dizziness.
  • Pounding headache and racing heartbeat.
  • Unnatural increase in sweating and high blood pressure.
  • Flushing of your skin.
  • Nasal congestion and pupil dilation.

If you observe any of the above symptoms call for immediate medical attention. Treatment of AD revolves around the stimuli that triggered the attack. If you are a victim of AD, then work with your doctor to eliminate or minimize your exposure to triggers. Correct identification of the triggers and appropriate treatment keeps the risks in check.

8. Cluster Headaches: More Than Your Simple Migraine

HeadachesCluster headaches are extremely discomforting and painful headaches that occur in cycles called clusters. One cluster may consist of one headache a day followed by many days of a headache-free period, or one cluster may consist of several headaches per day with pauses of headache-free periods in between.

Each headache within a cluster lasts for several hours with intense pain lasting between half an hour and two hours.

Cluster headaches typically occur between adolescence and middle age. Cluster headaches, unlike regular headaches, affect only one side of your face. The pain begins behind or around one of your eyes, but may spread to your nose, ears, teeth and neck along the same side.

The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown; however, doctors theorize that abnormalities in a small part of the brain, called the hypothalamus, trigger these headaches. The pain, in particular, is a result of pressure exerted on the trigeminal nerve by dilated blood vessels. Symptoms of cluster headaches, in addition to the pain, are as follows:

  • Your eyes become more sensitive to light and begin to droop.
  • Facial redness of flushing occurs.
  • You feel nauseous and agitated.
  • Inflammation can occur under youraffected eye and nose.
  • Possible tearing from your affected eye.

Consuming alcohol excessivelySome environmental and lifestyle choices increase your risks of getting cluster headaches. These factors include the following:

  • Consuming alcohol excessively.
  • Travelling to high altitudes.
  • Engaging in strenuous activities.
  • Smoking heavily.
  • Abusing cocaine.
  • Living in hot weather conditions.
  • Taking hot baths.
  • Eating food containing nitrate preservatives.

There is no cure for cluster headaches. Over a period, the frequency and intensity of the headaches decrease. However, analgesics can help you manage the pain during the clusters.

9. Agoraphobia: Panic in Big Places and Small Spaces

public transportationAgoraphobia is an irrational fear of open places, such as a store, parking lot and public transportation. The exact cause of agoraphobia is yet to be determined. However, these are some of the contributing factors:

  • Feeling of severe dejection.
  • Other phobias and anxiety disorders.
  • A history of physical or sexual abuse
  • Substance abuse issues.
  • Your family history.

The symptoms of an agoraphobia attack are similar to panic attacks. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Pain in your chest.
  • Racing heart and shortness of breath.
  • Nausea and dizziness.
  • Choking and sweating.
  • Numbness and hot flashes.
  • Diarrhea and upset stomach.

doctorPreventing agoraphobia is not possible; however, the timely treatment of the panic attacks resulting from agoraphobia helps. If you suspect the source of these attacks is agoraphobia, see treatment immediately. Through medications and physcotherapy, doctors can improve your condition over a period.

The following lifestyle changes can also bring relief:

  • Exercise three to four times a week to increase the production of “feel good” hormones, such as serotonin.
  • Eat a healthy diet to keep your body fit and disease free.
  • Practice meditation to keep yourself calm during the onset of panic attacks.

This condition requires ongoing treatment, but for the most part, you can keep it under control with the help of necessary medical guidance.

10. Anaphylaxis: Your Allergies in Overdrive

AnaphylaxisYour body may be hypersensitive to certain allergens. In some cases, exposure to these allergens causes you to have a violent reaction. This reaction at times may be severe, sometimes even life-threatening. Such cases, called anaphylaxis, require you seek immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis are as follows:

  • Flushed skin and feelings of warmth.
  • Troubled breathing or a choking feeling.
  • Dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
  • Weak, but rapid pulse.

Common anaphylaxis triggers include the following:

  • Certain medicines.
  • Foods, particularly nuts.
  • Insect bites or stings.

People with a family history of anaphylaxis or asthma are prone to such episodes. If left untreated, an anaphylactic shock can cause your heart to stop beating or your lungs to stop breathing.

The first cause of action, while treating a person in anaphylactic shock, is an epinephrine injection. This is because epinephrine reduces your body’s reactions to the allergen and calms the symptoms. Thereafter, you can work with your doctor to identify the allergen and create an emergency plan to handle situation when you encounterthe allergen.

If you are actively at risk of getting an anaphylactic attack, inform people you’re with regularly about your condition. Thereafter, take them through an emergency attack scenario. Also, seek your doctor’s advice on carrying an auto injector, a device that administers a dose of epinephrine in your system.

11. Contact Dermatitis: A Touching Problem

Certain common substances, such as soap, jewelry, fragrances, metals and cosmetics, can cause a red rash when they come in contact with your skin. This condition, called contact dermatitis, isn’t dangerous, but it can be uncomfortable.

Signs of contact dermatitis are as follows:

  • Red rash and bumps on your skin.
  • Severe itching and swelling.
  • Dry, cracked and scaly skin
  • Blisters and oozing from your skin.

You should see a doctor if the symptoms distract you from your daily routine. Also, consider seeking medical help if the rashes spread quickly, cause substantial pain, or are located near sensitive areas.

To treat contact dermatitis successfully, you need to identify and avoid the causes. However, if you are recovering from a dermatitis spell, then you can try the following measures to lessen your discomfort:

  • Apply an anti-itch cream to the affected area.
  • Take over the counter drugs that lessen the itching.
  • Use a moist cloth to administer a cool and wet compress.
  • Soak the affected area in a cold bath.
  • Wear smooth textured clothing.
  • Moisturize the rashes regularly.

Recognizing triggers, and then taking the necessary preventive measures is the best way to beat contact dermatitis.

12. Cellulitis: When Bacteria Attack

Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection that can be potentially dangerous. The surface of your skin is home to many kinds of bacteria. These microorganisms can enter your skin through cracks. When this happens, if your immune system is weak, you’re likely to develop cellulitis.

If left untreated, the infection can spread rapidly and lead to complications. Symptoms of cellulitis are as follows:

  • Redness in area of skin that tends to enlarge.
  • Pain, Inflammation and tenderness.
  • Red spots and oozing blisters.

People who have a weak immune system, such as diabetics, or an existing skin conditions, such as eczema, are at increased risk of cellulitis. However, if you manage your wounds properly, you can completely avoid getting cellulitis. Here’s how you can properly tend to your wounds:

  • Wash you wound every day with a mild soap and warm, not hot, water.
  • Apply creams or ointments on your wounds.
  • Keep your wound covered with a bandage.
  • Watch for signs of infection.

see a doctorSome medical conditions that cause your face to go red are harmless, while others are life-threatening. Therefore, if you see your face turn red repeatedly, the first thing you should do is see a doctor.

If your face turns red and you simultaneously display other symptoms, such as shortness of breath and chest pain, see a doctor immediately, or get to the emergency room. Awareness is the key word here. In most situations, people don’t make the right decision because they don’t know have the necessary knowledge to make that call. Fortunately, you are not one of them.

Keep yourself safe and others near you safe by being mindful or any unusual symptoms. It is far better to be safe, not sorry, so be sure to consult your doctor if you are experiencing unusual redness.



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