A flushed face is described as the reddening and warmth of the face including the neck and the upper chest. There is a variety of reason why people experience flushing of the face and we are going to tackle them in this article. A flushed face is a typical reaction to stress, anger, anxiety, or embarrassment. However, it can also indicate an underlying medical condition.
Flushed face causes secondary to the emotional and physical state
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- Blushing – Blushing makes the face, especially the cheek appears red. People blush for different reasons such as when anxious, embarrassed, or angry. In situations like these, the body releases hormones like adrenaline causing the blood vessels to temporarily dilate. As a result, the skin reddens, especially the face.
- Heat – When it’s too hot, the blood vessels widen in an attempt to cool down the body. This causes the skin to look red, especially the facial areas.
- Eating spicy foods – “Flushed face after eating” Spicy foods, especially when taken in a large amount causes your face and neck to turn red. The reason is that spicy foods increases the body’s temperature. It also increase the flow of blood causing your face to turn red. Examples of spicy foods are pepper, paprika, and wasabi. (1, 2, 3, 4, and 5)
Flushed face as a result of medical/health conditions
- Endocrine disorders – The endocrine system contains glands responsible for producing hormones that serve as chemical messengers sending information to various parts of the body. Such hormones travel to the bloodstream and regulate the functions of the body. The body’s internal communication is disrupted if there are too little or too many hormones. Endocrine disorders cause hormonal imbalance leading to a variety of symptoms like flushing of the face.
- Fifth disease – It is a mild rash illness caused by a virus and commonly affects children. It is also called a slapped cheek because of the severe redness of the face. Other symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, low fever, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.
- Scarlet fever – It occurs right after a strep throat infection. Clinical manifestations include redness of the skin not only in the face but all over the body and bright red tongue. The rash consists of tiny bumps which feel like sandpaper.
- Carcinoid syndrome – it is an extremely rare condition causing the face and the chest to turn red. About 10% of people with carcinoid tumor experience carcinoid syndrome. Aside from flushing of the face, the patient can also experience stomachache, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.
- Thyroid problems – people with thyroid-related conditions tend to have a flushed face because of hormonal imbalances.
- Menopause – every woman has to go through menopause; a time when a woman permanently stops having a menstrual period. Clinical manifestations of menopause include hot flashes; a sudden intense feeling of heat spread throughout the body.
- Rosacea – It is a skin condition characterized by redness of the face, which last longer than usual. As the condition progresses, the redness of the face tends to not go away.
- Lupus – It is an autoimmune disorder that causes the skin to swell and turn red. One of the cardinal signs of lupus is the appearance of butterfly-rash on the face. There is also generalized swelling and redness on the face. Such a condition should be treated and managed properly so as to prevent further complications. (2, 3, 6, 7, and 8)
What to keep in mind?
A flushed face does not always mean a serious condition. One thing is for sure though, having a flushed face is not pleasing to the eyes, especially if the redness of the face is severe. Fortunately, there are things you can do to significantly prevent flushing of the face. These are the following:
- Make sure you avoid extreme temperature, especially when the sun is shining brightly. If you have to go out under the heat of the sun, you have to make sure you wear appropriate clothing.
- Make it a habit to drink plenty of water so as to regulate your body temperature and prevent dehydration.
- Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. Some people are prone to redness if they take alcoholic drinks, especially in large volume.
- Apply various relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and mindfulness, especially when under a great deal of stress.
- If the flushing of the face is caused by an underlying medical condition, such a condition should be treated as that is the only way to prevent a flushed face.
- Limit your intake of foods containing niacin as consuming too much niacin cause flushing of the face. (1, 3, 7, 9, and 10)
Is it necessary to treat/address a flushed face?
A flushed face is usually not a concern as most of the episodes of a flushed face is caused by an emotional and physical response to stimuli or situation. However, there are instances wherein flushing of the face can be attributed to underlying medical conditions. Which is why it is of utmost importance to address flushing of the face along with other symptoms so as to find out if it is nothing to worry about or it is something that needs serious medical attention. (2, 4, 6, and 8)
When should you see your doctor?
You need to contact your doctor right away if you notice or experience the following:
- The redness of the face gets frequent or worse.
- If the redness of the face does not seem to be related to emotional response, heat, or exercise.
- If the redness of the face occurs with other alarming symptoms such as difficulty breathing and diarrhea. (3, 6, 7, and 9)
- Read more about sun poisoning.