While several skin conditions are more severe, skin blushing or flushing is a common irritation that causes sudden redness or discoloration in the face or upper body. Skin blushing, or flushing, is rarely a cause for concern. That said, increased frequency of skin blushing can be a sign of a more serious underlying skin condition (1). In this article, we share the causes of skin blushing, the risks associated with skin blushing, treatment options available to you, ways to prevent blushing, and when to contact your doctor.
What is Skin Blushing or Flushing?
Skin blushing, or flushing, is categorized by redness or discoloration in the face or upper body as a result of increased blood flow. Blood vessels grow to compensate for the increase in blood flow to the face, and it is this enlargening that makes the skin appear flushed.
Individuals with lighter skin tones will notice reddening of the face or upper body, and the term blushing is commonly used to describe the visible redness that these individuals experience. Those with darker skin tones will notice discoloration or darkening of areas affected by blushing/flushing.
Skin blushing is also a common response to varying states of emotional wellbeing. Stress, anxiety, anger, and other psychological reactions to social situations trigger an increase in blood flow responsible for those rosy cheeks. However, it is important to be aware that underlying skin conditions can also contribute to skin blushing/flushing. These conditions may be more severe than the usual symptoms or triggers of skin blushing/flushing, so it is important to consult your health practitioner if you experience blushing, or flushing more frequently.
What are the Common Causes of Skin Blushing/Flushing?
According to the National Health Service (NHS), there are a variety of health conditions that can contribute to skin blushing or flushing, which include (2):
During menopause, hormone production in the ovaries decreases, and menstrual periods stop altogether. The various uncomfortable symptoms of menopause are linked to the reduced production of estrogen and progesterone.
Individuals that suffer from menopause typically experience the following symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Mood swings
- Decreased libido
When it comes to flushed skin, hot flashes are the most common contributor to the appearance of redness in the face or upper body. The frequency of hot flashes can cause regular experiences with flushing, and it is noted in a 2018 scientific review that 50 to 85% of women over the age of 45 suffered from frequent hot flashes and subsequent redness in the face or skin discoloration (3). Considering that hot flashes can last up to 14 years after menopause, many women choose to take natural supplements to ease these challenging symptoms (4). Read about hot flash tablets for more information.
Cushing Syndrome is a condition that individuals experience when high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, are found in the blood (5). The increase in cortisol production is typically responsible for Cushing Syndrome and can affect the body in a variety of uncomfortable or concerning ways. Symptoms of Cushing Syndrome include:
- Glucose intolerance
- High blood pressure
As a contributor to acne, Cushing Syndrome plays a clear role in skin health. In less severe cases, individuals that suffer from Cushing Syndrome will experience redness or discoloration in the face.
Another common contributor to skin blushing/flushing is cluster headaches. This is particularly notable as cluster headaches are usually caused by high levels of stress or anxiety – some common emotional states that are responsible for the development of flushed skin. According to the National Organization of Rare Disorders (NORD), cluster headaches are most prominent in the evening and are categorized by severe piercing pain on one side of the head (6). The link between headaches and stress is likely a common cause of skin blushing, or flushing.
Several other symptoms of cluster headaches include:
- Eye redness
- Light sensitivity
- Swelling of the face
- Stuffy nose
In instances when the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormone, individuals can suffer from hyperthyroidism. The condition typically raises the metabolic rate to extreme levels, and is usually a result of the following underlying health conditions:
- Graves’ disease
- Prescription medication
- Excessive levels of iodine
- Thyroid inflammation
It is noted by the AAD that hyperthyroidism is often responsible for skin blushing/flushing (7). This link is reported to be a result of increased blood pressure from hyperthyroidism that contributes to greater blood flow to the face or upper body.
Other Causes of Skin Blushing/Flushing
Additional underlying causes of skin blushing/flushing also could include:
- Certain types of medication
- Emotional triggers
- Niacin overdose
- Autonomic dysreflexia
- Yellow fever
- Scarlet fever
- Fifth disease
The Risks of Leaving Skin Untreated
It is important that you note your frequency of skin blushing/flushing, as prominent experiences with the minor condition can be a sign of more serious underlying health issues. Leaving the skin untreated can contribute to the development of these issues, whether they be linked to stress, weight gain, or any other medical condition.
Treatment Options for Skin Blushing/Flushing
The best way to treat flushing is to treat the underlying skin conditions that contribute to the redness of the skin or skin discoloration. In most cases, you will work with your general health practitioner to select a medication that resolves underlying skin conditions contributing to these symptoms.
If you experience high stress and anxiety, a beta-blocker can help manage experiences of skin blushing from increased stress levels. Clonidine is another common treatment medication that regulates chemical production in the body responsible for the dilation and constriction of blood vessels (8).
Besides these medications, individuals can also turn to laser treatment or Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS) surgery in more severe cases of skin blushing/flushing (9).
Ways to Prevent Skin Blushing/Flushing
The best ways to prevent skin blushing/flushing include consuming quality health supplements that contain formulas that combat common causes of the skin condition. As increased blood flow is the primary contributor to symptoms of skin blushing, a supplement that works to regulate blood flow should prevent experiences with the condition.
Bloodsyl™ by Approved Science® is a well-reviewed, clinically proven supplement that maintains balanced blood pressure. The combination of Hawthorn and Mag-Sci™ promotes vasodilation, which enables healthy blood flow by relaxing constricted blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Hawthorn and Mag-Sci™ are also a well researched combination used to reduce anxiety, one of the common triggers behind flushed skin.
The addition of this supplement with a carefully considered skincare routine may be the best preventative measure against flushed skin.
When to Contact Your Doctor
While skin blushing/flushing is often a minor condition with little cause for concern, you should contact your health professional if you experience the condition frequently as it can be linked to more serious underlying health conditions. Based on advice from a 2016 review, doctors consider one’s unique symptoms of skin blushing to determine the root cause of the condition (10). They can then determine the best method to reduce each individual’s severity of flushed skin.
If you ever experience skin blushing or flushing, categorized by redness of the face or skin discoloration in the upper body, then be sure to assess how often you experience it. In most cases, occasional flushing is normal but in cases where you frequently suffer from skin flushing, then be sure to contact your health practitioner to determine the root cause of the condition.