Skin blushing or flushing is a sudden reddening of the face, neck, or upper chest due to increased blood flow.
Blushing is a normal body response that may occur when you are embarrassed, angry, excited, or experiencing another strong emotion.
Flushing of the face may be associated with certain medical conditions, such as:
- High fever
- Rosacea (a chronic skin problem)
- Carcinoid syndrome (group of symptoms associated with carcinoid tumors, which are tumors of the small intestine, colon, appendix, and bronchial tubes in the lungs)
Other causes include:
- Alcohol use
- Certain medicines used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol
- Extreme emotions
- Hot or spicy foods
- Rapid changes in temperature or heat exposure
Try to avoid the things that cause your blushing. For example, you may need to avoid hot drinks, spicy foods, extreme temperatures, or bright sunlight.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have persistent flushing, particularly if you have other symptoms (such as diarrhea).
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The provider will perform a physical exam and may ask about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- Does the flushing affect the whole body or just the face?
- Do you have hot flashes?
- How often do you have flushing or blushing?
- Are episodes getting worse or more frequent?
- Is it worse after you drink alcohol?
- What other symptoms do you have? For example, do you have diarrhea, wheezing, hives, or difficulty breathing?
- Does it happen when you eat certain foods or exercise?
Treatment depends on the cause of your blushing or flushing. Your provider may recommend that you avoid things that trigger the condition.
Blushing; Flushing; Red face
Habif TP. Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 7.
James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Erythema and urticaria. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 7.
Review Date 4/16/2019
Updated by: Michael Lehrer, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.