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What are the Causes of Facial Flushing?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Facial flushing, or redness about the face, can be a normal response to physical or emotional changes; a reaction to certain foods, drinks, or medicines; or even a symptom of a medical disorder. Most people experience facial flushing at some point in their lives, and it is not normally a problem. For those who suffer from chronic facial flushing, cosmetics, medications, or even surgery may offer relief.

In some cases, facial redness is a symptom of a more serious condition. A butterfly-shaped facial rash sometimes afflicts those who suffer from lupus, an autoimmune disorder that causes joint pain and fatigue. The first symptoms of rosacea, a skin condition characterized by facial redness, pimples, and visible veins, usually include facial flushing. While lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods and extremes in temperature are suggested to rosacea sufferers to control symptoms, many eventually require the use of prescription drugs or laser surgery to address facial redness.

Many people blush, or turn red, when embarrassed or uncomfortable. Others experience facial flushing when experiencing a range of strong emotions, particularly sexual arousal or anger. The flushing is caused by a release of adrenaline, which triggers facial redness. Likewise, hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause can cause women to experience facial redness. Some medications and dietary supplements, such as those containing niacin, can cause temporary flushing in those who use them.

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Facial flushing is often a symptom of many types of food allergies and sensitivities. It is particularly common in those who are sensitive to monosodium glutamate (MSG), a popular food additive, or spicy foods such as chili peppers. Facial blood vessel dilation can also be caused by exercise, heat exposure, and alcohol consumption. In fact, alcohol can contribute significantly to facial flushing if consumed while a sufferer is eating triggering foods or using certain medications. A facial rash may develop in those who are sensitive to ingredients in skin care products or cosmetics.

Individuals who cannot identify the cause of their facial flushing may want to speak to a doctor about their concerns. A medical examination, including allergy testing, can either confirm or rule out allergies or reactions to medication. If rosacea or lupus is diagnosed, treatment can begin to help alleviate symptoms and address the condition. A doctor can also suggest remedies or ways to manage flushing so that it doesn't cause undue embarrassment or discomfort.

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