What is Facial Flushing?
Facial Flushing is a condition where a person experiences an involuntary and temporary reddening of the skin, commonly of the face. A person can have flushing of the neck or chest along with face. Facial Flushing occurs as a result of dilatation of the blood vessels, which are present under the surface of the skin. People think that facial flushing is same as blushing, whereas the difference is that facial flushing usually has a more pronounced redness of the face when compared to blushing, which is milder.
In many individuals, facial flushing occurs as a result of normal response of the body to physical circumstances, such as hot temperatures, exercise or consumption of spicy foods or alcohol. Different emotional states, such as embarrassment, anger, sexual arousal can also cause facial flushing. Hormonal changes in women during menopausal transition and in pregnancy also cause facial flushing.
Facial Flushing can also be seen in conditions where the body is overheated, such as in heat exhaustion, fever or heat stroke. Facial Flushing can also be seen in inflammatory conditions and allergic reactions. In rare cases, flushing can be a symptom of carcinoid syndrome where the tumor produces hormones, which cause vascular changes and a characteristic flushing, which is the main feature of this disease. There are certain medications, such as niacin and medicines which are used to treat erectile dysfunction, which may also cause facial flushing.
Facial flushing occurring alone is rarely an indication of a serious condition and is commonly a normal response of the body to emotional or physical stress. In case the facial flushing is accompanied with symptoms, such as chest pain, fever or difficulty in breathing, then immediate medical attention should be sought. Medical care should also be immediately sought if there is persistent facial flushing or if it causes any concern.
What Can Cause Facial Flushing and Ways to Stop It?
- Facial Flushing Caused Due to Rosacea: Rosacea which is a chronic skin disorder can cause on and off facial flushing. The redness will fade when the area is pressed and will return immediately after the pressure is released as the blood circulates back into the area. As time goes on, patient can have pimples along with itchy skin and the blood vessels can become visible.
Ways to Stop Facial Flushing Caused Due to Rosacea: application of green-tinted makeup helps in concealing the redness. Application of over-the-counter anti-inflammatory lotion which contains licorice extract also helps. Low dose doxycycline may be prescribed if the redness persists to relieve inflammation. Anti-inflammatory creams such as Finacia or Metrogel can also be prescribed. Laser therapy is needed for visible blood vessels. Rosacea triggers should be avoided which include heat, sun, red wine, chili, cocoa and hard cheeses.
- Facial Flushing Caused Due to Contact Reactions: A person can have facial flushing as a result of certain ingredients present in skin-care products and cosmetics e.g. alpha hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide. These may cause contact dermatitis resulting in itchy or red complexion. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs as a result of a reaction of the immune system with any ingredient causing similar symptoms. The difference being that contact dermatitis occurs immediately and allergic dermatitis shows in a few days.
Ways to Stop Facial Flushing Caused Due to Contact Reaction: The cause of the contact irritant should be determined first. Once the offender is discovered then its use should be stopped and the redness should be treated with a topical steroid like hydrocortisone cream in order to stop facial flushing. Application of cold-water compresses also help in relieving swelling or burning. An allergist should be consulted to determine the exact cause of Facial Flushing due to contact reaction.
- Facial Flushing Caused Due to Adult Acne: Adult acne is experienced from the hormones which cause breakouts in adolescence and can also cause them to occur in adulthood. Physiological changes, such as pregnancy, menstruation and some oral contraceptive pills can also result in a breakout of pimples or acne. Adult individuals also tend to have pimples on the jaw line, cheeks and neck other than the T-zone region.
Ways to Stop Facial Flushing Caused Due to Adult Acne: Topical medication and oral antibiotics are prescribed for treating adult acne. Medications, such as birth control pills, Accutane, or spironolactone which is a hypertension medicine, can also be used off-label for treating acne which could be the cause of facial flushing.
- Facial Flushing Caused Due to Lupus: Lupus is indicated if the patient has redness present as a butterfly-shaped rash across the nose and cheeks. In such a case, patient should get tested for lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease and causes inflammation in different parts of the body. Other symptoms of this disease include low-grade fever, achiness and extreme fatigue.
Ways to Stop Facial Flushing Caused Due to Adult Acne: Lupus is treated with corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories, topical steroids, immunosuppressants and all these will help in alleviating the rash or the facial flushing.
- Facial Flushing Caused Due to Perimenopause: Some women can start having symptoms of menopause early, such as in mid-30s. These symptoms comprise of hot flashes resulting in facial redness or facial flushing.
Treatment: Placing a damp, cool cloth on the neck helps in relieving the flashes. Hormone replacement therapy can be considered if the flashes are severe.