Blushing is a fairly normal human reaction to embarrassing or stressful situations. It may also occur during menopause, as a result of medications or alcohol usage, or due to an underlying medical condition. When blushing is severe enough that you avoid social situations, you may be developing a social phobia and it’s probably time to see a doctor.
Your doctor should first rule out any physical conditions that are causing your face to redden.
Rosacea is a relatively common condition in middle-aged and fair-skinned women. It causes swelling of blood vessels, which leads to redness and flushing.
Certain medications may also cause flushing such as Niacin or antihistamines. Your doctor may be able to recommend alternative medications or supplements that don’t cause blushing.
In rare cases, blushing can be caused by something called carcinoid syndrome, or tumours of the enterochromaffin cells which causes flushing of the face. If you have carcinoid syndrome, the flushing is a secondary symptom and if you treat the tumours, the flushing should disappear.
Flushing that is not caused by any medical condition is likely psychological in nature.
Various forms of anxiety can cause severe redness of the face – this in turn leads to a cyclical situation where the embarrassment caused by your blushing disorder actually increases your feelings of social anxiety. The emotional turmoil of the condition then causes sufferers to isolate themselves even more from friends and family. They may avoid unnecessary social outings, dating, and shopping. They will opt for a career that does not require much human contact. Blushing that causes so much stress indirectly strains relationships, stifles career goals and prevents someone from enjoying day-to-day activities.
When blushing gets to the point where it is socially disabling, it’s definitely time to seek help from a doctor or counsellor. If some form of anxiety is causing you to blush, it might be beneficial to work with a counsellor or therapist to uncover the underling reasons behind your anxiety.
There are also some things you can do at home and in your day to day life to help combat your fear of blushing. Try some of the following techniques:
The more anxious you get, the worse the blushing will be. When you feel yourself start to feel anxious, take some deep breaths and visualise yourself in your most relaxed state (perhaps it’s on a hammock in Bali!).
2. Accept it
Rather than feeling embarrassed about your blushing, try to acknowledge it as something unique about yourself and move on. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel embarrassed, and nobody else cares as much about your redness as you do. Trying laughing about it with friends.
3. Learn from a yogi
Yoga or meditation teaches you how to relax. It may also improve your self-esteem.
4. Talk to your doctor about surgical alternatives
If your blushing is severely disabling, there may be medical options you can take which help reduces the body’s physiological responses to fear and arousal.
You don’t have to go through life letting your blushing control your every move. If your blushing disables you from daily activities and social interactions, it’s time to see a doctor or anxiety counsellor and get help. There are plenty of options to treat this condition and get the emotional support you need to beat it.
About the Author
Joanna Fishman is the director of Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney, one of Sydney’s leading networks of counsellors, psychologists and relationships therapists and a primary contributor to her organisation’s website. Associated Counsellors services the Greater Sydney area with over 10 locations including the CBD, North Shore, Central Coast and Wollongong and can help with a broad range of issues including depression, anxiety, anger and relationship issues.