What are the symptoms?
Blushing is when your face, ears, neck and, occasionally, your upper chest, becomes red in colour. The redness is sometimes accompanied by the area feeling very hot. Blushing is sometimes referred to as 'flushing' by health professionals.
Your skin contains a network of small blood vessels which have tiny muscles inside the walls. Usually, these muscles are partly squeezed, or contracted. Extreme contraction causes the blood vessels to close down so that less blood passes through them.
If the blood cannot flow easily, the skin becomes pale and white. When the muscles are completely relaxed, the blood vessels widen, or dilate. This allows more blood to pass through the skin which makes it red.
Blushing affects both men and women, but is more common in teenagers due to anxiety, feeling nervous, or hormonal activity.
Blushing is usually a natural response to emotions, such as anger, guilt and embarrassment.
Other common causes of blushing include:
eating hot, or spicy, foods,
drinking hot drinks,
a high temperature, or fever of 38C (100.4F), or above,
sudden hot, or cold, temperatures,
exercise, due to an increase in body temperature, and
monosodium glutamate, which is a chemical that is sometimes added to food to improve flavour.
Certain medical conditions.
Some people have a fear, or phobia, about blushing. The medical name for this is erythrophobia and it is linked to social phobia.
Social phobias may occur as a result of an anxious, upsetting or intense experience in a social situation. Or, it may be that your social confidence did not have the chance to fully develop past the normal stage of shyness as a young child.
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