Health
Fact-checked

At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

Why do Some People Blush?

Blushing is a natural response triggered by emotions like embarrassment or excitement, causing blood vessels to widen and flush the cheeks with color. It's a universal human experience, yet it varies in intensity. Ever wondered what's happening beneath the skin? Dive into the fascinating science of blushing with vivid images that bring this involuntary reaction to life. Ready to explore more?
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Although Charles Darwin once dubbed blushing "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions,” scientists have yet to figure out what exactly causes some people to blush.

While blushing is often confused with flushing, the two problems have very distinct differences. Flushing generally extends over more of the face and onto the neck and upper chest. It also typically has an identifiable physical cause, such as rosacea, menopause, carcinoioid syndrome, or a negative reaction to certain types of prescription medications. In comparison, blushing is limited to the cheeks and triggered by embarrassment or anxiety.

Blushing is often triggered by embarrassment.
Blushing is often triggered by embarrassment.

From a physiological standpoint, blushing occurs in the face because, per square millimeter, facial skin has more capillary loops, as well as more vessels per unit volume than other parts of the body. Also, the cheeks' blood vessels tend to have a wider diameter and are closer to the surface of the skin. The fluid in the tissue of the cheeks don't tend to obscure the blood vessels as much as in other parts of the body. When the body is faced with stress, the “fight or flight” responses kicks in and releases the extra adrenaline that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system to cause facial blushing.

Charles Darwin called blushing "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions".
Charles Darwin called blushing "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions".

Many different types of people experience problems with blushing, but the condition is more apparent on those with very pale complexions. Although women do tend to blush more often than men, they are also better at covering up their problem with skillful makeup application. Statistically, teenagers blush more often than adults, but scientists aren’t certain if this is caused by the hormonal changes of puberty or a lack of appropriate coping mechanisms for stressful situations.

Blushing is more obvious in those who have a pale complexion.
Blushing is more obvious in those who have a pale complexion.

While many people blush at some point in their lives, the condition can cause serious lifestyle problems for certain individuals. People who blush on a regular basis may become so embarrassed by their problem that they avoid potential triggers such as meeting new people, talking in front of large groups, or trying new activities. People who modify their daily activities based on a fear of blushing are said to suffer from erythrophobia—a term which literally means "fear of redness." People with erythrophobia will experience symptoms such as dry mouth, nausea, breathlessness, dizziness, heart palpitations, or excessive sweating when faced with a situation that has caused them to blush profusely in the past. Since erythrophobia is linked to social anxiety disorder, the condition is typically treated in much the same way.

Blushing is often confused with the flushing caused by side effects of prescription drugs.
Blushing is often confused with the flushing caused by side effects of prescription drugs.

Some people even suffer from a disorder known as idiopathic craniofacial erythema, which causes them to blush with little or no provocation. This condition is generally treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, although more extreme cases can be sometimes helped by a surgical procedure called Endoscopic Transthoracic Sympathicotomy, in which certain portions of the sympathetic nerve trunk are burned, removed, severed, or clamped to prevent the blush reflex.

Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the TheHealthBoard team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

Learn more...
Dana Hinders
Dana Hinders

Dana holds a B.A. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. She has loved being part of the TheHealthBoard team ever since discovering the joys of freelance writing after her son was born. Dana also hones her writing skills by contributing articles to various blogs, as well as creating sales copy and content for e-courses.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discussion Comments

anon169096

It definitely has to do with puberty. I was in plenty of embarrassing situations but when seventh grade (and my period) came around- Bam! I was blushing like crazy. I really hope it gets better later in my teens.

BrickBack

I know that many people blush when they are embarrassed.

But not all of the reasons have to be negative. Sometimes this can occur when a shy person receives a compliment.

This can make the person feel uncomfortable because of the obvious flushed complexion and they are uncomfortable being the center of attention.

Becoming more comfortable in social situations can really make this tendency occur considerably less.

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Blushing is often triggered by embarrassment.
      By: K.- P. Adler
      Blushing is often triggered by embarrassment.
    • Charles Darwin called blushing "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions".
      By: nickolae
      Charles Darwin called blushing "the most peculiar and most human of all expressions".
    • Blushing is more obvious in those who have a pale complexion.
      By: Aleksandar Mijatovic
      Blushing is more obvious in those who have a pale complexion.
    • Blushing is often confused with the flushing caused by side effects of prescription drugs.
      By: beeboys
      Blushing is often confused with the flushing caused by side effects of prescription drugs.
    • People who suffer from erythrophobia sometimes experience dizziness and heart palpitations.
      By: elizalebedewa
      People who suffer from erythrophobia sometimes experience dizziness and heart palpitations.
    • People with erythrophobia may experience heart palpitations when faced with a situation that has caused them to blush profusely in the past.
      By: Marin Conic
      People with erythrophobia may experience heart palpitations when faced with a situation that has caused them to blush profusely in the past.
    • Flushing is distinguished from blushing because the former usually extends onto the neck and chest, not just causing redness on one's face.
      By: oocoskun
      Flushing is distinguished from blushing because the former usually extends onto the neck and chest, not just causing redness on one's face.
    • Some individuals may blush when meeting new people.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      Some individuals may blush when meeting new people.