Dealing with Anxiety Symptoms: Blushing

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Blushing is a natural physical response in reaction to strong emotions, such as embarrassment, anger or excitement. For people with anxiety, in particular social anxiety, blushing in itself can be embarrassing and the fear of blushing can increase both the intensity and frequency of blushing.


    Blushing can also happen because of certain medical conditions. If you have a persistent problem with blushing, a medical professional to make sure there is not an underlying medical reason. Some medical conditions that may cause blushing:


    • Carcinoid syndrome
    • High fever
    • Menopause
    • Rosacea


    In addition, some medications that are used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol may cause blushing. Eating spicy foods and alcohol use are also known to cause blushing.

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    If your doctor determines there is no physical cause for blushing, it is most probably a react to strong emotion.


    Although blushing can make someone self-conscious, most people do not notice when someone blushes and if they do, they do not believe it is any big deal. However, for people with social anxiety, blushing can cause great embarrassment and they worry about it happening, which may cause it to happen more often. According to Dr. Richards, in an article, "Blushing: A Symptom f Social Anxiety," "...the fear of blushing may be so strong that they bring the blushing on themselves, even in fairly minor public situations. If we are consumed, obsessed, and worried about blushing, then or brain is focused on blushing and, therefore, it will happen to us much more frequently." [1]


    Much like other symptoms of anxiety, people with social anxiety may feel as if they have no control over blushing and that they will need to live with this uncomfortable and embarrassing situation. But treatment for anxiety can often help decrease the frequency and the intensity of blushing. By understanding social anxiety and the triggers of anxiety symptoms, sufferers can learn to control their anxiety and therefore control the blushing.


    Dr. Richards suggests treating blushing as if it did not even happen. If you continue on with your conversation or with whatever situation you may be in, chances are no one will even notice and this will help you to overcome blushing and embarrassment.


    When blushing is a result of social anxiety, treatment specifically for blushing is not effective. Instead, cognitive therapy for social anxiety is more effective. Treating the cause of the blushing, rather than treating the symptom can help to make someone more comfortable in social situations.


    If you have a problem with blushing in public and this causes discomfort or interferes with your ability to interact with others, it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Social anxiety is a treatable condition and by treating the social anxiety, you will be treating the blushing.




    [1] "Blushing: A Symptom of Social Anxiety", 2008, Thomas A. Richards, PhD., The Social Anxiety Institute, Inc.


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    Skin Blushing/Flushing, Updated 2007, April 16, Updated by Michael S. Lehrer, M.D., National Institutes of Health


Published On: October 13, 2008