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Facial Redness: What Causes a Red Face?

What causes a red face? Woman with facial redness

For most people, a flushed face is a sign of one thing and one thing only: embarrassment. That’s a fair assessment. Embarrassment does indeed cause facial redness. Often it shows up as a pattern of red right across the cheekbones. It’s a recognizable reality that most of us are familiar with, but it tends to fade within a few minutes. So, what causes a red face otherwise?

What Else Does a Red Face Signify?

Exertion is another logical answer. And, again, it’s impossible to disagree. If you’ve been exercising up a storm, then your face will show the effort by flushing red. However, as with embarrassment, the redness is only temporary.

However, for some women, facial redness isn’t the result of embarrassment, exercise, alcohol, or another common issue. Instead, redness is from an illness rather than a transitory reflection of an emotion or physical exertion. There are a number of illnesses to explain what causes a red face.

Facial Redness – Seriously?!

Many people don’t take facial redness seriously. There are a number of reasons why. Firstly, it’s because – as described above – we all have “normal” explanations for what causes a red face, so we don’t suspect anything beyond these things when we experience it.

Secondly, it’s fair to say that facial redness is seen as acceptable for many people. When you apply blush as part of your makeup routine, the sole purpose of which is to make your face redder, then it can be harder to see redness as a problem.

The result? Thousands of women may have skin conditions and have no idea that they’re suffering from them. They might not know until a medical professional gives them a diagnosis of rosacea, for example.

So if you’ve ever experienced facial redness, then it’s worth taking the time to think about the causes behind it.

Consider… Cutaneous Lupus

If you’re asking yourself, what is cutaneous lupus? then don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s not a well-known condition. First, it’s important to first distinguish between cutaneous lupus and systemic lupus. Cutaneous lupus affects the skin, while systemic lupus, which has been much-discussed in recent years due to Selena Gomez’s diagnosis of the condition, impacts a range of bodily functions.

Cutaneous lupus produces a red, often butterfly-shaped rash over the face. Sometimes this rash spreads over other areas of the body too. It can be relatively mild, so you just appear to be more flushed than usual, or extremely severe and painful. While it is not dangerous, the skin condition can be uncomfortable and hurt your self-esteem. If you have a persistent red rash anywhere on your body, and particularly across your nose and cheeks, then speak to a doctor and raise cutaneous lupus as a concern.

Consider… Rosacea

Rosacea and cutaneous lupus are often mistaken for one another. So it’s important to speak to a medical professional if you suspect you have either once. Rosacea can cause facial redness, often along with a burning or prickling feeling.

Many rosacea sufferers are able to identify particular “triggers” that will cause their skin to flare. These can be dietary, skincare ingredients, or even the weather. Although rosacea causes flares of severe redness, many sufferers also develop permanent patches of redness.

The cause of rosacea is not very well-known, although there is suspicion in the medical community that it is autoimmune in nature. Until more research happen, most sufferers deal with the condition by themselves, using over-the-counter skincare treatments and avoiding anything that triggers a flare-up.

Consider… Hyperthyroidism

Finally, an overactive thyroid gland can be what causes a red face for some people. However, facial redness is rarely a skin-specific issue with hyperthyroidism. Instead, it’s a result of overheating caused by hyperthyroidism. Therefore, sufferers often experience red patches of skin along with feelings of being really hot or sweating excessively.

If the above sounds familiar, then it’s worth checking the other symptoms of hyperthyroidism too. If you’re nodding along with what you read then speak to a doctor; treatment is available and usually successful.

Conclusions about Facial Redness

Many women don’t see facial redness as a problematic skin condition, especially in comparison to more common ailments like acne and eczema. However, redness isn’t just something that you simply have to accept in life.

If you suspect that you have any of the above-mentioned health conditions, then speak to a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options from there. Hopefully, in the future, any facial redness you experience comes solely from the blush cosmetics on your cheeks!

21 thoughts on “Facial Redness: What Causes a Red Face?”

  1. Thanks for your great post and helping raise awareness that lupus can be a cause! Once, an unenlightened coworker tried to make fun of me for “hitting the blusher a little heavy” that day, when really it was a systemic lupus flare causing the facial rash. Some workplace friends quickly put her in her place!

  2. I’m so pleased to see this post, Christy. As you say, facial redness can be a serious condition, and women, more often than men, will ignore it. You are an advocate for women, and I for one am grateful ♥

  3. Interesting post, Christy. I wasn’t aware of Cutaneous Lupus. I have to admit that it takes very little to make me blush, but my skin always has a pinkish hue. My mum said that I was born red, and that’s more or less the way I’ve stayed with my very fair skin. The redness isn’t related to any of the conditions you describe, though.

  4. I like that u noted there is more than meets the eye with redness – and just wanted to add that what makes me very sad is that we tend to fail to get to root causes – like what led to thyroid problems (usually a stressed and long strained immune system – and then what led to that… possibly metabolic syndrome – an overworked liver and possibly low nutrients from malabsorption or pathogens) and in my very humble opinion I believe that anyone with skin problems needs to rebuild their inner terrain – because the skin is a big dumping ground (as our largest organ) and so a huge mistake folks make is to only think dermis – but usually the skin reflects what is going on in the gut – the GI – and our modern day culture likes to ignore gut cleansing As not needed – and I know a few folks who have recovered from some chronic conditions – it took a few years and it involved cleaning and supplementing to rebuild the entire body terrain – so many people get caught up in managing symptoms until organs fail!!

  5. Hi Christy,

    I was actually diagnosed with rosacea in January. The only symptoms I have are a little bit of redness, not horrible and no acne, but I noticed it enough to see a doctor. I have a cream that I now only apply at night instead of 2x a day, so it has helped. I used to cover it up with foundation, but then I remembered when I used to buy blush. So, no more foundation; I decided to use the rosiness to my advantage. :) So far, so good.

    What I do notice is that my face gets shiny more, and I haven’t been able to determine if this is from rosacea or not. I’m hoping someone else here on your post might be able to answer. Nor have I been able to decipher whether it’s from facial lotion, etc. I, too, wear sunscreen all the time, and am aware of the normal triggers for redness. Honestly, living in a box would be advantageous, since exercise, spicy foods, wine, sunshine, etc. are triggers. :)

    Anyway, thanks again. This has been helpful and also reassuring that I’m not alone in dealing with this. Hugs, my friend…

  6. I have rosacea Christy. I used to fret over it and hate it. And I’ve had a few new doctors check me for Lupus, which freaked me out.

    Now I am super careful about what products I use on my face, and always, always wear sunscreen. My husband loves my rosy cheeks.

  7. Being a redhead, my face turned RED in my younger years due to shyness, embarrassment and insecurity. I outgrew that only to be tormented by red-faced (and body!) hot flashes, which have also dissipated. My mother, however, had the tell-tale signs of systemic lupus in the form of the butterfly rash in her early 40s, and didn’t see a doc about it until later when other lupus symptoms occurred. Great post and so worth a read!

  8. Hello There… I want to thank you so very much for this insightful entry. I’ve already printed this out, and am going to consult with my dermatologist. I’ve been diagnosed with rosacea and the medication provided me no results whatsoever. Then I was told it was due to anxiety.
    Again… Thank you very much. I will take this very seriously.

  9. I had rosacea. After eating Indian food five days in a row during a trip to Portland, Maine, in 2014, my face flared up with red skin AND pustules. I called my dermatologist’s office, explained that I couldn’t afford to come in to see her, and her receptionist told me to use Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength as facial soap. Not only have I not had a flareup since, I haven’t needed anti-acne products like the Proactiv that I used to use. (If you google “head & shoulders rosacea,” you’ll see all sorts of forum discussions about it.

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