Blushing, Flushing, Turning Red Anxiety Symptoms

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated May 19, 2021

blushing flushing turning red anxiety symptoms

Blushing and turning red are common anxiety disorder symptoms. Many people blush when they are anxious or embarrassed, which is a form of anxiety.

Do you struggle with anxiety? Have you been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. If you haven't been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, you can use our Free Online Anxiety Disorder Test Quiz or our regular free online instant results Anxiety Test to get an idea of your level of anxiety, and if it is in the range of what is normally considered to be an anxiety disorder.

The following information pertains to the anxiety symptom “Blushing; Turning Red.”

Blushing, flushing, turning red anxiety symptom description:

  • Your skin feels flushed, turns red, or blushes. You experience uncontrollable blushing, flushing, or turning red.
  • Your face turns red and looks like you are blushing or being flushed.
  • Your skin feels hot, warm, or clammy. This often includes the skin on your face.
  • Your skin can also look red, inflamed, flushed, or blushed.

While this flushing symptom is most commonly associated with “looking embarrassed” or “blushing” (increased redness on the face, head, or neck), it can occur anywhere on the body.

This blushing, flushing feeling can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you have blushing once in a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.

This blushing, flushing feeling may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This blushing, turning red can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This blushing, turning red can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This blushing, flushing, turning red can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

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What causes blushing, flushing, and skin turning red?

Medical Advisory

The most common causes are:

Feeling embarrassed: like you’ve made a mistake that everyone can see.

Feeling embarrassed is a form of anxiety - being fearful that someone may think ill of us, and therefore, reject us. When we’re anxious, the body actives the stress response (fight or flight response).[1] A part of the stress response changes includes causing the body to shunt blood around in the body so that more blood can be sent to parts of the body vital for survival, which includes the head, brain, and extremities. The body shunts blood around by constricting and dilating blood vessels.

When blood is shunted to the head, blood vessels open to let more blood in, which can cause the skin to look red as more blood nears the surface of the skin. Looking flushed is a common indication of an active stress response triggered by being anxious.

Being overly warm

Warmth causes blood vessels to dilate, which causes more blood to near the surface of the skin. When the body is warm, more blood is able to near the surface of the skin making the skin feel warm and look red.[2] A hot environment is a common cause of blushing, flushing, and having skin turn red.

Chronic stress (stress-response hyperstimulation)

Just as an active stress response can cause a blushing, flushing, turning red effect, so can persistently elevated stress. When the body is overly stressed (stress-response hyperstimulated), it can cause changes in the body similar to that of an active stress response.[1] And it can make these changes involuntarily. This is why we can experience blushing, flushing, and turning red for no apparent reason. Persistently elevated stress is another common cause of blushing, flushing, and turning red. Especially, when this occurs for no apparent reason.

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How to cure blushing, flushing, and turning red?

Calm yourself down

Calming yourself down can bring an end to an active stress response. As the stress response ends, it will stop causing changes in the body, including having the body shunt blood for emergency readiness purposes.

Address your social anxiety issues

Most often, we feel embarrassed because we are concerned what people will think of us. The more fearful you are that someone may belittle, make fun of, or reject you, the more socially anxious you’ll be. Dealing with your social anxiety issues can eliminate feeling embarrassed and its associated reactions, like blushing, flushing, and turning red.

Eliminate chronic stress

Since persistently elevated stress can cause involuntary episodes of blushing, flushing, and turning red, reducing your body’s stress can eliminate these involuntary episodes. The more calm and relaxed your body becomes, the less likely you’ll experience involuntary episodes of blushing, flushing, and turning red.

There are many more strategies, as well.

For more detailed information about anxiety symptoms and how to overcome them, including this one, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including blushing, flushing, turning red anxiety symptoms.

References

1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Understanding the Stress Response - Harvard Health.” Harvard Health Blog.

2. Hedrick, M S, et al. “Effects of Temperature and Physical Activity on Blood Flow Shunts and Intracardiac Mixing in the Toad Bufo Marinus.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine.