Facial Flushing

Facial flushing is a sudden reddening of the face. The redness may affect the neck, or upper chest and is often associated with a sense of warmth, sweating or mild itching.

Facial flushing is a normal bodily response to an intense emotion, such as embarrassed or anger. It may also be associated with certain medical conditions, including:

  • Rosacea
  • Alcohol use
  • Certain medicines used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol
  • High fever
  • Menopause
  • Rapid changes in temperature

The treatment of facial flushing depends on the underlying cause.

Facial flushing due to rosacea may be treated with the following approaches:

  • Topical rosacea medications. In some cases the redness can be effectively treated with a medication applied to the skin that reduces inflammation, such as azelaic acid and metronidazole (MetroGel®). It can take a few months to see noticeable improvement from the use of a topical medication so it is important to be patient and take the medication each day as prescribed. Long-term use of a topical medication may be recommended to provide long-term control.
  • Brimonidine. This is the active ingredient of Mirvaso®, a topical medication applied to the skin that is FDA approved for the treatment of persistent redness in those with rosacea.
  • Oxymetazoline. Some research has found that oxymetazoline, the active ingredient in some nasal decongestants can relieve the redness associated with flushed skin when applied topically. Nasal decongestants are not presently formulated to be applied to the skin, but new formulations may be available soon.
  • Laser and Light Treatments. A variety of laser and light treatments, including Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) may be recommend to treat the redness, flushing and visible blood vessels of rosacea subtype 1. Most people require 4 to 8 treatment sessions per year for a few years to significantly reduce redness and flushing. At least 2 treatments are needed to diminish visible blood vessels. Once the desired results are seen, patients may not need treatment again for several years, though results vary from person to person.