What Happens When We Blush?
When we blush we go red in the face, particularly in the cheeks and neck. This is because a sudden emotion, such as embarrassment, a sense of shame or pleasure, causes the very small blood vessels just below the surface of the skin to become larger. As these blood vessels, called capillaries, are full of blood, the skin looks red.
When people blush they usually feel hot and uncomfortable, and imagine that their red faces are very noticeable. This is not always so, because some people’s blushes do not show. It depends very much on the color of the skin. Blushing is most noticeable on a fair-haired, pale-skinned person.
Young people, particularly girls in their teens, are supposed to blush more easily than older people. This is true of many girls. As they grow older, they usually blush less easily, because they learn to cope with sudden emotions. Severe blushing is common in people who suffer social anxiety in which the person experiences extreme and persistent anxiety in social and performance situations.
Blushing is generally distinguished, despite a close physiological relation, from flushing, which is more intensive and extends over more of the body, and seldom has a mental source. If redness persists for abnormal amounts of time after blushing, then it may be considered an early sign of rosacea.
Idiopathic craniofacial erythema is a medical condition where a person blushes strongly with little or no provocation. Just about any situation can bring on intense blushing and it may take one or two minutes for the blush to disappear. Severe blushing can make it difficult for the person to feel comfortable in either social or professional situations. People who have social phobia are particularly prone to idiopathic craniofacial erythema. Psychological treatments and medication can help control blushing.