Picture this - you are walking through the school corridor, and suddenly, your crush (for the longest time), walks in from the other end. You give him a longing stare, one that you can't stop. At that very moment, (Damn!) He looks at you. A few seconds pass, where you are in absolute limbo. Then, you realize that you are staring at the ground, tingling with apprehension. Embarrassment is only an understatement then. You know you're blushing, and people around you can see it too. All your friends ask you the reason for your blushing, and then you blush some more! Been there?
So, what is blushing?
It is the reddening of the face, which may be accompanied with certain other signs like heart palpitations and a tingling sensation. Blushing occurs due to the emotional response given by the body to embarrassment, modesty and/or shame. It is caused due to the overlapping of mental attitudes, which produce embarrassment, and an inability to function rightly. An interesting fact about blushing is that it is commonly seen in young people, and can be called a rarity among the older generation!
That understood, why does a person's face turn red when s/he blushes? Well, when the mind is confused, it affects the sympathetic nervous system. Due to precisely this, the vasodilators are stimulated, causing the peripheral capillaries to expand. When the peripheral capillaries expand, more blood flows towards your neck and face, causing your face to redden. Having known this, let's proceed to the types and respective causes of blushing.
Difference Between Blushing and Excessive Blushing
At one point or another, every human being blushes in his/her entire lifetime. However, there are some people who blush every now and then. It is an involuntary action for them too, just that it happens on a regular basis. This condition of excessive blushing is known as idiopathic craniofacial erythema. People putting up with this are many, and surprisingly, they do not need a specific reason or triggering event to blush. They can blush even if someone asks them for directions! There are many causes that lead to this problem, all of them stated in the paragraphs below!
Causes of Normal Blushing:
- Embarrassment: Embarrassment is the major cause of both normal, and excessive blushing. When something we are thinking of unexpectedly happens, or something worse than our expectation takes place, we tend to store it. The next time we suddenly remember this, we feel embarrassed and blush.
- Exercise: Vigorous exercise of even 20 minutes can make the face go red. However, this reddening of face is more related to flushed face than blushing.
- Intensely Experienced Feelings: Some intensely experienced feelings like frustration, sadness, happiness, fear, etc. can make the face go red. Sometimes, it is due to self-awareness, like in the case of uncontrollable laughter. Similarly, in the case of frustration, you can notice an increased blood pressure.
- Other Causes: Certain other factors like menopause, spicy food, certain medicines etc. can cause blushing. This however, is occasional.
Causes of Excessive Blushing:
- Embarrassment: Embarrassment is a cause of blushing problem also, but the feeling is more intense in case of excessive blushing. To state in a simpler way, you feel embarrassed about situations/actions more than what other people do. This again, does not need any specific reason.
- Phobia of Social Interaction: People facing the problem of excessive facial blushing are anxious about interacting with people. Whenever they are in company of many people, they will blush uncontrollably.
- Rosacea: Excessive blushing can be an early symptom of rosacea, a chronic health ailment.
How to Treat Blushing Problems
Treating idiopathic craniofacial erythema is not very difficult. The following are the most commonly prescribed treatments for the same.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is given to people suffering from idiopathic craniofacial erythema, to bring a change in their thinking. It helps them to adjust with people in the society, and to stop underestimating themselves.
- Meditation: Meditation or breathing exercises are also said to help improve blushing problem, as it decreases anxiety by depleting the carbon dioxide level in blood.
- Medications: Certain medications to cure the blushing problem are available, however, they should be taken only after consulting your doctor.
- Surgery: If the patient doesn't respond to any other medication, or the problem is too severe, doctor may suggest Endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy (ETS). Certain instruments are inserted in the chest cavity, and some of the involuntary nerves that control the blood vessel diameters are removed. This is said to decrease blushing problems by 90%. However, there are many risks involved in this surgery, and it should be avoided as much as possible.
This was all about blushing and its problems. Blushing once in a while is completely natural, so, do not get freaked out unless you find yourself blushing very frequently. And, if at all you really are suffering from any of the blushing problems, you can surely get rid of them with the above mentioned treatment.