What is Flushing?

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What is Flushing?
Flushing is also known as skin blushing or the impulsive reddening of the face, chest or upper neck. Sometimes flushing can be seen on the ears usually to reflect embarrassment. However, flushing may also occur in times when a person gets angry, excited or under strong emotions. On the other hand, flushing may also be a symptom of particular medical condition such as carcinoid syndrome.

Carcinoid syndrome is related to carcinoid tumors. The syndrome is actually a group of symptoms, which affects the small intestine, appendix, colon, and bronchial tubes. People with carcinoid syndrome will often be seen with skin flushing.

The most common causes of flushing are extreme emotions, hot and spicy foods and rosacea. Rosacea is a persistent condition of the skin, which is characterized by the inflammation of the cheeks, chin, nose, forehead and sometimes the eyelids. Redness of such skin parts is evident. Sometimes swelling and skin eruptions occur that is very much similar to acne.

Some other causes of flushing are listed below.

  • Regulated drugs like cocaine, amphetamines and heroin.
  • Intake of niacin of vitamin B3 in high doses.
  • Skin inflammation or allergic skin reaction.
  • Intake of beverages high in caffeine such as coffee.
  • Mastocystosis.
  • Histamines.
  • Intake of antibiotic along with alcohol.
  • Sudden physical exertion that puts the heart in high stress.
  • COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like emphysema or pink puffer.
  • Alcohol intake.
  • Atropine intoxication.
  • Poisoning caused by carbon monoxide.
  • Iron intoxication.
  • Allergic reaction caused by antibiotics.
  • Orgasm or sexual arousal.
  • Menopausal period.
  • Extremely high fever.
  • Intake of medicines for treatment of high cholesterol and diabetes.
  • Abrupt change in temperature.

Flushing may also be caused by sex flush, which is the result of an increased blood flow during orgasm. Orgasm may cause vasocongestion, which means the skin appears red due to blood flow. It is estimated that 50 percent to 75 percent of women exhibits sex flush. On the other hand, 25 percent of males show the same skin reddening. Studies show that sex flush normally happen under warm environment.
Sex flush in females show pink spots around the breast, face, hands, and torso and sometimes at the soles of the feet. In extreme sex flush, the whole body may show redness. It is also evident that the clitoris and the vaginal walls darken as a female undergoes orgasm. On men, sex flush is evident on the upper abdomen up to the chest. The neck, face, ears, forehead and the entire back also turns red during orgasm. However, studies show that sex flush is inconsistently seen in males than in females. Sex flush gradually disappears as soon as after the orgasm.

Flushing may only be avoided if an individual avoids things that cause their flushing. If an individual knows he or she is allergic to a particular medication, then that individual must refrain from taking such medication. On the other hand, if flushing seems to be very persistent, a doctor must be immediately seen. The doctor will help diagnose what causes the flushing and will provide appropriate medication or treatment.

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