Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Run?
If your face flushes after running, you are not alone. This is a common problem, especially in women and people with fair skin. When you run, your body produces heat. Sweat helps cool you down. Your body also increases the blood supply to the skin to help regulate temperature. Your capillaries dilate so more blood can flow through them and radiate additional heat through your skin.
The diameter of the capillaries in the cheeks is wider than elsewhere and they are closer to the surface. Then when they dilate, there is more red blood coming closer to the surface, giving it that pinkish-red color.
Many runners get flushed in the face no matter how much their fitness improves (in fact, some research shows that endurance athletes turn redder early in their workouts than less fit people).
Everyone handles heat differently, and just as some runners sweat more than others, some blush and some don't. Some people naturally have more capillaries.
Others may have capillaries that naturally bring more blood to the face during exertion. Either way, they are more likely to flush with exercise.
Running in Hot Weather
You may find it redder if you are running hard or in hot or humid weather. During hot weather, try running early in the morning or later (or indoors if it's really bad). Also, make sure to stay hydrated during races and to drink when you're thirsty. Try pouring water on your head, neck, and armpits to cool yourself off.
If you have symptoms other than flushed face, such as dizziness or nausea, you may have a heat-related illness, such as dehydration or heat exhaustion. Stop running immediately, drink some water and go to the shade.
Duration of Flushing
Most exertional flushing lasts no more than 15-20 minutes. There isn't much you can do to speed up the process, but you can try:
- Spray or spray cold water on your face during training
- Cool down properly to lower your heart rate
- Take a cold shower, wash your face with cold water, or cleanse your face (some contain aloe to soothe the skin and caffeine to constrict blood vessels) after training.
- Moisturize your face after washing it; try an anti-redness or sensitive skin formula
- Apply a green corrective foundation followed by a colored moisturizer
When to talk to your doctor
Although a flushed face during the race is usually harmless, you should still tell your doctor, especially if you are new to the race.
If you have other symptoms like diarrhea, wheezing, hives, or shortness of breath, this could be a sign of a more serious illness.
Be aware if she blushes under other circumstances. Is it worse with certain foods or when you drink alcohol? Discuss any connections you have noticed with your doctor.
If the blush lasts for more than half an hour after exercise, or passes and comes back at the end of the day, it could be a sign of rosacea. If that's the case, treatment is available.
Some medications, including acne creams like benzoyl peroxide, some antibiotics, and medications for high blood pressure, can cause redness or make it worse.
Additionally, phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE 5) inhibitors, including sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and tadalafil (Adcirca), can also cause redness. PDE 5 drugs are used to treat pulmonary hypertension and erectile dysfunction.
You can talk to your doctor about this side effect. It can also help avoid topical treatments that irritate the skin (like retinol or chemical peels) the night before planning a long run or intense workout.
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