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Red Face When Exercising- Normal or Not?

Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Exercise?

Do you get a bright red face when exercising? You may even stay red and blotchy after exercise. Is this normal or does it mean you have rosacea, high blood pressure, or another medical condition? Is there anything that can be done to prevent facial flushing?

What causes a red face?

What causes a red face when you exercise?

When you exercise, blood flow increases to your skin making it look pink, red or blotchy.

This is one of the ways that the body helps lower it's temperature and it is completely normal.

However, some people, especially those with very light skin, get an extremely red face after exercise and it can last over an hour.

Why do I get red, blotchy skin after exercise?

Increased blood flow to the skin causes a red face.

A extremely red face that lasts along time after exercise may be rosacea.

Even if it not true rosacea, rosacea prescription medication that prevent dilation of the blood vessels can help prevent a red face when you exercise.

Ask your doctor about oxymetazoline.

Find a dermatologist or medical provider near you here.

Is my red face after exercising rosacea?

Rosacea is a skin disorder that is progressive when not treated.

If you have normal blood pressure and are healthy but your face gets very red when exercising, you may have rosacea. Learn more about rosacea in men here.


Getting on a soothing skin care routine will help. 

The first step is learning your Baumann Skin Type. If you are using the wrong skin care products, this can make your face get really red with exercise even if you do not have actual rosacea.


How to prevent a red face when working out?

I live in Miami where it is very hot so I am often asked by patients "How to keep my face from getting red when working out?" This can be especially troublesome problem when exercising outdoors.

Here are some tips to help prevent a red face while running or exercising:

  • Avoid chemical sunscreens that can cause a skin rash when used in the sun (photoallergy)
  • Put ice in a metal water bottle so your beverage is really cold. You can roll the cold metal bottle on your face to cool it
  • Ask your doctor about a medication called Rhofade that helps shrink blood vessels on the face preventing redness when exercising. Apply it 2 - 4 hours before exercising for best results.
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables to stabilize your microbiome which plays a poorly understood role in rosacea
  • Eat salmon and flax seed oil for their anti-inflammatory properties
  • Use detergents such as Tide Free on the towels you use for your face when exercising
  • Avoid washing face with face wipes or alcohol pads
  • Avoid using hydroxyacids on your skin prior to exercise
  • Use a skin care routine for sensitive skin that matches your Baumann Skin Type

Baumann Skin Types

What chemicals in sunscreen should I avoid so I wont get a red face when exercising outside?

  • Avobenzone (Parsol)
  • Benzophenone
  • Butylmethoxydibenzoylmethane
  • Dibenzyl
  • Octocrylene
  • Oxybenzone

How to get rid of a red face after exercising?

The prescription medication for rosacea called Rhofade works by preventing blood vessels from dilating on the face.

If used regularly (on a daily basis) it can help prevent facial redness during and after exercise. It takes 2-4 hours to kick in so apply at least 2- 4 hours before exercising. Results last 12 hours so if you exercise first thing in the am, you can apply it before you go to bed so you are within the 12 hour window.

Although you can use Rhofade sporadically, it works best when used regularly with anti-inflammatory ingredients in a sensitive skin care routine that is customized for your Baumann Skin Type.


caffeine

What can cause a red face besides exercise?

All of these can cause an extremally red face after exercise:

  • detergents in towels
  • caffeine, red bull and other stimulants
  • emotion
  • heat
  • hormones
  • stress
  • rosacea
  • using the wrong skin care products for your skin type
Level up your skin care knowledge

Best References and Scientific Publications on Red Face With Exercise:

  1. Baumann L. Rosacea in Ch. 17 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Chapters 64-74.  Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. Drummond, P. D. (1997). The effect of adrenergic blockade on blushing and facial flushing. Psychophysiology, 34(2), 163-168.
  4. Draelos, Z. D., Gold, M. H., Weiss, R. A., Baumann, L., Grekin, S. K., Robinson, D. M., ... & Ahluwalia, G. (2018). Efficacy and safety of oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for treatment of persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: findings from the 52-week open label REVEAL trial. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 78(6), 1156-1163.
  5. Baumann, L., Goldberg, D. J., Tanghetti, E. A., Lain, E., Kaufman, J., Weng, E., ... & Ahluwalia, G. (2018). Pivotal trial of the efficacy and safety of oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for the treatment of persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: findings from the second REVEAL trial. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 17(3), 290-298.
  6. Stein-Gold, L., Kircik, L., Draelos, Z. D., Werschler, P., DuBois, J., Lain, E., ... & Berk, D. (2018). Topical oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: pooled analysis of the two phase 3, 29-day, randomized, controlled REVEAL trials. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 17(11), 1201-1208.
  7. Stein-Gold, L., Kircik, L., Draelos, Z. D., Werschler, P., DuBois, J., Lain, E., ... & Berk, D. (2018). Topical oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for persistent facial erythema associated with rosacea: pooled analysis of the two phase 3, 29-day, randomized, controlled REVEAL trials. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology: JDD, 17(11), 1201-1208.
  8. Baumann, L., Goldberg, D. J., Stein Gold, L. F., Tanghetti, E. A., Lain, E., Kaufman, J., & Ahluwalia, G. (2017). Efficacy and safety of topical oxymetazoline cream 1.0% for the treatment of facial erythema associated with rosacea: findings from the second of 2 pivotal trials.
  9. Del Rosso, J. Q., & Tanghetti, E. (2021). Topical oxymetazoline hydrochloride cream 1% for the treatment of persistent facial erythema of rosacea in adults: a comprehensive review of current evidence. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 14(3), 32.
  10. İkizoğlu, G. (2014). Red face revisited: Flushing. Clinics in Dermatology, 32(6), 800-808.
  11. Dessinioti, C., & Antoniou, C. (2017). The “red face”: Not always rosacea. Clinics in Dermatology, 35(2), 201-206.
  12. Wilkin, J. K. (1993). The red face: flushing disorders. Clinics in dermatology, 11(2), 211-223.
  13. Miyazawa, T., Horiuchi, M., Ichikawa, D., Subudhi, A. W., Sugawara, J., & Ogoh, S. (2012). Face cooling with mist water increases cerebral blood flow during exercise: effect of changes in facial skin blood flow. Frontiers in Physiology, 3, 308.
  14. Armada-da-Silva, P. A., Woods, J., & Jones, D. A. (2004). The effect of passive heating and face cooling on perceived exertion during exercise in the heat. European journal of applied physiology, 91, 563-571.

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