Blushing is like sweating and shaking. It is an ordinary reaction of the body to emotions like embarrassment, anger, excitement and even love. Blushing is also a common symptom of anxiety for people who dread social interactions or connections. It is characterized by redness in a person’s face, which is sometimes accompanied by intense heat.
Blushing is distinctly different from flushing, wherein the change in color is more intense and extends to the entire body. Another severe type of blushing is idiopathic cranio-facial erythema. In this case, nearly any type of situation like simple and casual conversation causes intense blushing. The good thing is that it only takes a few minutes for the redness to disappear, but it still makes social engagements very uncomfortable. You have a high risk of suffering from idiopathic cranio-facial erythema if you have a phobia of interacting with other people.
When you suddenly experience an uncomfortable emotion like shame or humiliation, a surge of extra adrenaline runs through your bloodstream. When your nervous system gets affected, it widens the veins causing an increased volume of blood to flood the skin. Now you know why your face turns red whenever you fall from a slippery sidewalk, spill a drink on someone or get caught doing something naughty.
Blushing may either look funny, cute or just plain sad. Others interpret it as a sign of weakness, nervousness or dishonesty. Overall, blushing is a natural process that only gets worse when you try to prevent it from happening. Here are some recommended solutions to hide your rather harmless condition.
Mind Over Matter
Psychological treatments have been known to be successful against blushing. It focuses on training your mind to become less conscious and bothered of awkward social encounters. This offers a realistic and attainable approach to get rid of involuntary blushing.
- Cognitive behavior therapy or CBT concentrates the treatment on the way you think, feel and behave during social situations. The exercises try to make you adapt to instances that might cause you to blush. This exposes you to conditions that induce the problem, including phobias or any instances that threaten your mental equilibrium. The idea is that the more you confront such incidents, the less likely you will blush.
- Breathing techniques are also effective against blushing because many of its symptoms are triggered by hyperventilation. When this happens, the blood that circulates in your body, especially through your brain, runs out of carbon dioxide. This teaches you how to breathe through your abdomen to calm yourself down. Yoga is an excellent way to learn calming breathing techniques. With proper training, you now know how to quickly restore your composure once you experience an event that could trigger blushing.
- Hypnosis has also shown positive signs against blushing, and anxiety disorders in general. Since blushing usually takes place involuntarily, curing it on its instinctive level makes sense, which is how hypnosis works. Hypnosis wires your brain to react differently when you face situations that trigger blushing. It also allows you to control your imagination to divert blood flow from your head to other parts of your body. Just make sure you bring someone with you in case your hypno-therapist entrances you to do something crazy or disgusting.
Beta blockers are designed to combat anxiety disorders, both general and social. They also significantly reduce the symptoms that may come with blushing besides the facial redness. This includes rapid heartbeat, cold hands, sweating and heavy breathing, among others. However, beta blockers aren’t approved in the United States as an anti-anxiety drug by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Still, beta blockers have been widely used even by some athletes to lower their heart rate and reduce tremor. Be careful, though, because these pills have noticeable side effects, such as tiredness, weight gain, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness and low blood pressure. In severe cases, side effects include constipation, blurry vision, memory impairment and an alarming change in your heart rate. Another alternative is taking an SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. This antidepressant also makes uneasy instances less daunting, although the side effects are also as grave as that of beta blockers.
Muscle Relaxing Toxin
This is a fairly recent, but effective treatment for facial blushing. When Botox is injected to the skin, the veins responsible for blushing are targeted to prevent neurological stimulation for many months. The entire procedure takes about an hour to complete and you may even go straight to work afterwards.
The treatment could take several sessions and each one is expensive. The effect of muscle relaxants lasts anywhere from two to 12 months and the possibility of side effects are often minimal. The worst that can happen is that you temporarily lose your ability to feel certain muscles in your face.
Under The Knife
If your blushing becomes extremely bothersome and problematic, an ETS or endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy is a drastic, but safe option available for your perusal. The operation entails cutting a portion of your sympathetic nerve that runs down the backbone. This part of the nervous system causes the involuntary symptoms that you experience during times of stress. It is considered a very efficient way to stop facial blushing, as well as excessive sweating. These are two of the most common responses when people face their social phobias.
Be warned that ultra dangerous complications might happen during surgery, such as excessive bleeding and lung problems. The main side effect of ETS after a successful surgery is sweating in different areas of the body such as the palms, face and underarms.
Avoiding Blushing Stimulators
Perhaps the best way to get rid of blushing is by simply dodging the elements that could cause it in the first place. Here are some quick reminders to help you squeeze through a queasy encounter.
- Just relax. Your blushing will only get worse if you become more mortified about your embarrassment. This only forces more blood to your head. When you feel something shameful is about to happen, deliberately drop your shoulders and take a deep breath to relax your body.
- Don’t hide it. Hiding the blushing only creates a vicious cycle. By coming to terms with it and accepting that you blush easily, the redness goes away faster. When something is about to make you uneasy, start telling everyone in the room that you are about to blush or warn them that a red facial reaction is coming through!
- Blushing is normal. Keep in mind that other people blush, too. Everyone has gone through something silly in their life and their experience is probably even more shameful than yours. Don’t think that blushing makes you weak. Some people even find it cute and amusing.
Hopefully, blushing doesn’t cause your mind and body any permanent damage. Just imagine if everybody who blushes avoided social contact: the world would become a very depressing place to live.
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