Why Do People Blush?

There are scientific/biological reasons for why people blush, of course. But most people want to know what it is in life that makes the face turn more pink or red than normal.

The face has many more small blood vessels and “loops” than other places in the body. These vessels are generally bigger than some of the other tiny vessels located throughout the human body. Since they are very near the face surface, any time the vessels fill with more blood than normal, the blood’s red color adds to the color of the face.

Blushing is widely known to be caused by embarrassment or an anxious/stressful moment. The basis of this is the same natural reaction in the body that occurs when we are in a defensive mode or a situation that requires quickness or flight from danger. The adrenaline that flows through the system at these times adds to the tendency to blush.

It is only natural that people with a more pale complexion will show obvious blushing, while on those with a darker complexion or “ruddy” complexion blushing won’t be so obvious. This can be very obvious in young people, especially those who are going through natural changes. But research apparently hasn’t made a definite connection between adolescent hormones and blushing.

Individuals with similar complexions might blush at different times or at different rates as well. Some people might even avoid situations that cause stress, anxiety or embarrassment simply because they don’t want to be seen blushing excessively. Scientists have even attached a clinical name to this fear of turning red.

Beyond normal blushing, some people experience a real redness of the face and neck area. This “flush” can also be accompanied by other physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and a feeling of being dizzy. Some people who become flushed in stressful situations also sweat more at these times. This may be an indication of a social disorder that should be addressed with psychological counseling or medical treatment.

The bottom line with blushing is that scientific research and medical experience haven’t provided a final answer to the question of why people blush. The majority of human beings will blush when in an embarrassing or stressful situation and this happens for about the same reasons in everyone. Doctors have begun to focus on the part of our nervous system that is called “sympathetic.” Actions that involve this part of our nervous system are generally automatic. We don’t have the ability to control what our body does through will power. Since these are involuntary actions, it may be necessary to simply live with the blushing or try to avoid situations that cause blushing, without severely limiting our social interaction, of course. One interesting psychological theory points to blushing as a way for the person to say he or she is sorry for acting in such a way. In addition, a person who blushes may well be communicating to others that he or she realizes a mistake and wants to move on by correcting it.

Written by Lucas Beaumont

Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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