How come I blush when I start talking to someone I like?

Stan Megraw
23 January 2012

There he is. He's tall, he's handsome, and he's heading your way! OMG. You are racking your brain trying to think of something to say. He looks at you. Could this be the moment you've been waiting for? You are getting ready to say something and....

What's happening? Your face is feeling really hot. A sweat breaks over your forehead......you steal a look in your locker mirror; your face is bright red! So embarrassing! You run for cover.

Why do you blush when your crush is near? Is it a sick joke of nature or is there really some sort of purpose behind it?

Blushing is a natural phenomenon, and you have probably noticed from your friends' faces, that you are not alone. For some people, in response to embarrassment or nervousness, their bodies go into "fight or flight" mode. This means their sympathetic nervous system (part of the nervous system that prepares the body to react to situations of stress or emergency) gets revved up. Other symptoms include:

pupils dilate increased heart rate breathing faster and deeper decreased saliva in your mouth sweating In some people, their sympathetic nervous system causes a temporary vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) of the vessels that go to their face and neck. Wider blood vessels mean that more blood (read: RED blood) can rush to the skin creating that wonderful rosey-face look. In other people, it's a release of hormonal factors such as endorphins, prostaglandins, histamine, and others that cause the vasodilation.

Did You Know?
Erythrophobia, which literally means "fear of redness", refers to pathological blushing The end result is the same: more blood is moved to your skin. When you are in a stressful situation, your metabolic rate also goes up (again, part of the whole "fight or flight" thing). With an increased metabolism, your body creates extra heat (a bi-product of cellular metabolism). Moving more blood to your skin, and making you look red in the process, is your body's natural way to "blowing off steam".

Blushing usually affects the face and neck. However, it can affect the entire body in some people. Usually, it's a temporary process lasting seconds to minutes. But in some people, it can last hours... or longer!

You may have noticed that some people are more prone to blushing than others. This can either be for a biological reason (their "fight of flight" response is strong) or because they are particularly sensitive to embarrassment (shy people).

Did You Know?
The cosmetic blush is applied to the checks to give that rosey glow and is thought by some to have originated to show signs of sexual anticipation So there you have it. If you can figure out a way to keep yourself cool and relaxed around your crush, you may be able to avoid having that overly rosy red-face look.

For some people, blushing/flushing can be a serious medical problem. For them there are medications and even surgeries. However, for the rest of us, it's just one of those facts of life that we'll have to put up with.

CurioCity would like to thank Dr. Lisa-Ann McKeough for her expertise and help with answering this question. Lisa-Ann is currently completing her residency training in Internal Medicine at UWO. She enjoys travel, jazz, song-writing and yoga, but her greatest love is learning.

Stan Megraw

Stan is a writer/researcher, a PhD graduate of McGill University and was a member of the CurioCity team for several years. As a kid he dreamed of playing hockey in the NHL then becoming an astronaut with NASA. Instead, he ended up as an environmental research scientist. In his spare time Stan enjoys working on DIY projects, cooking and exploring his Irish roots.


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Avatar  mackenzie

this article is very descriptive of what I was looking for

Avatar  mackenzie

This was very descriptive for what I was looking for