Blushing or Flushing Caused by Anxiety

There is no magic drug to prevent the normal flushing caused by anxiety, but there are things that you can try.

Decide not to mind it. Your face is probably not as red as you think it is, and your blushing is probably less noticeable than you imagine. Think carefully about whether it really matters if other people know that you are nervous. Everyone knows that giving a speech, meeting new people, asking someone out, being complimented or having an argument (or any other situation that makes you blush) are circumstances that make everyone nervous, whether or not they are prone to blushing.

Control your anxiety. If you think that you tend to be overfearful or apprehensive, relaxation therapy or cognitive therapy (which helps you to see situations in a different light) may help. Your doctor will be able to give you advice about these or look in your local library for self-help books.

Blushing or Flushing Caused by Drugs, Chemicals or Foods

A few drugs can cause flushing, so it is worth checking whether you are taking any of the following:

  • chlorpropamide (for diabetes), which can cause flushing if you take it with alcohol
  • glyceryl trinitrate, isosorbide dinitrate (for angina)
  • tamoxifen (for breast cancer and some other conditions)
  • buserelin, goserelin, leuprorelin and triptorelin (for prostate tumours in men)
  • raloxifene (for osteoporosis)
  • calcitonin (for some bone disorders)
  • nicotinic acid (for high cholesterol)
  • calcium-channel blockers (for angina or high blood pressure).

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour-enhancing chemical sometimes added to foods (e.g. Chinese meals), which can cause flushing in some people. Alcohol and spicy foods can also be triggers.


First published on:
Reviewed and edited by: Dr Anna Cantlay
Last updated: October 2020

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