Help me to stop blushing!
July 27, 2011 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I blush often, even when I'm not embarrassed or angry. How can I stop?

I blush altogether too frequently. I'm a straight woman and I blush when men talk to me. I blush when I'm the center of attention (and I don't get particularly anxious when that happens). I blush when people use language others might find offensive (even when it doesn't offend me). I blush when professors call on me (even after I've raised my hand and asked to be called on). In situations where I am totally comfortable, my face burns right up!

How can I stop blushing so much?

I saw this but it was 6 years ago and the comments tended more toward advice on a medical procedure.
posted by thewestinggame to Human Relations (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Oh god, I feel your pain. I've read about the drug propranolol reducing blushing, but have not tried it myself. One thing I notice is that when I've had a ton of caffeine or sugar, it tends to get my whole system a little amped up and the blushing is even more unpredictable and excessive than usual. I'll be watching this thread closely for more advice...
posted by indognito at 4:29 PM on July 27, 2011

This used to be a problem for me, although I don't think as severely as it affects you.

I made a decision to be very conscious of when I was in those kinds of situations to take some deep breaths and concentrate on not having it happen. I also realized I could fake some coughs when I was in such a situation that would make people think I was blushing for that reason.

For me, it was mostly about being the center of attention or having to speak to a large crowd of people, and after doing those things long enough while trying to control it (and realizing I had a fake excuse at the ready), I was able to get over it
posted by andoatnp at 4:44 PM on July 27, 2011

I sympathize! I could have written this exact question. Here's how I deal: in my case, I also turn red when I'm hot, so when someone is rude enough to comment that I'm blushing, I can say something vague about the weather or the room temperature. I make an effort not to dress too warmly, and to cool off when I feel myself blushing. It seems to help. Also I avoid wearing red shirts because they make me look even redder. And I try hard to not worry about blushing because somehow when I think about it, it gets worse.
posted by beandip at 4:56 PM on July 27, 2011

I believe there was an article about this in the New Yorker a couple of years ago, but not sure.

Ok don't tell me I don't know my NYer articles. Here it is.
posted by sully75 at 5:40 PM on July 27, 2011

I haven't found a cure yet, unfortunately, but I do drop a lot of "ha ha, *breathing* makes me blush!" comments at appropriate times when I'm first meeting people I'm going to be working with to try to take some of the significance of the blushing away. Or so I hope.
posted by smirkette at 5:51 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

The same thing happens to me. I have heard that beta-blockers can help, but haven't tried them yet. If I know I'll be in a situation where I'm prone to blush (basically talking to anyone about anything, ever) I bring a cold bottle of water. Sipping it keeps me cool and makes me feel the blushing less, which keeps the blushing from getting worse because I start blushing more when I realize it is happening.

I have also had good luck with taking Ativan, which is not really an everyday option but worked wonderfully on my wedding day. The other thing that I do is try to dress to minimize the exposed area when I know I'll be blushing. I always make sure I'm wearing long sleeves and a higher-necked shirt when I am going to be giving a presentation or getting an evaluation at work.
posted by elvissa at 6:44 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Excessive facial blushing is one symptom of hyperhydrosis, a condition that causes excessive sweating. I have this condition and have found propranalol to be an effective treatment. I order mine from for a very reasonable price.. I take 40mg an hour before I need it to kick in. Consult your MD before taking prescription meds, natch.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:26 PM on July 27, 2011

Yes, I am very fair-skinner, and I have really struggled with blushing too. Strangely enough, this has really only been a problem throughout my twenties, never before. I have beta blockers (propranalol) that I take before really high-stress, high-performance situations, and they do help. I might still blush a little bit, but they stop that, "Oh no! I'm blushing, and I'm so embarrassed that I'm blushing, so now I'm going to blush harder!" heart-pounding reaction to blushing that happens sometimes. The negative with beta blockers for me is that they drop my blood pressure and make me feel a little dizzy, and then I start getting freaked out that I might faint, which is much more of a conversation-killer than blushing :)

For the past six months or so my blushing problem has been dramatically lessened by The Shyness & Social Anxiety Workbook. I wouldn't have said I was particularly socially anxious, but this workbook really made me notice all the negative things I was saying to myself before and during the times I blushed. I was really telling myself a lot of negative messages about how people were judging me for blushing, when most of the time people just don't care much or immediately forget my red face. The workbook helped me to stop caring so much about my blushing, and to accept it as part of myself. There's also some work with exposure to phobias (and blushing really did become a phobia for me) that I found very helpful. They have you write out situations in which you usually blush, and then gradually expose yourself to these situations in controlled ways. Sounds scary, and I'm not describing it super clearly, but it really works.
posted by LizzyBee at 7:37 PM on July 27, 2011

I was a vegetarian as a teenager, and took vitamin supplements to try to compensate for any nutritional gaps (I know, I know). Anyway, right around the time I was in Driver's Ed, I was blushing over every little thing (teacher reminds me to turn off the blinker, I blush, and so on). And it once they were there, the blushes took forever to clear.

Niacin. 400% of the suggested daily dose of niacin, thanks to the combination of vitamins I was taking. I stopped taking them, and the blushes were no longer an issue.
posted by lily_bart at 1:19 PM on July 28, 2011

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