Rosy cheeks have long been considered a good thing.
After all, around the world people apply blush or rouge to their cheeks as part of their makeup routine. From enhancing bone structure to making features more prominent, a bit of blush on the cheeks is a popular look for women. While it’s the desired look for some, others can’t wrap their head around why they are always blushing.
There has been the perception that rosy cheeks are a sign of health and beauty. While it can look pretty, it’s not necessarily a sign of health or wellbeing. That doesn’t mean there’s something to worry about either. Redness on the cheeks happens when blood vessels widen near the skin's surface. This can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe your skin is trying to warm itself up when it’s cold outside. It can happen if you’re nervous or embarrassed. It can happen when you’re too warm or going through hot flushes during menopause for example.
There can be lots of reasons behind rosiness on the face. It could be a temporary condition like wind burn, or a signal of a more severe condition.
Should I see a doctor about my facial redness?It can be hard to gauge what’s innocent and what’s a medical concern with facial redness. I get it, no one wants to visit the doctor when they think it’s nothing to worry about. Redness triggered by stress, nervousness or heat can be dealt with at home. However, if you relate to any of the below points it’s worth getting checked out to be on the safe side:
- The redness is persistent after a few weeks
- The redness is annoying you due to its appearance
- It’s painful
- You have bumps, spots or pustules with the redness
- You have other symptoms like sweating or nausea
- If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction such as hives, wheezing, swelling or dizziness
Red cheek causes
If you’ve decided this rosiness on your cheeks is happening a bit too much for your liking, then you should visit your doctor or dermatologist. We’ve put together a bit of a list below of the most likely causes behind your persistent rosy cheeks.
Rosacea and red cheeksWe couldn’t kick off this list with anything other than rosacea. I myself have subtype 1 ETR rosacea, and I know its symptoms all too well.
Rosacea affects 10% of the adult population, and often goes unrecognised and undiagnosed.
It affects the skin by causing redness, visible blood vessels, and/or small acne-like bumps. It mainly occurs on the face, particularly the cheeks and nose.
Rosacea is a complex condition, with 4 different subtypes, and while there is no cure, there are ways to treat and manage the condition. Part of the management of rosacea is using a minimal and natural skincare routine. This is why I have created skincare products specifically for the two main subtypes, ETR rosacea and acne rosacea. All my formulations have one thing in common, a short ingredients list, and all of the ingredients are plant-based, to avoid further irritation to already sensitive skin.
Visit your doctor if you suspect you might have rosacea, or you can find out more about rosacea in our guide here.
Spider veinsAnother thing you might notice on your face along with redness is spider veins sometimes called broken veins. These can often be linked with subtype 1 rosacea but can occur on it’s own too. They can be annoying and unsightly but are typically treatable once you find out the underlying cause. Potential causes of spider veins include rosacea, pregnancy, genetics, weather damage and alcohol consumption. They can be very simply erased using diathemy needle therapy. This is a targeted treatment which effectively blanches the red vein. It can be done by an experienced beauty therapist. It is also relatively inexpensive and painless.
AcneAcne is one of the most common skin issues that people have to deal with at some point. I don’t know many people who have never had to deal with a pimple or two. Acne usually starts with a clog in the pores made up of dead skin, oil or dirt (not the most lovely thought). The trapped offender makes a great host for bacteria which quickly multiply and cause swelling. If this happens a few times at once, you can get the result of acne and this can also manifest as redness on the cheeks.
Acne can show itself in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, papules, nodules and cysts. Much like rosacea, there are different subtypes when it comes to acne and it’s not always straightforward to treat. There can also be some crossover in symptoms between acne and rosacea. Rosacea subtype 2 can often be confused with acne and needs diagnosis by a doctor to confirm which you have as both are treated differently.
Food or drink intolerancesWhat we consume can result in physical reactions in the body. For example, a lot of people tend to get rosy cheeks or a flushed appearance after eating spicy foods. Food intolerances are so personal, with some people unable to eat dairy, wheat, nuts, citrus fruits etc. If you think you have an intolerance it’s best to visit your doctor or nutritionist.
Alcohol can be another culprit. It’s not always food causing the issue, but sometimes it can be liquids as well. Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean alcohol is always to blame. There are also intolerances to milk, soups, sauces etc. But some people do experience flushing after certain alcoholic drinks. There’s an enzyme in alcohol called aldehyde dehydrogenase which is needed for the alcohol to metabolize quickly. In those with a deficiency of this enzyme, alcohol metabolizes slower which causes a buildup of acetaldehyde. This results in blood vessels dilating as well as other symptoms like nausea and headaches. Again, this should really be confirmed by a doctor or allergist.
DermatitisWhile you can suffer from allergies or intolerances to food and drinks, you can also be allergic to things that you touch. This is known as contact dermatitis. With this, the reaction is caused by something externally touching off the skin. When this happens on your cheeks it usually shows itself as redness, irritation or an itchy rash. This could come on suddenly or develop over time. As with most other skin conditions, different people have different triggers. It could be down to fragrances, preservatives or other factors. Once you know that it’s contact dermatitis, there are topical creams you can get to clear it up.
Another form of dermatitis is eczema. The difference here is that eczema isn’t caused by an allergic reaction to touching something, it comes down to genetics. Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis and looks like an itchy red rash. This can affect the face as well as many other areas of the body. Although it’s most common in children, it can come on at any age. If you suffer from asthma or hay fever and get itchy rashes on your cheeks from time to time, eczema could be the cause.
MenopauseDuring menopause, a lot of women experience redness on the face and cheeks in what’s known as a “hot flush”. Women describe this as a feeling of warmth rushing from their chest, to the neck and then to the face. Around 80% of menopausal women report experiencing these. They last for 1-5 minutes and feel like an intense rush of heat. These happen because of hormonal changes in the area of the brain that controls your temperature.
There is no cure for hot flashes unfortunately, but there are things you can do to cool down. Taking deep breaths, sipping on a cold drink or removing layers of clothes can help. If not, you can speak to your doctor about hormone therapy or drugs that could give some relief to you.
There are a couple of different types of autoimmune disorders which can cause flushed cheeks. If you think you have an autoimmune disorder, you’ll have other symptoms and need a proper diagnosis. Autoimmune disorders that can cause facial redness include Lupus and Cushing's Syndrome.
With Lupus, you’ll notice a darker, more purple tone to the redness. There will likely be a rashy feel to it and it could be kind of a butterfly shape across the cheeks. The intensity can vary but it generally doesn’t come and go like other types of flushing. When this flares up it can sometimes resemble sunburn. Lupus is a chronic disease where the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue. It’s complex and can show itself in many ways. This is why some people know it as the “disease of a thousand faces.”
Cushing’s Syndrome on the other hand is a result of the overproduction of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body. While it’s not very common, it’s one to consider if you’ve been on oral steroids for a long period of time. This can show itself in many ways such as facial flushing, upper body weight gain, palpitations and skin which bruises easily. If you’ve been on steroids for a long time and notice your face is red or more puffy than usual it’s worth getting that checked.
If you think your red cheeks are caused by rosacea, you should try to identify what rosacea subtype you are to find the best treatment for it, and always consult a medical professional
Skincare is part of the management of rosacea. With my products, I’ve avoided the use of harmful chemicals and additives, the Finca Skin Organics products are designed to cleanse, protect and soothe while reducing the appearance of redness without creating further irritation.
After using our products, 87% felt the appearance of their skin improved significantly*.
View the range of Finca skin organics products here or find out what rosacea subtype your skin is.
With love from Ireland,
*Clinical evaluation by Harley St. dermatologists on 23 subjects after 8 weeks of use.