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You Asked: Why the Red Face When Running?

Hey FitSugar,
Per my New Year's resolution, I've started and managed to keep running in 2009. I used to run cross country and track in high school, about 10 years ago, but now I've noticed one big change — my face gets beet red when I run. It looks like a red mask. The redness stays just on my face and doesn't go down my neck or up into my scalp. Do you have any idea what is going on? Is there something I can do to prevent this or is it no big deal? Thanks in advance for your advice and help!
— Red Faced Runner

Having a pink flush to your face is a tell-tale sign that you've been working out, but it sounds like your skin flushes to a hue beyond pink. To see what's going on with your skin,


When you work out, your body produces heat. One way that your body ensures it doesn't overheat is by sweating, of course. But your body also increases blood circulation to the skin's surfaces, so the heat can be radiated off — smart body. Warm, oxygenated blood rushes to your face, turning it that bright red color. It's receiving lots of healthy blood, bringing nutrients to your skin and carrying away toxins. In medical speak, this phenomenon is known as vasodilation. Drinking an adequate amount of water before and during exercise may help reduce the redness by ensuring you're hydrated enough to sweat to properly cool yourself down.

Your face turning red is really no big deal unless you are also experiencing dizziness, fatigue, or nausea, which indicate that you may be in danger of becoming overheated. If that's the case, stop exercising immediately and get out of the sun if you are running outside. Be sure to drink plenty of cool water, too.


blacklisted blacklisted 8 years
I'm super pale, and this happened to me all throughout high school. Once I realized I needed WAY more water before and during workouts than I had been drinking, the redness almost completely went away AND my workouts got much, much easier. I usually drink a liter or a liter and a half of water before I hop on the treadmill, and drink another one during my hour workout.
cotedazur cotedazur 8 years
i turn red when i run, but the worst is when i'm swimming because it's harder to cool off with a rubber swim cap on your head -- one of my teammates calls my skin color "hot pink"
delightfairy delightfairy 8 years
I turn red when I run. Oh I hate it :D
Soniabonya Soniabonya 8 years
i always turn red even without working out :( It drives me nuts because even if I just walk fast down the hall of my house I can feel my face burning up and I turn red. I turn red when I straighten my hair. I turn red sitting in front of the TV!! boo.
nikkisoda nikkisoda 8 years
Finally! Geez I thought I was the only one. I think I am in great shape but every time I run, bam red! I used to get embarrassed because so many people would ask me if I was okay but now I'm just like who cares. What sucks about it is that I always stretch after a good run which includes having my head hang upside down. We all know what happens even brighter hugh of red. Fabulous. =) It's just nice to know that it is normal. I too have fair skin and blush very easily so it does make sense that I would get red while working out.
GratefulGrl80 GratefulGrl80 8 years
this happens to me every time i work out! i too am glad i'm not the only one :) it sounds like it's kind of good for your skin though, so that's a plus!
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 8 years
sometimes it happens to me and sometimes it doesn't - weird.
plus_2_kid plus_2_kid 8 years
these comments are hilarious and I'm so glad to know I'm not the only one!!
caryatid caryatid 8 years
ha, i am also a member of the red faced club. i love when after a good workout i am all refreshed and happy and people look at me like i'm dying... hooray....
amybdk amybdk 8 years
This happens to me big time! I never used to mind until I started running during my lunch break. Now I come back all red in the face and everyone is always asking "Are you ok? You're so red!"
aeschere aeschere 8 years
it's for this reason that i hate people seeing me at the gym.. even my boyfriend. it's embarrassing. splashing cold water on my face helps.. takes some of the heat away! the vasodilation will go away once your body believes it's temp is normal again :)
gypsyoflove gypsyoflove 8 years
It could also be rosacea. The same thing happened to me 10 years ago, and I ignored it. Then I started to break out and had it checked. Now it has worsened and the more I work out, the more frequent the flushing and break outs.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
Oh and I'm not alone! Yippie. I don't look good after a workout either. It's actually one of the reasons I don't work out at a gym and prefer to work out at home. I have had people come up to me and ask if I'm okay because I turn so red. It's nice, but annoying after a while.
jdeprima jdeprima 8 years
Me too; I just received a finish-line snapshot from the 8K race I ran over the weekend. I wasn't all that fatigued, but it looks like my head was about to explode!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
This happens to me too and I also thought it was just because I had fair skin. I've found that as I've gotten more in shape, the redness does go away a bit faster now. When I was really out of shape, I'd work out for only about 30 minutes and I'd be red for 5 or 6 hours later.
ChristinaVal ChristinaVal 8 years
This happens to me too! I figured it was the pale skin, but tlsgirl you're right, I look like a train wreck when I leave the gym! haha!!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i'm so glad that someone asked about this - i have the same thing happen and i really never knew what the reason was - just that i hated when it happened
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
I always wondered this...
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
This happens to me too, and for some reason seems to increase for a few minutes after I stop exercising. I am definitely not one of those girls that still manages to look semi-cute when leaving the gym.
ladyr ladyr 8 years
This happens to me all the time no matter how much water I drink. It's that Irish skin for me too mamasita. I get soooo red. When I played a lot of outdoor sports, people used to always come up to me and say "Oh my gosh, do you have any sunscreen? You are getting so burned!" even thought I was wearing sunscreen and I wasn't burning at all.
PeruvianPrincess PeruvianPrincess 8 years
This happens to me everytime I run! I'm glad it's no big deal.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
same with me starangel! I have pale Irish skin and start to get red in the fact (and neck/chest) with slight heat, working out you can definitely see it on my face!
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
I have always done this with any kind of physical exertion. I turn beet red from the neck up and sweat like crazy. I always thought it was because I was fair skinned. Nice to know it's a little more technical than that.
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