If you leave your gym with your face or other body skin as red as a tomato, you are experiencing flushing, a common side effect that occurs while exercising. However, you notice your workout partner, who did the same exercise as you, did not experience the same level of facial flushing. Knowing why your skin turns red can help you identify when your red skin is cause for concern—and when it is not.
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Your body works to maintain balance—in your blood pressure, heart rate and your body temperature, according to Fit Sugar. When you exercise, you are producing heat and increasing your body temperature. To regulate this temperature, your body signals more blood to flow to the skin’s surface. This actually creates more heat on the skin’s surface—enough heat to be radiated off the skin in order to cool it.
Skin redness during exercise can be easily confused with heat rash as both occur when the body begins to heat. However, a heat rash is characterized by a cluster of pimples or blister-like lesions on the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These lesions most commonly appear on the upper chest and neck, groin, under the breasts and in the elbow creases. Skin flushing and redness due to heat is a more even distribution of redness and is not raised above the skin. This redness typically appears on the face, upper arms and chest.
Sweat and skin redness work together to cool off the skin, according to Net Wellness. When your skin circulation increases, the body must have enough water to produce sweat that can evaporate off the skin. For this reason, it’s important to hydrate before, during and after exercise to ensure skin redness can prove an effective defense mechanism and prevent your body from overheating.
While some degree of skin redness with exercise is normal, if you are outside, this can signal that your body is experiencing heat stress, according to Net Wellness. To treat this condition, you should wear loose, comfortable clothing, seek shade and air conditioning and consume cool beverages to stay hydrated and lower body temperature. You should sip—not chug—this water to avoid giving yourself a stomachache, according to Fit Sugar.
When you experience severe flushing combined with muscle cramps, seek medical treatment, according to Mother Nature, a health and wellness educational website. If your flushing is coupled with dizziness, fever or chills, these also can be signs of a more dangerous condition and should be treated by a medical provider.