What Does it Mean if My Face Gets Very Red and Hot During Exercise?

Active tired blonde catching her breath
A woman is out of breath from exercising. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Getting a red face during exercise is as normal as sweating for some people. In most cases, a red face following exercise is perfectly normal and no cause for concern. It is more prevalent in people with fair skin and is just part of your genetic make-up. The amount of time it takes for your face to return to normal also varies between individuals. Factors like fitness level and the intensity of the exercise will also affect the level of redness.

Exertion and Circulation

When you begin exercising, many changes take place inside your body. You breathe more quickly and your lungs work harder to provide the bloodstream with more oxygen. Your heart rate increasea as your heart works harder to increase the blood flow to the muscles that you are working. So that your cardiovascular system can work harder, small blood vessels and capillaries widen to deliver the oxygen to the muscles and remove waste products. This widening is called vasodilation and makes your face redden as more blood is being carried by the capillaries beneath your skin.

Heat Dissipation Through Vasodilation

As you exercise and work your muscles, your body temperature increases. The dilated blood vessels carry an increased blood flow to your skin where it transfers heat to your surroundings to prevent you from overheating. You also sweat to cool down. Both of these factors can lead to a red face, and you can expect your face to get redder when exercising in hot weather than in cool weather. However, if a flushed face is also combined with dizziness, nausea or fatigue, it could be due to other reasons and you should stop exercising immediately.

Other Causes of Redness

A red face during exercise can be normal for many people, but if it is accompanied by a dry mouth, thirst and dizziness, it can be a sign of dehydration. This can lead to hyperthermia or heatstroke which is a serious medical problem. Symptoms of hyperthermia can include a red face; dizziness; nausea; fast, shallow breathing; vomiting; and a fast heart rate. If your red face is accompanied by these symptoms or by lightheadedness, heart palpitations or difficulty breathing, then you should see a medical professional. The skin condition rosacea can also be exacerbated by exercise, making your face redder.

Toning Down the Red

While you are unlikely to stop your face from getting red when you exercise, there are preventative measures you can take to minimize the redness. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and exercise in a cool environment. If you exercise outdoors, avoid the middle of the day and early afternoon during the summer months, as keeping your body temperature low can minimize the redness. Wear loose-fitting clothing and reduce the intensity of the workout to reduce redness.

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