Q | My face turns red when I exercise. Why does this happen? Is it normal — or is it something to be concerned about?
A | Though there are a number of reasons your face may turn red, it’s most likely a normal side effect of your body’s internal cooling system.
When you exercise, blood flow increases to the periphery of the body to “reduce core temperature, so that the brain, heart, and liver don’t get too hot,” explains Carl Thornfeldt, MD, dermatologist and coauthor of the book The New Ideal in Skin Health. The same cooling mechanism that makes you sweat also dilates your blood vessels, which is what creates redness in the skin.
While exercise alone can make you a bit flushed, there are other factors that can influence how red you get. If you have a condition like rosacea or have suffered damage from allergies or prolonged sun exposure, your skin may be more prone to turning red.
Genetics also play a role: People of northern European descent are most prone to redness because their fair skin lacks pigment that might mask redness.
Hot weather can be another culprit. In fact, flushed skin could be a sign of heat stroke, so make sure to stay hydrated, wear moisture-wicking clothing, and relegate your outdoor training to cooler times of day, such as early morning or dusk.