What is flushing? Flushing is an involuntary, temporary reddening of the skin, usually of the face. Facial flushing may be accompanied by flushing of the neck or chest. In general, flushing results from dilation of the blood vessels beneath the skin surface. Although flushing is similar to blushing, flushing typically refers to a more pronounced redness of the face than blushing. In most cases, flushing occurs as a normal body response to physical circumstances, including exercise, hot temperatures, or consumption of alcohol or spicy foods. A variety of emotional states, such as anger, sexual arousal, or embarrassment, can also cause flushing. Flushing can also occur as a result of hormonal changes in the menopausal transition, often accompanied by hot flashes, and in pregnancy. Flushing is also seen in conditions in which the body is overheated, such as fever, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Flushing can accompany allergic reactions and inflammatory conditions. Rarely, it may be a symptom of carcinoid syndrome, a condition in which a tumor produces hormones leading to vascular changes and a characteristic flushing that is a hallmark of the disease. Certain medications, such as niacin and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, may be associated with flushing. Flushing alone is rarely a sign of a serious condition and is most often a normal body response to physical or emotional stress. If flushing is accompanied by symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain, seek immediate medical care (call 911). Seek prompt medical care if you have flushing along with fever. If flushing is persistent or causes you concern, contact a medical professional.