Fear of Blushing

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Fear of blushing is affecting my job

March 2009

I have an intense fear of blushing, because I blush very easily and often people point it out. It's so bad that the anticipation of blushing causes me to blush, and the self-consciousness this brings on has turned into a phobia where I really start to get stage fright -- a fight or flight panic attack-like feeling. It's gotten so serious that I cannot handle certain situations at work and continually have to dodge certain situations. It's affecting my career and my self-esteem. I am so unhappy with this condition, that I started looking on the internet. I found out that not only is there a name for this phobia (Erythrophobia), but there are many others who suffer from it too, and many sites offering a variety of ways to ''cure'' it.

One of the most drastic is an operation to stop the blood flow. (This site http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/750813.stm says ''The new keyhole surgery involves making an incision in the armpit and severing a nerve in the sympathetic nervous system. This stops the patient feeling anxious and therefore they no longer blush.'' Is this safe? Other sites suggest a drug cure (Eredicane). Does anyone know about this drug or it's side effects from personal experience? Other sites promise effective treatment with home study CD and self-hypnosis. Has anyone suffered from this problem and actually found a treatment that they can recommend?

Erythrophobia Sufferer

I'm so sorry you're having this problem. It sounds like you're stuck in a terrible cycle here. As someone who has had periodic trouble with blushing--periods of a few years when it's bad, and then it fades, and then the problem comes back--as well as anxiety, I can relate. I suggest you look into cognitive behavioral therapy, where you will learn how to break this anxiety cycle and normalize some of your thinking about blushing. They will help you identify your anxiety triggers and examine the irrational thoughts you're having about blushing. Because really, blushing is no big deal. As you recognize, things are getting out of control in your life about this issue. I personally recommend Elke Zuercher-White, PhD, who practices in Daly City and does group and individual sessions, but there are many cognitive behavioral therapists around. Turning pink just thinking about blushing

I felt sad when I read your post. Your fear is fear. Fear is an emotion not a medical condition. Your blushing is a reaction/reflex. All of your thoughts, body sensations and emotional charge once you start to blush are a reaction/reflex. As an experiment how about trying to ''observe'' what is going on in your body when you have this reaction. Rather than getting stuck in your well worn mental groove (all of the thoughts that you have about how you are self conscious, how you wish no one noticed, how you wish it would go away or be different) how about, just as an experiment, turning your attention to your body sensations. What does your belly feel like when you blush? What does your throat feel like? What else can you feel in your body other than the sensation of blood in your face and the heat? Get out of your head and into your body. If you can shift your relationship to your blushing, your blushing reaction will change. How about curiosity rather than what you normally do and think? a blusher

Hi. It doesn't seem that you've seen a doctor or counselor to talk about this issue yet. The surgery sounds drastic, I'd work through all sorts of less drastic means. I blush very easily and it can be very embarrasing. For example yesterday at work I had a tense meeting with some unhappy customers. It was a situation where I had to be assertive with them and back myself up, while being professional of course. My biggest fear was that I would blush because If I blush it would make it look like I've lost my cool, even though I'm keeping my cool otherwise (voice steady not getting emotional or weird body language or anything). I've been there. Too compound things, I have roseacea and blushing is a trigger- so if I blush I generally get an outbreak afterwards- a double whammy. I'd check in with a doc or dermalogist and see if there are other means to deal with this (my rosecea medicine seems to help prevent the blushing somehow), and talk to a counselor, if you have so much fear that that in itself brings on the blushing , that sounds like an anxiety disorder, and there are so many tools to deal with that and work through that- that don't involve going under the knife. Hang in there. you're not alone. blushamatic blusher

I could have written your post a few years ago. My blushing was out of control and I was getting desperate to the point of looking up info on treatments (I considered Botox injections because I read it might stop the sweating that accompanied my anxiety attacks). I encourage you to try other options before resorting to the drugs or surgery you mention in your post. Those might help the symptom but you need to look at what's behind your blushing. For me, it was high anxiety and low self esteem. I was in college and grad school and expecting a great deal from myself. I developed intense anxiety and over the years as I worked in retail and dealt w/ people all the time, the blushing got bad. What helped me: ''The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook'' by Bourne; cognitive behavioral therapy; having understanding and supportive people around; getting active/ comfortable with one's body (having a baby actually did wonders for me); reading books on Zen and mindfulness; self-hypnosis classes; Toastmasters International (this was scary at first but it was a HUGE help). There is no quick fix for something like this. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself. Find the combination of therapies and/ or lifestyle adjustments that fit you. I wish you the best, your post has really been on my mind. Please know you're not alone. Been There

I could have written your post, I didn't know that there was somebody who felt exactly like me! I'm sorry - I know what you are going through, it can be a nightmare. It greatly affected my career as I avoided all situations and declined promotions due to this. I didn't realize there was surgery to help with this or even a name to the fear. I always used avoidance but then I had a situation that required I go through a 6 week training with lots of little presentations and the only way to get out of it would have been quit my job so I went to a psychiatrist to find out how to approach this. We did 2 things - prescriptions for praxil and propranolol which is a beta blocker. I used a very low dose of a beta blocker when I knew I'd have to give a presentation - it's not like a sedative, it's more like it blocks out any feelings of nervousness - you feel the same as always but you just can't feel any feelings of nervousness so that gave me a lot of confidence - it's great. But since I didn't want to take it everyday (I happen to already have low blood pressure) it only helped when I used it. By also taking a very low dose of Paxil, that helped remove my feelings of self-consciousness and fear of blushing however ultimately I didn't like the side affects such as sexual dysfunction. The other short term solution I resorted to one time was sitting out in the sun during lunch hour the day before a big meeting and getting s little sunburn, that of course covered the blushing and I casually mentioned my sunburn. God how embarrassing to admit but I was desperate. The long and short of it is that I did not find a long term solution except changing careers to one where I spent my day in my car, this made me MUCH happier but I still had a least 3-4 meetings a year to get through but could with the beta blocker. Nevertheless, I had to decline all promotions as they would have required more meetings. Sorry, no long term answers but if it's any consolation, you have a blushing soul mate out there who knows exactly what you are going through! anon