Overcoming Severe Blush

Posted: 03/05/2012

Individuals with severe rosacea are often anxious about the social consequences of blushing and may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, according to a recent study in the journal Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy.1

To evaluate the psychological and social impacts of rosacea, 23 women and eight men who had been diagnosed with rosacea completed five questionnaires: the Blushing Propensity Scale, the Fear of Negative Evaluation Questionnaire, the Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, the Social Interaction Anxiety Scale and the Social Phobia Scale, according to researchers Dr. Daphne Su and Dr. Peter Drummond, Murdoch University, Perth, Australia. Nineteen were rated as having mild rosacea and 12 were rated as having severe rosacea. The questionnaires were also completed by 86 control subjects without rosacea.

The scores for blushing propensity, stress and social phobia were found to be higher in individuals with severe rosacea compared with those with mild rosacea or those in the control group. The investigators noted that the patients with high blushing propensity scores did not necessarily experience greater increases in facial blood flow than others in embarrassing situations, but instead were more self-conscious about their appearance.

The researchers reported that fear of blushing was so debilitating in three participants that they sought psychological assistance because of concerns about being regarded unfavorably in work or social settings. Each of the three appeared to benefit from cognitive-behavioral techniques, including relaxation training, which helped them reduce heightened heart rate, shift attention to other parts of the body and feel an overall sense of control. These positive results suggest that further studies on the benefits of psychotherapy are warranted, the researchers said.


1. Su D, Drummond PD. Blushing propensity and psychological distress in people with rosacea. Clin Psychol Psychother 23 June 2011 doi:10.1002/cpp.763.

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