Why A Top Derm Says I Get Red Face From Exercise

Weights. Cardio. Spin class. Or HIIT class. No matter what I do, I’m left with a red face from exercise. I finally have a reason why.

red face from exercise, fitness-related rosaceaillustration credit: shutterstock

Anyone else get red face from exercise?

Gym selfies? Sweaty Selfie? No thanks. My face gets so red after I work out. And not like a normal-person red. But a bright, inflamed, someone-get-her-help red.

The strange part: My neck remains its normal colour and the same with the rest of my body. There is a distinct line on my chin. I was recently told that I might have fitness-related rosacea. And the sign: Only my face gets red.

Dr. Benjamin Barankin, Toronto dermatologist and spokesperson, Acne and Rosacea Society of Canada, rosaceahelp.ca, says that it’s a particular type of rosacea I could have: vascular rosacea, which is rosacea limited to the face.

Triggers for red face from exercise

Exercise isn’t the only culprit. Eating hot and spicy foods, drinking a hot beverage can also result in vascular rosacea, says Barankin. Stress, too much sun or wind and alcohol are other triggers for rosacea.

Another issue, my pale skin. (Thanks mom and dad!)

“Rosacea is more common in fair-skinned individuals, and in particular people from England, Ireland and Eastern Europe,” he says. Originally, I’m from Newfoundland with Irish roots.

“It typically starts showing up after age 30 and is considered a chronic condition; up to 50 per cent of patients have or will develop involvement of their eyes.”

While I only get flushed, it can also result in pimples and pustules in some people.

Red face from exercise hints at other health issues

The insight that I find curious is this: “More recently, rosacea has been associated with other conditions including migraines, inflammatory bowel disease, and cardiovascular disease.”

I do get migraines. But I’m finding it happening less as I get older. It’s like my red skin has swapped roles with my migraines, as I get red face from exercise more often than I do migraines.

Turns out my fitness rosacea is more than a headache. It is a headache.