Similarly, anything spicy containing capsaicin (a compound found in chili peppers and hot sauces) can not only make you desperately reach for a glass of water or milk, but may also trigger an inflammatory response in the skin that can cause redness and contribute to rosacea flare-ups (we’ll get into that shortly).8
How to treat it: No, you don’t have to completely change your diet. Any blushing resulting from a glass of wine, say, or Vindaloo chicken curry is pretty short-term, but if it’s something that concerns you, maybe don’t overload on spicy noodles or hot wings every day (or on a, um, hot date), Dr. Hoss suggests.
If you feel like your face is in permanent blush mode, you might be dealing with a more chronic inflammatory condition called rosacea. While experts still don’t know the exact cause, research has shown that genetics, along with environmental triggers (like certain foods, weather, exercise, and sun exposure), can make some people’s skin bright red with an accompanying burning, stinging, or itching sensation.9 In Rosacea Type 2 (a subtype of the condition), inflamed pimples, pustules, and/or papules that don’t respond to typical acne treatments are also part of the problem.10
The biggest difference between rosacea and regular old rosy cheeks is whether or not the redness is symptomatic, according to Dr. Bodemer. For example, do you also experience itching? Burning? Stinging? Tenderness? “People with rosacea tend to also have really sensitive skin, so they’re also much more prone to developing irritation or allergic reactions to common skin care products,” she explains. If this sounds like you, book an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist, if you can, who can formally diagnose you and suggest tailored solutions, Dr. Bodmer advises.
How to treat it: Rosacea is chronic and there aren’t any known cures that will keep the flush away for good. That said, there are some ways to reduce the frequency of flare-ups and relieve the condition’s uncomfortable symptoms.
For example, you might want to “avoid common triggers like excessive sunlight, spicy foods, or red wine,” all of which can temporarily worsen redness and burning, Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, board-certified dermatologist and associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, tells SELF.10 What makes one person with rosacea flush may not affect someone else the same way (and vice versa), however, so Dr. Lipner also suggests paying attention to any specific foods, drinks, or environmental changes that affect your complexion.