Why Do I Get Really Red When I Workout?

You may have noticed that your skin turns red when you workout. This is called vasodilation, and it’s a completely normal response to exercise.

Causes of Redness

When we work out, our bodies heat up as a result of increased metabolism and oxygen supply. This causes our blood vessels to dilate and allows more blood to flow close to the surface of our skin. This influx of blood causes the skin to become red or flushed. Let’s explore some of the common causes of redness during a workout.

Exercise-induced vasodilation

Exercise-induced vasodilation (EIV) is the body’s natural response to exercise and can result in physical signs like redness, flushing and increased temperature. EIV is caused by a number of different physiological processes, including increased blood flow to the skin, constriction and expansion of surface capillaries, release of histamine (an inflammatory agent released by the body when exercising) and activation the sympathetic nervous system. Each of these responses triggers the signals at work behind the visible physical symptoms.

The most commonly observed symptom of EIV is an increase in redness throughout the body—especially in areas where there are a lot of blood vessels close to the surface such as around your face, chest, upper arms and legs. This typically occurs after engaging in intense exercise for extended periods lasting more than 30 minutes but can happen even with short bursts during multiple sets or short intervals. Other physical signs may include feeling hot or flushed and intense itching or hives due to histamine release. In addition to signifying that your body is working hard during exercise, EIV can actually be beneficial as it helps regulate temperature elevation while exercising and increases oxygen delivery to active muscles.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions are a possible cause of redness when working out. This type of reaction includes signs and symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, hives, flushed or pale skin, dryness in the mouth and throat, and swelling of the eyes, face lips or tongue. Allergic reactions are caused by exposure to allergens such as pollens, food additives or dust mites.

In addition to redness due to an allergic reaction, there may also be itchy and/or watery eyes. If a person experiences any of these symptoms after exercising outdoors, they should speak to their healthcare provider about their concerns as soon as possible for a correct diagnosis. Treatment may involve avoiding certain foods or taking medications like antihistamines in order to help reduce inflammation and discomfort from allergies.

Heat sensitivity

Heat sensitivity is a common cause of redness that occurs as a result of working out. When we exercise and build up body heat, our bodies produce more blood vessels to allow more heat to escape from skin surfaces. This increased blood flow brings fresh blood to the area, which can lead to visible redness. Some people are more prone to this than others because of genetic differences in their ability to tolerate heat and sweat production. If you’re susceptible to heat sensitivity and the associated redness, it’s important to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise in order to stay hydrated. Additionally, exercising in cooler temperatures or wearing moisture-wicking clothing can help lessen the degree of redness you may experience while working out.


First and foremost, it’s important to recognize why your skin turns red when you work out. In most cases, the redness is caused by increased blood flow to your muscles. This reaction is your body’s way of delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, allowing you to continue exercising. But in some cases, the redness can become too much. Here’s what you can do to prevent it.

Wear breathable fabrics

One important measure you can take to reduce the amount of redness on your skin is to choose the right fabric while working out. Wear breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that allow your body to maintain a comfortable temperature as you exercise. Synthetic materials like polyester and spandex are great for keeping you cool and dry, but natural materials like cotton make for great casual exercises. Avoid thick fabrics, as they do not allow good air circulation and can make you very hot. Take note of the material’s color too – dark colors absorb heat more quickly than light colors. You could also opt for a combination of synthetic and natural fabrics to balance comfort with performance.

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated while working out is essential to managing the symptoms of exercise-induced skin flushing. Proper hydration helps your body cool down and prevents overheating, which can lead to skin redness and intense flushing episodes. Drink plenty of water before and during your workouts, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you feel thirsty, you are probably dehydrated. Aim to drink 12-16 ounces of water about a half hour before you exercise and sip on at least 8-10 ounces of water throughout your workout routine. Additionally, consider incorporating electrolyte drinks into your hydration routine as they can help facilitate better absorption of fluids when you sweat a lot.

Avoid triggers

When it comes to preventing exercise-induced flushing, avoiding triggers is key. There are several specific triggers that may cause increased redness during activity. It’s important to identify any personal risk factors and take extra precautions in order to avoid the onset of an episode of blushing.

-High temperatures: Activity in warmer climates can trigger an increase in redness. Whenever possible, try to workout in cooler environments or during cooler parts of the day.
-High humidity levels: Humidity can have a significant impact on how much your body warms up during activities. If possible, exercising early in the morning or late at night can give you better control over your environment and can help keep your body cooler while you exercise.
-Overexertion: Pushing yourself too hard is likely to increase your core body temperature, leading to more extreme bouts of redness after activity has ceased. Moderating how hard you work out and taking more frequent breaks as needed can help minimize episodes of flushing may be beneficial for those suffering from exercise induced flushing.
-Spicy foods: Eating spicy food right before exercise can raise core body temperature and lead to episodes of increased redness after activities have stopped. Avoiding spicy food at least two hours before exercising is strongly recommended if you want to reduce post workout flushing symptoms.


When you exercise, the body releases adrenaline and histamine which cause your blood vessels to dilate, resulting in the redness of your skin. While the redness is usually harmless and not threatening to your health, some people find it unsightly. Fortunately, there are treatments available to reduce the redness associated with exercise. In this section, we will explore the different treatments that are available to help reduce the amount of redness experienced when exercising.

Cool down

After a strenuous workout, it is important to cool down in order to reduce the body’s temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. Cooling down brings the body back to its pre-exercise state. During this time you should slowly reduce the intensity of your exercise until your breathing and heart rate return back to normal.

Cooling down not only helps prevent stress on your cardiovascular system and muscles, but it may also reduce post-exercise soreness as it helps flush out metabolic waste from your muscles. Ideally, cooling down should last about five minutes and consist of slower-paced movements such as jogging or brisk walking. This will allow for any postural imbalances that may have arisen during exercise to correct themselves by readjusting the muscle lengths around the joint during movement. Additionally, cooling down can help promote relaxation after a workout since it gives you time to gradually lower your activity level before stopping entirely.

Apply a cold compress

When your skin turns red due to exercise, it is a result of increased blood flow to your muscles, which causes the capillaries near the skin’s surface to become dilated. To reduce the redness, you can apply cold compresses to the affected area for about 10 minutes at a time throughout the day. This will help constrict your capillaries and reduce inflammation so that you can get back to normal faster. You can also try taking a cool shower or bath to help reduce overheating and irritation. Avoid hot showers and steam rooms as these may worsen redness and discomfort from exercise-induced skin flushing.

Take an antihistamine

Taking an antihistamine can be a helpful solution for those experiencing redness after physical activity. Antihistamines work by preventing the release of histamines, which are chemicals that cause inflammation. Therefore, if you take an antihistamine before a workout, it will stop your body from creating inflammation and consequently limit how much you blush during your exercise routine. However, it is important to note that using antihistamine medication is generally not recommended before physical activity as it may also have side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness. If you decide to try this approach, make sure to discuss possible risks with your health care provider before doing so.

When to Seek Medical Help

Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, however if you start to experience sudden and intense redness or flushing when you work out, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. It is important to know when to seek medical help if you are experiencing this symptom during exercise. In this article, we will discuss when to seek medical help in the event of redness and flushing during exercise.

Signs of anaphylaxis

If you’re having an allergic reaction during a workout, it is important to recognize the signs of anaphylaxis – a life-threatening condition caused by a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention, and can be identified by the following symptoms:

-Sudden onset of itching and hives (raised, red skin welts)
-Swollen lips, tongue, throat or other body parts
-Difficulty in breathing due to swelling of the airways or bronchospasm (spasming muscles in the walls of the breath passages)
-Dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting
-Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
-Low blood pressure (hypotension) that can lead to shock
If any of these symptoms occur during a workout session involving an allergen exposure (e.g., food intolerance, airborne allergens such as pollen), seek medical help immediately.

Difficulty breathing

If you experience difficulty breathing when working out, it is important to seek medical help right away. Difficulty breathing can be a sign of cardiovascular distress and urgent medical attention is needed to prevent further complications. Make sure you communicate any symptoms you are experiencing to the attending physician, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem.

As with all exercise, start your workout routine slowly and work your way up, increasing time, intensity and frequency over time. This helps prevent any lasting damage or injury from overexertion. However, if you begin to experience difficulty breathing after light physical activity or if the activity worsens preexisting conditions then it may be time to consult a doctor before continuing with higher intensity workouts.

Signs of difficulty breathing include: feeling out of breath when walking up stairs or inclines, labored breathing and an increase in heart rate during physical activities that should be manageable at the current fitness level. If you notice any signs of respiratory distress while exercising seek medical attention as soon as possible so they can provide the necessary treatment and advice on how to adjust your routine going forward safely.

Severe swelling

When engaging in exercise, some level of redness or flushing is normal due to increased blood flow. However, if you experience severe redness that lasts longer than expected or is accompanied by swelling, heat, and pain in a particular area, it may be an indication of a more serious medical condition.

It is important to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms alongside prominent or increased redness and swelling: fever, pain that does not seem connected to activity levels, and the presence of infection or drainage from the location where the redness persists. These can indicate a possible underlying illness such as an autoimmune disorder or skin condition that should be addressed with professional help.

Other potential medical concerns can arise from severe swelling following exercise as well. For example, an increase in joint size that lasts more than 24 hours may be indicative of a musculoskeletal injury like soft tissue trauma or inflammation. If you have pre-existing conditions such as arthritis and are experiencing joint pain when working out, it could be a sign of further damage to existing cartilage and tissue that should be evaluated by your doctor immediately.

In short, when engaging in regular physical activity it is important to listen carefully to both your body and any changes happening beneath your skin so that you can take proactive steps towards managing potential health risks associated with vigorous workouts before they become further complicated. If you experience any undue levels of swelling or redness during physical activity, it’s best to contact a physician for proper diagnosis and advice on returning safely back into exercise.

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