Why Does My Face Turn Red When I Run?

Man resting after a run

Sam Edwards / Getty Images

If you are red-faced after running, you are not alone. This is a common issue, especially in women and people with fair skin. When you're running, your body is producing heat. Sweating helps cool you down, and your body also increases blood supply to your skin to help regulate your temperature. Your capillaries dilate so more blood can flow through them and radiate extra heat out through your skin. 


The diameter of the capillaries in the cheeks is wider than elsewhere, and they are closer to the surface. So, when they dilate, there is more red blood coming close to the surface, giving you that rosy red color.

Many runners get red-faced no matter how much their fitness improves (in fact, some research shows that endurance athletes get more flushed, earlier in their workouts than less fit people).

Everyone handles the heat differently, and just as some runners sweat more than others, some get red faces and others don't. Some people naturally have more capillaries.

Others may have capillaries that naturally carry more blood to the face during exertion. Either way, they are more prone to having a red face from exercise.

Running in Hot Weather

You may find that you get redder if you're doing an intense run or running in hot or humid weather. During warm weather, try to run early in the morning or later in the evening (or indoors if it's really hot).

Also, make sure you're staying hydrated during your runs and drinking when you're thirsty. Try pouring water on your head, neck, and under your arms to cool off.

If you're experiencing other symptoms besides a red face, like dizziness or nausea, you may be suffering from a heat-related illness, such as dehydration, heat stroke, or heat exhaustion. Stop running immediately, sip some water, and get in the shade.

Duration of Flushing

Most flushing caused by exertion will last no more than 15 to 20 minutes. There is not much you can do to speed the process, but you can try.

How to Reduce Flushing

  • Spritz or dab cold water on your face during your workout
  • Cool down adequately to reduce your heart rate
  • Take a cold shower, wash your face with cold water, or use a face wipe (some contain aloe to soothe your skin and caffeine to constrict blood vessels) post-workout
  • Moisturize your face after you wash it; try an anti-redness or sensitive skin formula
  • Apply green color-correcting primer followed by a tinted moisturizer

When to Talk to A Health Care Practitioner

Although a red face while running is usually harmless, you should still mention it to your health care provider, especially if you're brand-new to running or exercising. If you have other symptoms such as diarrhea, wheezing, hives or difficulty breathing, it could be the sign of a more serious condition.

Note whether you are experiencing flushing in other circumstances. Is it worse with certain foods, or if you drink alcohol? Discuss any connections you've noticed with your health care provider.

If the flushing lasts for more than half an hour after you exercise, or goes away and comes back later in the day, it could be a sign of rosacea. If that's the case, treatment is available.

Some medications, including acne creams like benzoyl peroxide and some antibiotics and high blood pressure medicines, may cause flushing or make it worse. In addition, phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE 5) including sildenafil (Viagra, Revatio), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and tadalafil (Adcirca) may also cause flushing. PDE 5 medications are used to treat pulmonary hypertension and erectile dysfunction.

It also may help to avoid topical treatments that irritate the skin (like retinol or chemical peels) the night before you have a long run or intense workout planned.

A Word From Verywell

If you've been assured you are healthy and you still have that red glow, wear it with pride. Yes, it can be annoying when passersby keep asking if you are all right when you just completed a tough workout and are bright red in the face, however, it will eventually subside.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Simmons GH, Wong BJ, Holowatz LA, Kenney WL. Changes in the control of skin blood flow with exercise training: where do cutaneous vascular adaptations fit in? Experimental physiology. 2011;96(9):822. doi:10.1113/expphysiol.2010.056176

  2. Hayashi N, Kashima H, Ikemura T. Facial blood flow responses to dynamic exercise. Int J Sports Med. 2021;42(3):241-245. doi:10.1055/a-1244-9870

  3. Morris A, Patel G. Heat stroke. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022.

  4. Seeley AD, Giersch GEW, Charkoudian N. Post-exercise body cooling: skin blood flow, venous pooling, and orthostatic intolerance. Front Sports Act Living. 2021;0. doi:10.3389/fspor.2021.658410

  5. Huang SA, Lie JD. Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) Inhibitors In the management of erectile dysfunctionP T. 2013;38(7):407–419.

Additional Reading

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.