I come from splotchy people.
I’ve always been flattered when people compliment my skin. (I grow it myself!) I was unaware I had good skin until several people told me I did, so I will take their word for it. However, the problem with this pale complexion is that it also came with the tendency to turn red and splotchy in these situations:
- When I speak in public
- When I drink
- When I drink and speak in public (I’d assume, though I’ve never tested that one.)
- In social situations, particularly when I’m meeting someone new
- At the teeny, tiniest increase in my stress level
- Just for kicks for seemingly no reason at all
I get it from my Mom’s side of the family, and it affects my brothers too. When my Mom sewed her wedding dress she purposely designed it so her upper chest was covered because that gets splotchy too. (Let’s also give my mom props for her mad sewing skillz. It’s a lost art, people.) Usually an attack of the splotches is just embarrassing for me, but sometimes it gets so bad that the people around me want to call 911, shove antihistamines down my throat, or grab an EpiPen because they think I’m having an allergic reaction. That’s not an exaggeration.
The fact that patches of my face become red and not my whole face makes it seem more like the sign of a medical emergency. Last year I went to a raw food restaurant with a few friends, and we were chatting and chewing and slowly people started giving me strange looks. Finally someone asked if I was ok, and I said, “Yeah, I’m fine. Why are you asking?” To which someone replied, “You’re head has been replaced with a GIANT TOMATO!” I told them I was fine and sometimes I just get splotchy, but they are my friends and they didn’t want me to keel over dead during lunch, which would have been really bad press for the restaurant and certainly would have ruined everyone’s appetites. So someone gave me an antihistamine, which I dutifully swallowed. Then I went to the restroom to see what they were overreacting about and when I looked in the mirror I was like, “OMG my head has been replaced with a GIANT TOMATO!” And I finally understood why they were freaking out.
I blamed the red-faced, raw food incident on some sort of allergy to whatever I ate, but honestly I think it happened because I was really tired, hungry and had to wait 45 minutes for a meal which was waaaaay smaller than I’d anticipated. All those factors swirled together in a stress tornado which triggered by faux sunburn.
My splotchy face was triggered again a year later with the same group of friends after I drank a shot of bubble-gum flavored vodka. I don’t drink much, but when alcohol is flavored like candy I will happily step up to the bar, and then turn the color of bubble-gum. And again, they freaked out, but I avoided taking an antihistamine that time. I should probably carry a MedicAlert bracelet that says, “Sometimes I get splotchy. Don’t freak out.”
Another time I was at my neurologist’s and he said, “Got some sun, did you?” in that great accent he has. I did not know how to reply to this until he told me my face was all red. Then he ordered an autoimmune blood test for me because even doctors are freaked out by my face. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t the side effect of some illness because he was really thorough like that. I’m also fairly certain the headache preventative medicine I take makes me more prone to outbreaks because they’ve been more frequent in the past few years.
The red face also appears in social situations where I might be even a little stressed out. I had a friend over to my apartment a few years ago and all we did was watch TV and still the red face appeared. And two days ago I was talking to my paleobiologist bagpiper neighbor who likes Star Wars (I ain’t making that up because I am not that creative) about splitting my wireless internet bill with him if I gave him my network pass code. After he left I went to the bathroom and saw that my face was totally splotchy, so he probably thinks I have the pox or something, which is too bad because I kinda’ dug him, which is probably why I got splotchy. I probably shouldn’t date a neighbor anyway because if it goes bad one of us would have to move, or I’d have to adapt an ingenious disguise every time I came or went from my apartment.
After the incident with my neighbor I realized I will probably break out into the splotches during my “Design 101” presentation at FitBloggin’ this weekend. So now I need to make a note in my PowerPoint slides to tell people not to freak out when their speaker is replaced with a talking tomato halfway through the session. If not, I fear I will slowly notice more and more faces adopt expressions of concern while I talk about the evils of autoplaying music. On the positive side, this might also allow me to fake a fit and collapse on stage if I sense the presentation is not going well.
Anyway, I don’t know if there’s much that I can do about this other than do those breathing exercises my behavioral psychologist taught me and try not to freak the hell out. I remember hearing about some sort of surgery where they can sever a nerve which is supposed to fix the problem of chronic blushing, but that seems rather severe and I hate to undergo surgery unless it’s really necessary. (Or if it will give me perfect vision.)
So, if you ever see me and it looks like a monkey applied blush on my face in the dark, don’t freak out and please don’t call 911 (unless I faint).
I am a splotchy blusher too. I hate it. I also hate autoplay music on blogs. i think we could be friends
Blond, pale, and splotchy here! What ticks me off is that it happens in any and all public speaking events even when I am not at all nervous. I can be confident as all hell and still get the huge red patches on my chest and neck. I hated finishing a presentation and hearing, “I could tell you were really nervous because you were all red.” Autonomic reaction!! Not my fault!! Although, I’ll admit, alcohol doesn’t help.
I too am a splotchy person. If I rest my face in my hand, I can be assured that the next person I talk to will ask me if I’ve been beaten.
And as much as I sympathize, I’m a little relieve that it isn’t just being around all of us in the restaurant that causes the splotch, because that might mean you were just allergic to us. No bueno.
Laura N says
Good for you for reinventing your bloggy self!
I’m not a splotcher, but this was a fun post to read. The medic alert bracelet comment is a hoot.
Good luck at fitbloggin. You’ll be great.
i always get shrimp when we go to a seafoos restaurant. my man gets oysters and i always snag one, because while i like oysters, i love shrimp.
we went to a seafood buffet and they had OYSTERS! i got a large serving of them and ate them. then my man asked why my face was so red. i went to the ladies room and my face was as red as satan’s face.
the next time we went, i didn’t eat any oysters and i didn’t get red.
i guess that will teach me to be a pig and eat all the oysters up from everyone else.
I’m certainly not trying to diagnose you or anything, but have you gone to a dermatologist? My skin gets very red sometimes, and I went to the dermatologist last year and found I have rosacea. There’s a gel I put on my face at night and that helps me some. Just a thought.
No splotchiness here. I blush solid deep red from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I look like a human red velvet cake. 🙂
Laura I. says
I do the EXACT same thing, and have people ask me the same questiosn with the same degree of alarm. I do take medication which I think makes it happen more often than it normally would.
My mom also sewed her own wedding dress. I realize that correlation is not causation, however.
Huh, that reminds me that I used to blush when I was nervous, usually in work situations, but it hasn’t happened for years. I guess I’m more confident now, or maybe my job is less stressful.
I have rosacea. I’m always red, but it’s worse when I’ve been drinking, in the sun, or I’m hot. Or when people see me withyout makeup. When people comment, I tell them ” I have rosacea; it’s a skin condition. Thanks for pointing it out.” That usually shuts them up.
I remember thye surgery to correct chronic blushing; I think it was on Grey’s Anatomy.
My chest turns red and I break out into an uncontrollable itch when nervous. What’s even better is that no matter the occasion for speaking (I’m a college instructor who does not get nervous in front of a classroom) I pour obscene quantities of sweat, only from my armpits. No nervousness, totally fine, but I look like I have faucets in my armpits. It’s a good time, especially since I teach a course in public speaking.
If it ever drives you crazy, I recommend a green primer. I use it on my face when I know I’ll be an emotional situation and might cry because I stay red after tears for HOURS. Works fabulously.
I too am a tomato! Getting animated about anything, eating spicy food, you name it and I am red all over. Between that and my tendency to pink up in sunlight, it’s almost everyday anymore.
I’m a splotcher too. We should form a self-help group!
I’ve also been diagnosed with Rosacea, and tried the gel cream for a while, which unfortunately did absolutely nothing. I did a bit of research, found out about IPL laser treatment, and voila! a lot less splotchiness.
Don’t know if IPL works just for rosacea-type splotchiness or general splotchiness, but perhaps its worth looking into.
(I still get chest splotchiness when in stressful situations which resembles some dread disease – very fetching)
I also get very red, which is always super-fantastic when talking to guys. No better indicator that I find you attractive than the color of my face, right?
I actually had a conversation with a colleague last week in which she was telling me she was recommending against a style of documentation I had used, and evidently my body felt like I was being personally attacked because my face turned flame red. *I* didn’t know it was red until she pointed it out, and then assumed I was angry. Not angry! Just attacked!!
Heehee…I too am a tomato-head 🙂 Just a sip of alcohol, heat, cold, wind, sun, spicy food, exercise, just randomly…
It’s most likely rosacea in my case and people constantly point it out. I usually just point out that I’m always red.
The only time I really worry about it is when I’m at a job interview or in a meeting. I can feel my face get really hot and red. I wonder what the other people in the room think about me when it happens? Nobody has ever mentioned it in those situations.
Yeah, I get the same way! I get red over anything and everything. Allergic reactions in my turn into little hives so I know the difference at least. That helps! BUT then I look like a spotted red toad!
Ooh, so many people with red faces! For me, it’s just my nose… man, it’s so embarrassing! People either think I’m drunk, or have the cold – and, like Rose says, they feel they have the right to point it out. I’ve even had check out staff in the supermarket laugh and call me Rudolph! Oh, the world is a cruel place 🙂
Oh man, this feels like a wonderful splotchy person support group! I am very fair skinned and freckly, and while my face doesn’t so much get splotchy, any where in the neck or chest reason will turn horribly, fiery red from the slightest touch- from my hand, jewelry (not allergic, I promise) light breezes, etc. Much like you JenFul, it elicits a lot of “Oh my god, what’s wrong/what happened?!?!”s. Just feels good to know I’m not alone. 🙂
I finally wandered over to your new pad.
I get extremely red-faced and sweaty when I exercise, which bugs me because people assume I’m just really out of shape (being 20 pounds overweight doesn’t help either).
I have had one dermatologist suggest that I have roseacea but the medicine they gave me made my skin itchy and, you guessed it, red.
I don’t know if it bothers you enough to want to try something, but I am a physician assistant and know several people who treat similar conditions with an as needed beta blocker. Also don’t know if it would interfere (or is part of a regimen already) with your headache meds. It’s a thought to mention to your doctor if you are interested.
PS: I am a purplish-red splotchy exerciser and always forget why people pass by my elliptical with such alarmed looks on their faces until I see the mirror…I feel ya.
My mom and I are “splotchies!” I have Rosacea, but it’s something entirely different for my mom. She suffered with the tomato-head syndrome for years before she figured out she was reacting to Chromium (from her diet supplements) or MSG. She hasn’t had a red face in about 5 years now. Oh, by the way, when she was taking the Chromium she also had a constant headache. She’s free of the headaches as well. I just thought I’d pass the info along…
@Steph – I was on a beta-blocker for years which got rid of the headache for 5-6 years. Then I was on another one for awhile and went off them completely a year or so ago. So, maybe it’s the fact that I’m no longer on one that has caused the blushing to be worse. Interesting thought!