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An Overview of Erythrophobia: The Fear of Blushing

having attention of others to someone may bring panic and embarrassment/ Photo By Borysevychcom via Shutterstock

 

Some people thrive in situations where they can gain total and unwavering attention. Others desire to flee from such situations for many different reasons. Having attention drawn to them can cause them to panic and feel embarrassed.

This embarrassment in turn, could make them blush. As their face turns red, they may fear that others may notice how their cheeks have changed their color. They may attempt to conceal their blushing face and hope that no one would see it or that they would not tease them about it. In trying to control the sudden redness of their face, this may result in to them blushing more uncontrollably. This describes the experience of individuals who have Erythrophobia.

Techly states that eight percent of the American population is affected by this condition.

 

erythrophobia is an irrational and recurrent fear of blushing/ Photo By Mangostar via Shutterstock

 

Definition of Erythrophobia

Erythrophobia is defined by Medicinenet.com as the irrational and recurrent fear of blushing. It comes from the two Greek words “eryhthros” meaning “red” and “phobos” meaning “fear”. It is categorized as a social phobia.

When an individual is affected by this phobia, their blushing is linked to a host of negative thoughts that focus on how they are viewed. In the state of embarrassment and anxiety, they would rather have people pay attention to something or someone else. The thought that others might judge them because of their blushing increases their tendency to blush, which reinforces their negative thoughts. This leads them to become more embarrassed and anxious.

15minutes4me.com states that it is also known as Blushing anxiety.
 

Causes

There are several factors that could cause an individual to develop Erythrophobia. Based on Verywell Mind’s findings, the reasons a person may have an irrational fear of blushing may include:

Body’s fight or flight response

The sympathetic nervous system elicits an involuntary response in fight or flight mode. At times when a person may feel anxious and embarrassed, the body gets filled with epinephrine, commonly known as the adrenaline. This makes a person experience physiological symptoms.

Adrenaline can cause an individual to have a faster heartbeat, restrain their digestive system and repress pain.

 

blushing is one of the results of the widening of  blood vessels/ Photo By fizkes via Shutterstock

 

Vasodilation of certain veins in the face

In connection to the effects of adrenaline on a person they feel anxiety or embarrassment, it may also cause some blood vessels to widen. Blushing is one of the results of the widening of these blood vessels or vasodilation, which causes a boost in blood circulation on the face. The wider those blood vessels become, the deeper the shade of red.

Other reasons may trigger the occurrence of vasodilation such as drinking alcohol and other health conditions. However, no matter what may have caused them to blush, people who suffer from Erythrophobia feel anxious and embarrassed whenever it happens.
Negative experiences

This may also be caused by a person’s apprehension of being the center of attention or the fear of being humiliated in a social setting. In their childhood, other people may have fun of them for being having an extremely red face. They may also have experienced other people commenting on  how red their face is.

If it was not due to their traumatic experiences during their childhood, they might have developed it in their adulthood. They may have had significant embarrassing blushing experiences as an adult.

 

Symptoms

According to hiperhidrosis.com, an individual who suffers Erythrophobia may show the following symptoms:

1. Fear of blushing and blushing even more

2. Being afraid of others judging them

3. Being afraid of performing in public

4. Being unable to speak and unable to move

5. Feeling embarrassed

6. Getting post-blush depression

Treatment

Patients who want to treat their Erythrophobia may take three approaches to their treatment. They may choose to go through therapy, have a surgery or take prescribed medication.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

In this therapy, the patient is introduced to new thought patterns and behaviors that may reduce their fear of blushing.

Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathicotomy (ETS)

The aim of this operation is to hinder the face’s tendency to blush. Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathicotomy started in Latin America in 1966. It is a surgery done either on an overnight stay and an outpatient basis.

An optic will be inserted into a cut in the armpit, which one centimeter deep, until it reaches the the thoracic cavity (the passage in the throat). Titanium clips will then be attached to the sympathetic nerves through a second cut near the armpit which will be five millimeters deep. The purpose of the clip application is for the operation to be open to the possibility of being reversed if the trunk sweats intensely after the surgery.

Medication

The doctor may prescribe serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce the redness that has been caused by the social phobia. Patients should be cautious in taking medicine as it has been shown to not be too effective and they may experience some unwanted side effects. Mostly, medication is only used when therapy alone is not enough to help the patient overcome their fear.

With the help of a mental healthcare expert and the right treatment, a person who has Erythrophobia heightens their chances of reducing their fear of blushing or finally being free from it.

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