Author: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1997.

Flushing occurs because the blood vessels in the skin dilate. When flushing is produced by activity of the nerves to the blood vessels, it is accompanied by sweating. Agents which act directly on the blood vessels cause dry flushing.

Causes of flushing

Causes of flushing may be considered under the following headings.

Flushing related to alcohol

Some drugs cause flushing when the patient drinks alcohol. These include:

Alcohol may also cause flushing while mushrooms are consumed, and in patients with the rare tumour, carcinoid.

Flushing related to food additives

Flushing related to food additives is uncommon.

Note: E numbers are now on most NZ manufactured foods. However, fermented beverages, delicatessen food and restaurant food do not have to state additive content.

Flushing associated with eating

Flushing associated with eating is very common.

Neurologic flushing

Neurologic flushing occurs in association with the following conditions.

Drugs that may cause flushing

In susceptible individuals, the medications that may cause flushing include:

Other causes of flushing

Treatment of flushing

The treatment for flushing depends on the underlying cause.

Related information

Email Newsletter

Would you like to receive our dermatology updates by email?


Submit your images

We're seeking high-quality photos of skin diseases.  


Machine diagnosis

Watch DermNet's proposal to create a 'Skin Disease Image Recognition Tool' - winner of the 2017 'Clinicians' Challenge Active Award' by the NZ Ministry of Health and HiNZ.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
DermNet NZ Newsletter