Erythrophobia – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Erythrophobia is a fear of blushing, more specifically blushing of the skin of the face. It is a mental disorder, but not a mental illness in the classic sense, even if the unwanted and vegetatively controlled blushing of the skin is experienced as unpleasant and can also be very stressful.

What is erythrophobia?

The term erythrophobia is a two-syllable Greek word. “Erythros” means “red” and “Phobos” means “fear”, so erythrophobia is a fear of blushing that can be acute or chronic. Some people only suffer from this anxiety disorder in certain phases of their lives , while others suffer from the fear of blushing their entire lives if they are not treated in time.

Very often those affected remain silent for a long time about their tendency to blush easily and do not confide in the doctor. Because blushing is still not generally socially accepted. The public often equates a person’s blushing with shame, indignity, or lying. In the corresponding situations, the person concerned can be so blocked internally that he is no longer able to speak even a single word. Unfortunately, this intensifies the fears again, creating a kind of vicious cycle of blushing, inner tension and embarrassment.


Most people affected by embarrassing blushing try their best to fight it by just mentally trying not to blush. However, this cannot be successful, because impulsive facial reddening, also known as flushing, is a strictly vegetative reaction that, like the heartbeat, cannot be influenced arbitrarily. Erythrophobia should not be confused with classic phobias such as fear of spiders or fear of heights . Because these are usually better to treat.

The cause of psychological erythrophobia is a so-called fear cycle. A situation that is perceived as unpleasant or negative thoughts lead to the self-perception of blushing. Then thoughts of danger and threat arise, even if no threat is objectively recognizable. This is followed by psychological anxiety with avoidance and withdrawal tendencies. As the fear cycle persists, physical changes also occur in the neurons, which in turn perpetuate the fear cycle. In this chronic phase, therapy is considered to be particularly difficult.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Although symptoms, complaints and signs of erythrophobia are predominantly of a psychological nature, physical causes must still be ruled out. Rosacea , couperose or a tendency to excessive sweating could also be hidden behind the reddening of the skin.

The blushing is often perceived by those affected as an impulse rising from the stomach, which appears uncontrollable and becomes independent in its feeling. If you then fight against it internally, the result is an even more violent and faster blushing. Often the little things in everyday life are enough to lose the self-confidence you have worked so hard to gain.

Erythrophobia can be accompanied by severe inner tension and restlessness , and blood pressure fluctuations are also common, because the hormonal system’s dysregulation causes the body to switch to the so-called escape and attack mode with increased release of stress hormones from the adrenal cortex. Blushing can occur geographically, for example, only on the ears, are extensive or in the form of so-called hectic spots.

In addition to the face, the décolleté, neck area or neck are often affected. Rapid blushing is also referred to as blushing, slow blushing as flushing and permanent blushing as a permanent progression. In psychological practice, this type of differential diagnosis can be important for follow-up.


It’s not true that dark-skinned people don’t blush, they blush just like fair-skinned people, but it’s just not that obvious. If those affected also suffer from a social phobia , i.e. a fear of meeting or contacting people, then an early diagnosis is particularly important in order to identify withdrawal tendencies or even suicidal behavior in good time.

The diagnosis should be made by a psychiatrist , psychologist or neurologist after a thorough physical examination and the exclusion of organic causes . In the international classification of the ICD register, erythrophobia is not listed as an independent clinical picture to this day.


Without treatment, it is possible for erythrophobia to get worse. Other anxiety disorders such as social phobia or agoraphobia may develop. A common complication associated with erythrophobia is avoidance of situations in which the sufferer thinks they are blushing or where blushing might be particularly embarrassing. Social impoverishment and withdrawal are common consequences, which can vary in severity.

Other mental disorders can also develop if erythrophobia is not treated. Isolation, shame and feelings of inferiority can, for example, contribute to the development of depression or encourage a relapse. Compulsions develop in some people who suffer from erythrophobia.

These often (initially) serve to reduce anxiety. Control compulsions are particularly common: the person concerned may frequently check their face in reflective surfaces or look for other indications of possible blushing. The constant monitoring may extend to other areas.

This behavior can be misinterpreted as vanity by outsiders. In addition, those affected may appear dismissive or disinterested by checking their reflection. Conflicts with friends or in the family are also possible. Many of those affected also suffer from the consequences of erythrophobia at work – for example if they do not dare to speak to others as a manager or do not actively participate in team discussions. This can lead to professional limitations.

When should you go to the doctor?

As a rule, a doctor does not always have to be consulted in the case of erythrophobia. The disease can be treated through various exercises or therapies. However, if those affected suffer from severe limitations in everyday life due to erythrophobia, a doctor should be consulted.

This is especially the case when the disease occurs as a result of traumatic experiences. A visit to the doctor is necessary if the patient suffers from blushing or excessive sweating in many situations. Usually, these symptoms cannot be predicted or prevented, leaving the sufferer unable to control the blushing themselves. Inner restlessness or permanent tension can also lead to erythrophobia and should be examined. Fluctuations in blood pressure can lead to real health problems and must also be examined.

The initial diagnosis of the disease can be made by a psychologist or by a therapist. The treatment is also usually carried out by these doctors. In many cases, the erythrophobia can be limited in this way. However, a completely positive course of the disease cannot always be predicted.

Treatment & Therapy

Crucial to the success of therapy for erythrophobia is the unconditional will of the patient to accept what is often a protracted treatment with setbacks. In addition, treatment must be given as early as possible, even before physiological structures in the brain have changed. In psychotherapy , no valid method for overcoming erythrophobia is known.

Disclosing talk psychotherapy, the participation of those affected in self-help groups, as well as psychodynamic and behavioral therapies have already been able to help many of those affected to deal with the symptoms tolerably. In the case of resistance to therapy, a special form of surgery, endoscopic transthoracic sympathectomy, can also be helpful after strict indication. However, it is only suitable for patients who are suicidal and have completely cut themselves off from the outside world.

Outlook & Forecast

In most cases, erythrophobia can be cured relatively well. There are no particular complications, although early diagnosis and treatment always have a positive effect on the further course of the disease. In some cases, self-healing can also occur, although this usually occurs only rarely.

If the erythrophobia is not treated, those affected will suffer from severe blushing and excessive sweating. Fluctuations in blood pressure can also occur with this disease and have a negative impact on the quality of life of those affected. If the erythrophobia occurs over a longer period of time, the disease can also lead to social problems, which can cause difficulties, especially in children and adolescents.

Since the treatment of erythrophobia is usually carried out as part of psychotherapy, the further course and success of the treatment depends heavily on the severity of the disease and the patient’s own attitude. However, the disease is usually cured. The life expectancy of the patient is not negatively affected by the disease.


Erythrophobia is often triggered by a childhood trigger. If parents notice an increase in involuntary blushing in their child, they should not be afraid to ask a psychiatrist for advice. Because early therapy can prevent the development of an anxiety cycle and thus the occurrence of erythrophobia in adulthood.


Aftercare options are very limited for those affected by erythrophobia. The patient is primarily dependent on the direct and medical treatment of this disease in order to avoid further complications. Since self-healing is not possible, early diagnosis of this disease is very important.

The treatment itself is usually carried out with the help of medication and therapy by a psychologist. The person concerned should ensure that they take the medication regularly, taking interactions or side effects into account. In the case of children, it is primarily the parents who should check that the medication is being taken correctly. Even after successful treatment of erythrophobia, most of those affected are dependent on continuing to take the medication.

Since erythrophobia is a psychological upset, loving and intensive support for the patient also has a positive effect on the course of the disease. The patients should be integrated into the lives of other people, since they often isolate themselves from other people. Contact with other people affected by erythrophobia can also be useful, as this can lead to an exchange of information that can make everyday life easier.

You can do that yourself

There are no treatments available that will completely prevent blushing. However, sufferers can learn how to blush less frequently. There is also an opportunity to eliminate the fear of blushing. First, sufferers should stop seeing blushing as a disaster or shame. It is also advisable to accept one’s faults and weaknesses.

Those affected should always allow themselves to blush. In particular, the thought of not blushing triggers exactly the opposite. Panic ensues, leading to blushing. Those affected should not forbid or even hide this characteristic. It is better to get used to the blush and react positively to it. It makes sense to tell yourself it’s okay. This will pass quickly. Those affected should always repeat these words when they notice a blush.

In addition, it is beneficial to boost your self- confidence. If you take this to heart and don’t judge yourself, you will be less afraid of blushing. It also teaches those affected to feel less embarrassed by blushing. This, in turn, results in generally less blushing. The exercises take some time, but the success is worth it.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.