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Why Does Your Face Turn Red When You Poop?

Posted on November 04, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D.
Article written by
Ross Phan, PharmD

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects everyone with the condition differently, causing a variety of symptoms that can sometimes seem unusual or surprising. Several members of MyMSTeam describe experiencing a warm, reddened face, which is often related to toilet use.

“Does anyone else have facial flushing when using the bathroom?” one member asked. “I get this flushing, sometimes only on one side of my face and one ear and sometimes on both sides of my face and both ears, whenever I use the bathroom.”

“I have these exact same symptoms,” another member replied. “Anyone ever find out why these symptoms happen?”

Read on for more information about facial flushing during bowel movements in people with MS, including what might cause this symptom, how to manage it, and when to see a health care provider.

What Causes a Flushed Face During Bowel Movements in MS?

When you have MS, your immune system (the body’s defense system) mistakenly attacks the myelin (protective covering) of nerves in your central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord.

The resulting nerve damage can lead to a range of symptoms and affect any body area, including your digestive system. This means that MS may cause bowel problems such as constipation. Although bowel control issues in MS might be neurological (related to the nervous system), it’s possible that the issue is just from constipation itself.

Either way, people who have chronic (long-term) constipation may strain to have a bowel movement. That effort can also lead to strained breathing and a flushed face.

What Are Other Causes of a Flushed Face?

Bowel function problems such as constipation are common in people with MS and a potential cause of a flushed face. Other factors could also lead to flushing, including:

  • Temperature dysregulation — Damage to certain nerves in the brain may result in problems maintaining a normal body temperature and in reddening of the face.
  • Abnormal sensations — People with MS may experience unusual sensations, such as burning, in any body area, which could feel warm to the touch.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia — With this condition, lesion damage to the trigeminal nerve — which provides sensation to the face — may produce flushing and a burning feeling.
  • Medications — Side effects of dimethyl fumarate (sold as Tecfidera), a treatment option for MS, include red, warm, or burning skin.
  • Rosacea — This inflammatory skin condition can cause symptoms of blushing or flushing.
  • Menopause — Hot flashes and flushing are common symptoms of menopause.

Managing Facial Flushing During Bowel Movements in MS

Facial flushing has several possible triggers, such as consuming alcohol or certain foods. It’s also a possible symptom of different medical conditions. Strategies to manage flushing include keeping a symptom diary to help you identify what makes your skin turn red and warm. With this knowledge, you can avoid triggers that cause or worsen symptoms.

If you notice that your face reddens while you’re using the toilet, you can make certain lifestyle changes to manage bowel problems such as constipation. General suggestions include:

  • Drinking enough fluid
  • Eating enough fiber
  • Increasing physical activity

Before making any changes, reach out to your health care provider — especially if facial flushing is a new symptom or is getting worse. Once your health care provider determines the underlying cause, they can provide you with medical advice and discuss next steps.

Talk With Others Who Understand

Living with certain symptoms of MS can be challenging and affect your quality of life, but you don’t have to face them on your own. On MyMSTeam, the social network and online support group for people with MS and their loved ones, more than 193,000 members come together to ask questions, offer advice and support, and share stories with others who understand life with MS.

Do you experience facial flushing? Does it happen during bowel movements, or does something else trigger this symptom? How are you managing your facial flushing and constipation? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below, or start a conversation on MyMSTeam.

All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.
Evelyn O. Berman, M.D. is a neurology and pediatric specialist and treats disorders of the brain in children. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about her here.
Ross Phan, PharmD is a MyHealthTeam writer with a doctorate in Pharmacy. She is also a founder of Off Script, a pharmacy consulting business. Learn more about her here.

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