Though it’s a common chronic skin condition affecting millions worldwide, we’re yet to find a cure for rosacea. For now, doctors and patients work together to find the right treatment plans in the hope of managing and controlling flare-ups and symptoms. One of these ways is dietary changes, but the question still remains, “can diet help with rosacea?”
Dietary changes are not a cure for rosacea. It is, however, a great way to identify what foods and ingredients trigger symptoms and flare-ups. Through the rosacea diet, a patient can avoid these food triggers and prevent future flare-ups.
It is important to note that food triggers vary from one patient to another. This means no two rosacea diets are ever identical. Some foods may exacerbate symptoms in another but not have the same effects in others.
Below, we will detail how diet and dietary changes can help manage and control rosacea symptoms. We’ll also go over what foods tend to trigger rosacea and what foods actually help with managing the condition.
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition usually characterized by persistent flushing, blushing, and redness. Symptoms typically appear on the center of the face, cheeks, and nose. Some cases can also develop symptoms on the forehead, chin, neck, and back.
Rosacea is a prevalent skin condition, affecting more than 16 million Americans and as many as 415 million worldwide, according to the National Rosacea Society (NRS) here.
Aside from the flushing and redness, other common symptoms can include acne-like bumps, sensitivity, burning, thickening skin, and eye irritations. Read about the different types of rosacea.
Common symptoms overlap with other skin conditions. This is why it’s often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, with some mistaking it for simply flushing easily.
Rosacea is also a chronic and long-term skin condition. Its symptoms come and go in a cycle – symptoms are triggered, managed, and can go away. Once there is another trigger, the cycle restarts and repeats.
Though rosacea isn’t exactly a threat to health, its acne-like and persistent blushing symptoms can have a psychological toll on the patient, especially if left untreated and unmanaged.
The main and common symptoms of rosacea are as follows:
- Persistent redness and flushing
- Visible blood vessels
- Skin burning, stinging, and sensitivity
- Pus-filled, acne-like bumps and rashes
- Thickened skin, especially on the nose area
- Patches of dry and oily skin
- Watery, bloodshot, and irritated eyes
- Cysts and bumps on the eyelids
It’s important to note that there are four subtypes of rosacea symptoms. And each subtype presents both overlapping and unique symptoms. For more information on these types of rosacea, check out our detailed guide here.
What causes rosacea flare-ups?
Doctors and scientists are yet to find the exact cause of rosacea. For now, it would be safe to say it could be a combination of your genetic predispositions and various environmental factors and triggers.
Rosacea is more common in women, though more severe cases are more likely to occur in male patients. Those between the ages of 30 to 50 are also more at risk of developing rosacea.
People who have fair skin, hair, and eyes are more prone, as well as those with other family members with the same skin condition.
Aside from these genetic factors, environmental factors can be huge triggers and factors in rosacea flare-ups.
Sun exposure, extremely hot or cold temperatures, humidity, dryness, and strong winds can all contribute to flare-ups.
Allergies, excessive sweating, and emotional responses like stress, anger, and anxiety are also said to be contributing factors and are common triggers.
And lastly, your food and diet can play a huge role in your rosacea flare-ups. Spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol, and caffeine are some of the more common rosacea triggers.
Much like the cause of rosacea, there is no cure for the skin disease yet. What dermatologists offer patients are different treatment plans to cope with, manage, control, and reduce rosacea symptoms.
Topical treatments and oral medications are at the top of the list as simple and easy ways to manage symptoms. Another simple way to manage is by modifying your current skincare routine and turning it into a rosacea-friendly regimen.
Others choose the facial treatment path with chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser and light therapy. Find out more about the laser treatment option here.
Many rosacea sufferers opt to make lifestyle changes, especially regarding their diet and food intake. Once they find out what foods trigger their flare-ups, they make it a point to avoid these trigger foods at all costs.
Although these treatment options are not exactly a cure for rosacea, they definitely help patients manage and reduce rosacea flare-ups.
Can Diet Help With Rosacea?
Food is a known rosacea trigger, as we’ve mentioned above. While we don’t give medical advice, we have found some interesting data on the subject of diet and rosacea. Here are just a few examples:
One study shows that food intake and dietary changes may play a huge role in managing rosacea and its given symptoms.
Additionally, in a 2005 survey by the NRS, 78% of the more than 400 rosacea patients that were surveyed attest to altering their diets to reduce and avoid rosacea flare-ups.
Some foods can exacerbate rosacea symptoms while some may help control and keep them at bay.
Some food categories many patients report trigger their flare-ups include spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol.
Ttopical and oral medications will help you deal with the flare-ups but on top of that, you can manage symptoms better by avoiding food triggers altogether.
What is the Rosacea Diet?
The rosacea diet, as some like to call it, focuses on eliminating certain foods and ingredients that trigger and worsen rosacea symptoms.
There is no set plan or rules all rosacea patients should follow, simply because food triggers are different for every patient.
One patient may consider this specific food as a rosacea trigger so they remove it from their diet. But for others, it doesn’t have any effect on them or their symptoms so there isn’t a reason to completely cut that food out from their diet.
Your rosacea diet would consist of foods and ingredients that don’t trigger or worsen your symptoms. Your rosacea diet will be different from another. No two rosacea diets are exactly the same.
As we’ve mentioned, rosacea food triggers vary for everyone.
Identifying what triggers your flare-ups would need some experimenting and continuous trial and error.
Many suggest keeping a food and symptom diary. In it, you can list down everything you eat in a day and your symptoms as they develop. This will let you look deep into what food you eat and determine what triggers flare-ups for you.
This method will help you eliminate certain foods and ingredients. From that list, you can start modifying a rosacea diet to help you control and manage your symptoms better.
Is it effective?
The rosacea diet is not a “cure”. But by eliminating foods and ingredients that trigger rosacea flare-ups, you can manage symptoms far better than before.
Is It safe?
As long as your body is still getting the nutrients it needs, any diet – including the rosacea diet – is safe.
Of course, you can consult with a nutritionist first before making any changes, just to be on the safer side. If you experience some unexpected health changes after modifying your diet, a visit to a doctor may be warranted.
Foods that Trigger Rosacea
Below are some common rosacea food triggers you might want to consider cutting out from your diet:
Spicy foods can trigger a histamine response on the skin, which can lead to inflammation. Many spicy foods and ingredients also contain the chemical capsaicin, which can trigger warmness in the skin.
Spicy food can affect and dilate the blood vessels on the skin and can lead to redness and flushing. In fact, it’s one of the more common foods that can trigger rosacea symptoms.
Though they make meals extra tasty, avoiding black pepper, chili peppers, hot sauce, jalapenos, and the like might do you good.
Alcohol is another common rosacea trigger, especially red wine and hard liquor. Alcohol intake can dilate blood vessels, causing flushing and redness across the face. The severity of the symptoms also increases the more alcohol is consumed.
Not all alcoholic beverages are triggers though. Some beers don’t trigger flare-ups due to the anti-inflammatory property of hops, which are used to brew beer.
Hot beverages like hot coffee, hot tea, or hot chocolate increase blood flow to the face. These are triggers due to the temperature rather than the ingredients in them so you don’t have to completely cut them off your diet. You can drink them cold instead – think iced coffee, iced tea, or iced chocolate.
Cinnamaldehyde in food can give it a warming sensation, potentially triggering rosacea symptoms. Foods like cinnamon (it’s what gives it the familiar scent and flavor), chocolate, tomatoes, and citrus fruits all have cinnamaldehyde.
Histamine is a food compound that can dilate blood vessels, causing blushing and redness on the skin. High-histamine foods include alcohol, citrus foods, chocolate, tomatoes, shellfish, and aged cheese among others.
Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and sour cream can increase inflammation, causing redness and flushing. Some also experience breaking out when consuming dairy.
Foods that Help With Rosacea
Aside from triggering rosacea flare-ups, there are also foods that can help manage and control symptoms:
Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition. Anti-inflammatory foods affect rosacea-caused inflammation for the better. This food group includes cherries, nuts, and avocados.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids aka “healthy fats” are especially beneficial for patients with ocular rosacea, a rosacea subtype that affects the eyes. Salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and seeds like chia seeds and flaxseed are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Prebiotics and probiotics
Rosacea may also be due to the imbalance of microorganisms in the gut. To promote good bacteria growth and reduce inflammation, a diet rich in both prebiotics and probiotics is suggested.
Prebiotic foods make a healthy environment for good bacteria inside the body. Probiotic foods help add good microorganisms to the intestines.
Leeks, onions, asparagus, and garlic are all prebiotic foods. Yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and miso are all rich in probiotics.
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and other deep green, leafy vegetables have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can keep rosacea symptoms and flare-ups at bay.
Turmeric is known to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties and that’s exactly what you need in a rosacea diet to control and manage symptoms.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition affecting millions in the world. And while there isn’t a cure for it yet, there are a number of ways rosacea patients can cope with, manage, and control the symptoms. One of the common ways to do it is by modifying diet and food intake.
While the rosacea diet is not a definite cure for rosacea, it’s a great way to control and eliminate foods and ingredients that can trigger flare-ups. Food triggers vary from one patient to another so no two rosacea diets are exactly identical.
If you have rosacea, we highly recommend discussing diet changes and skin conditions with a doctor. If you feel self-conscious about your rosacea, sometimes makeup can help. Here are some great makeup options for rosacea to try.