Foods that cause rosacea

Avoiding Rosacea Triggers

Once you’ve figured out what your rosacea triggers are, find ways to avoid them.

Food and drinks. Don’t eat foods that cause rosacea symptoms. You could also try some simple substitutions. For instance, in the morning, replace that steaming mug of coffee with iced coffee.

Exercise. Unfortunately, working out can worsen your rosacea. But you still need to be physically active. So change your routine. Instead of one long workout, try splitting it into several shorter segments. Try longer, low-intensity workouts instead of more demanding ones. And stay cool. Don’t exercise outside when it’s too hot. If you’re inside, use a fan or air conditioner. During your workout, drink plenty of water. Afterward, cover your face with a cool cloth.

Weather. You should always wear a hat and use sunscreen to protect your skin while outside. Also, do the obvious: dress warmly on cold days and lightly on hot ones.

Emotional stress. Learn ways to calm yourself before stress results in a rosacea flare-up. You might try deep breathing exercises or yoga.

Medication. If you think a medicine may be a trigger, talk to your doctor. See if you could take a different drug.

The Rosacea Diet: Eat Your Way To Calmer Skin

Many foods and drinks are thought to trigger the inflammatory response brought on by the condition—like flare-ups, redness, dilated blood vessels and thickening of the skin, so keep reading to see what should be at the top of your shopping list, if you’re a rosacea-sufferer….

The Calm Skin Shopping List

– Vegetables like asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans and zucchini

– Low-sugar and complex carbohydrates

– Cottage cheese is a good source of protein and isn’t as difficult to digest as aged-cheese

– Fatty fish, such as salmon – which is high in omega-3sa, a superfood for anti-inflammation and decreasing redness

– Lean poultry meats, like turkey or chicken, in moderation

– Non-citrus fruits like grapes, melons and mango

– Soothing spices such as coriander, cardamom, saffron and fennel

– Turmeric

– Ghee, is an Indian clarified-butter that aids in proper immune system function


Foods that help to promote good bacteria in the body may help to reduce rosacea symptoms too, as some believe that rosacea is triggered by an imbalance in the microorganisms that live in our gut and on our skin.

Healthy probiotic foods include: kefir, kombucha, pickled vegetables and fruit.

Fibre-rich prebiotic foods include: bananas, kale, lentils and whole grains.

While flare-up can’t completely be avoided via diet, treating your sensitive skin right from the inside out can certainly help.

The Rosacea Diet: What To Eat And What To Avoid

It happens every time.

You’re having a drink with your friends or enjoying a couple of chocolate chip cookies and, as if on cue, your skin flushes red. Your rosacea has flared up again.

Rosacea’s a pain. It starts with little red cheeks and then takes over most of your face, makes your eyes swell up and gives you all sort of sensitivities. Ugh.

You know it, there’s no known cure for rosacea. Topical creams and antibiotics can only soothe the symptoms. But what if you could prevent them in the first place? That’s where the Rosacea Diet comes in.

What’s The Rosacea Diet?

The name says it all: the Rosacea Diet is a meal plan to keep rosacea flares at bay. It removes all potential rosacea triggers from your kitchen and stocks it up on anti-inflammatory foods instead.

Here’s where it gets tricky: not all “trigger foods” automatically trigger rosacea in all rosacea sufferers. Some people, for example, flush red at the mere sip of champagne, while others can drink a whole glass without problems.

So how do you figure out which foods trigger rosacea in you? Keep a log. Pick one food from the banned list and jot down in your journal how your skin reacts to it. If after a few days, your skin’s fine, chances are it’s safe for you. If it makes you flush red, it’s a trigger for you, too. Avoid!

Let’s see what common “trigger foods” are not allowed on the Rosacea Diet, shall we?

Foods to avoid

Sugar And Processed Foods

Come on, you knew this was coming. Sugar is the number two enemy of the skin (only UV rays are worse!). For starters, it causes glycation, a fancy way of saying it destroys collagen and gives you wrinkles.

Like that weren’t bad enough, sugar also triggers chronic inflammation in the skin. Same goes for processed foods (which, by the way, are often loaded with sugar). Binge on them and a rosacea flare-up is guaranteed. Here are the worst culprits:

  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fried foods
  • Processed meats
  • Processed vegetable oils
  • Refined sugars
  • Soda drinks
  • Starchy vegetables
  • Sugary sweets
  • White flour


Another bummer, I know! Why are all the best things bad for skin?!

Alcohol is one of the worst culprits. Half the adults with rosacea report that drinking alcohol makes their rosacea worse. The worst part? You don’t even have to get drunk. The tiniest drop of alcohol is enough to trigger a flare-up. Here’s what’s on the banned list:

  • Beer
  • Champagne
  • Gin
  • Hard liquor
  • Vodka
  • Wine

Hot Beverages

Is there anything better than a cup of warm, freshly-brewed coffee in the morning? If you’ve got rosacea, yes. Any hot drink that increases your body temperature – even just a little – may very well trigger another flare-up. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot cider
  • Hot coffee
  • Hot tea

Spicy Foods

Tempted to add a spicy kick to your salad? Don’t.

Spicy foods are even worse than alcohol. They trigger a rosacea flare-up in 75% of sufferers!

Blame it on capsaicin and cynnamaldehye, two chemicals in spices that gives them their “heat” and your body a warming sensation. Any foods with them spell trouble for your delicate skin.

Here’s where these two chemicals are hiding:

  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili oils
  • Chili pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Hot sauce
  • Jalapenos
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper
  • Tabasco pepper
  • White pepper

Histamine-rich Foods

Ever heard of histamine? It’s a natural chemical in your body that can cause flushing. Like, the last thing your skin needs, right?

Some foods have their own in-built histamine. Others mess with you in your body, triggering it to make more histamine, just because. Either way, they make the redness, flushing and swelling worse. Here’s the foods to be aware of:

  • Anchovies
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Citrus fruits
  • Cow’s milk
  • Chocolate
  • Cured meats (think bacon, lunch meat, hot dogs…)
  • Dried fruits
  • Eggplant
  • Mackerel
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Smoked fish
  • Sour cream
  • Tomatoes
  • Vinegar

At this point, you may feel like you’re not allowed to eat anything. That’s not true! There’s still A LOT of delicious foods you can add to your plate. So, let’s (finally!) take a look at what you can munch on on the Rosacea Diet.

Foods To Eat

Anti-inflammatory Foods

If rosacea is an inflammatory condition, it makes sense that adding as many anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diet can keep it under control. But how do you spot the foods?

Anything with omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and avocado – will do the job. Omega-3 soothe inflammation and hydrate your skin to boot. If avocado did not trigger a flare, then you can, and should, take advantage of all it’s goodness.

The colour of the food is another clue. The antioxidants that give berries, grapes & co. their deep, bright hues double up as anti-inflammatories that can calm down irritations and redness.

Here’s a list of anti-inflammatory foods to add to your shopping list now:

  • Asparagus
  • Berries
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumber
  • Grapes
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Salmon
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Zucchinis


Did you know that bad bacteria could have something to do with your rosacea? When they take over the good bacteria in your gut flora, the imbalance triggers inflammation.

Probiotics are foods enriched with millions of tiny good bacteria that can restore equilibrium in your gut and keep the bad bacteria in check so they won’t outgrow again. Here’s where you can find them:

  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Pickled fruits and vegetables
  • Probiotics-enriched yogurts
  • Sauerkraut
  • Tempeh

And making your own fermented veggies is not difficult at all, if you want to give it a try! Most recipes simply call for a clean jar, your veggie of choice, and some salt water.

High-Fiber Foods

Probiotics aren’t the only way to maintain the right bacterial balance in your diet. Foods rich in fiber, such as onions and kale, help the good bacteria in your gut flora multiply. It’s all about creating a healthy environment. Make your gut more hospitable to good rather than bad bacteria and you’ve won half the battle already.

P.S. These foods are called prebiotics. Here’s where you can find them:

  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lentils
  • Onions (raw and cooked)
  • Whole grains

The Rosacea Diet isn’t that different from any other balanced diet. Stay away from sugar and processed foods, beware of spicy foods and alcohol and eat your five portions of the rainbow a day. The more anti-inflammatory foods your skin gets, the lower the chance of another rosacea flare-up.

Do you have any tips that help you control your rosacea? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Can the “Rosacea Diet” Actually Clear Your Skin?

Photo: Sutasinee Anukul /

Having an irritated, tender, pimply face as an adult can be incredibly frustrating. Many people wonder: Isn’t this stuff supposed to stop when you finish puberty?! Well, as anyone with adult acne can tell you, that’s certainly not always the case. I discovered that there are several other non-acne skin conditions that can cause that splotchy look when at 27, I developed red, itchy, pimple-like bumps all over my face, accompanied by a red nose that rivaled Rudolph’s. (Related: What’s Causing All That Skin Redness?)

After several visits to dermatologists, it was determined that I had rosacea, a chronic inflammatory skin condition that affects an estimated 16 million people in the U.S., according to the National Rosacea Society. And I found out that while topical creams and antibiotics can help with rosacea, so can your diet.

Here’s what I learned from trying out the “rosacea diet” for myself, plus what you need to know if you’re considering it, too.

What’s Rosacea and What Does Food Have to Do With It?

“Rosacea is a skin condition that affects the central part of the face (especially around the nose), where patients develop flushing and blushing, burning and stinging, and red bumps and pus pimples,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. It’s also a chronic condition, which means once you have it, you’ll always have to deal with it to some degree. So while the flare-ups might become less frequent and milder once you have it under control, they’ll never be gone completely. Womp-womp.

“In rosacea, the skin is extra sensitive to the environment and over-reactive to triggers like spicy foods, hot beverages, alcohol, emotional stress, and hot weather,” Dr. Zeichner explains. Other common triggers include exercise, sun exposure, and hot showers. “All of these lead to worsening of redness and the development of red bumps on the face.”

Even more fun: “We don’t totally understand what causes rosacea, but we know that the skin barrier is not working as well as it should be, there is extra inflammation in the skin, and blood vessels become easily dilated,” he says. Rosacea most commonly affects those with fair skin, but it can happen to anyone. (Related: How to Boost Your Skin Barrier)

Rosacea is commonly treated with prescription creams and sometimes even antibiotics, but one of the most common non-pharmaceutical solutions is simply avoiding triggers-especially certain types of food. “We know that your diet can have a large impact on many skin conditions, including rosacea,” Dr. Zeichner says. “Any foods that cause blood vessels to dilate can cause a flare-up of rosacea. The more flare-ups a patient gets, the more permanent the effects become.” That’s why derms like Dr. Zeichner recommend their patients avoid spicy food, alcohol, and super-hot (temperature-wise) foods or beverages since they can cause more long-term effects, including redder skin and more broken capillaries.

Avoiding these few very common triggers doesn’t work for everyone, though, so sometimes a more specific diet is required. “When these changes are insufficient, I recommend an anti-inflammatory diet,” Dr. Zeichner says. While not all anti-inflammatory diets are the same, they generally have a few main things in common. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids (which have been shown to help reduce rosacea-related inflammation) and low in refined sugar, fried foods, and processed meats. While more research is needed on how the gut-skin connection factors into the rosacea equation, research suggests that dietary changes do make a difference, particularly when people with rosacea avoid inflammatory foods. (Related: 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating Regularly)

But Does It Actually Work?

I encountered the “rosacea diet” while desperately searching around the internet for ways to deal with my rosacea. As someone who exercises most days and spends a great deal of time outside, many common triggers-such as hot/cold weather and sweating-are unavoidable for me. And while topical medications definitely help, they don’t solve everything. But one thing I felt fairly confident I could control? My diet.

Being a health writer, I already eat pretty healthy in general and avoid processed foods when possible. But there are a few changes to my diet that I had been advised to make that I simply didn’t want to commit to, most notably: not drinking hot coffee, not drinking alcohol, and not eating spicy foods (three things that were regular parts of my diet!). I wondered, if I committed to making these changes in addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, would I see skin results?

So I decided to try it out for two weeks. I didn’t want to give up coffee completely, so I swapped lattes for homemade cold brew and my nightly hot tea for a sparkling water. I vowed to skip jalapeños on taco night, avoid dousing my eggs with hot sauce, and stop adding so much chili powder to my Instant Pot meal prep dinners. I incorporated fish oil supplements into my daily routine, since I’m a vegetarian and eating fish frequently isn’t an option for me. I also loaded up on anti-inflammatory foods including all types of berries, green leafy veggies, nuts, and seeds.

Lastly, I decided to try to avoid one other type of dietary trigger that research says may have an impact: cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde is found in warming foods like cinnamon, tomatoes, chocolate, and citrus fruits. Some research suggests that it may cause a burning skin sensation in people with rosacea, and while the evidence isn’t super strong and not all dermatologists recommend avoiding it, plenty of people are triggered by foods containing the substance. (I’ve always been of the opinion that fruits and veggies shouldn’t be excluded from a diet unless you’re allergic to them, so to say I was skeptical about excluding things like tomatoes and oranges from my diet would be an understatement.)

After my two weeks were up, my takeaway was pretty clear: Changing my diet helped clear up and prevent rosacea flare-ups, but it didn’t eliminate them completely. I still had redness and new bumps pop up over the course of the two weeks, despite adhering to my “rosacea diet.” To be fair, this type of diet probably produces best results over the long term, and I will continue to follow some of the recommendations because they were actually helpful.

Namely, I learned that the benefits of staying away from alcohol are real. Waking up the morning after having a few drinks with seriously irritated skin is a normal occurrence for me, and avoiding alcohol completely for two weeks allowed me to wake up each morning with relatively clear skin. (Although I still noticed redness develop throughout the day from other triggers like exercise and spending time outside.) I’ll also continue taking fish oil, because whether or not it’s truly helping my rosacea, there are so many other benefits to taking it.

On the flip side, I’ll be adding tomatoes, citrus fruits, and chocolate back into my diet stat-avoiding them didn’t’ seem to make an impact for me personally, and I didn’t notice any ill effects when I reintroduced them into my diet. All in all, I found that tinkering with my diet to deal with rosacea symptoms was worthwhile, but certainly not a miracle solution.

Tips for Adjusting Your Diet If You Have Rosacea

If you’re thinking about adjusting your diet to help deal with rosacea, here’s what experts want you to know.

Be realistic about results. Unfortunately, as I experienced, a diet change won’t make your rosacea go away completely. “Remember to have realistic experience expectations,” says Kristina Goldenberg, M.D., of Goldenberg Dermatology in New York City. “Unfortunately, no cure exists for rosacea. Therefore, the goal of the diet should be to minimize flare-ups rather than to eliminate them completely.”

You won’t be able to avoid triggers all the time. It would be nice to feel like you’re in total control over what goes into your food at all times, but that’s simply not possible for most people, especially if you want to eat out. “Unless you prepare all your meals, it is impossible to avoid certain ingredients,” says Michele Green, M.D., a dermatologist and RealSelf contributor. Doing the best you can is all you can expect from yourself. “Eating in moderation is the key to avoiding rosacea flares and minimizing your symptoms,” she adds.

It’s not one-size-fits-all. Triggers are often highly individual, so what worked for someone else may not work for you. “There are common foods that can cause rosacea flare-ups such as tomatoes, alcohol, spicy foods, cheese, coffee, and chocolate,” Dr. Green says. “But these foods are not triggers for everyone. Therefore you should chart which foods trigger your rosacea and avoid them in your diet.” Keeping a food journal that also notes your skin symptoms can help you figure out your own individual problem foods.

Talk to your derm. Above all, skin pros emphasize that getting a dermatologist involved in your rosacea treatment is essential. “If adjustments in diet aren’t showing results, try not to get frustrated,” Dr. Zeichner says. “If you suffer from rosacea, visit a board-certified dermatologist for evaluation and potential treatment options.” They’re most up-to-date on all the available options, and they’ll be able to suggest different tactics to try when you feel like you’ve hit a dead end.

5 Foods to Start Eating to Help with Rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition that can be frustrating and embarrassing. It is characterized by increased facial redness and sometimes bumps, which can be mistaken for acne. Treatments for rosacea only help to reduce symptoms, because there is currently no cure. Diet may be a practical way to help maintain symptoms of rosacea!

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects more than 14 million people in the United States alone. The condition is characterized by flushing, redness and visible blood vessels on facial skin. Rosacea is also commonly mistaken as acne because it can also include pus-filled bumps. It is also mistaken for rosy cheeks or sunburn and has been notoriously associated with heavy alcohol use.

There are four different types of rosacea, but the official cause is unknown. It is believed to be caused by multiple factors, including a dense presence of sebaceous (oil) glands in the facial area and high levels of hormones that can cause inflammation. One of the biggest misconceptions about rosacea is that it is caused by poor hygiene, but it is a result of a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. While there is no food-based rosacea cure, here are some foods to incorporate into a rosacea healthy diet.

5 Best Foods to Improve Rosacea

Fresh fruits

An important aspect of treating rosacea with food is to remember to pick foods with anti-inflammatory properties because rosacea is an inflammatory disease. Fresh organic fruits not only have anti-inflammatory properties but also contain a high amount of antioxidants that can help to prevent damage on a cellular level.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish also contain anti-inflammatory properties, because they have high levels of zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Both zinc and omega-3 fatty acids help to inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways and help block inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help to prevent dry eye symptoms in people with ocular rosacea. Other great sources of omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds and walnuts.


Turmeric is a spice derived from the Curcuma longa plant in India that is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. One theory is that an active compound within turmeric called curcumin contributes to its anti-inflammatory capabilities.

Fermented foods

It was found that bacterial overgrowth in the gastrointestinal tract may worsen rosacea and that patients with rosacea are more prone to gastrointestinal infections. A study found that when gastrointestinal imbalances were treated with probiotics, the severity of participants’ rosacea was reduced. In addition to probiotic supplements, fermented foods are full of probiotics that may be beneficial to keep gut bacteria in balance to help prevent infections and rosacea flare-ups. Examples of delicious and nutritious fermented foods include miso, kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, and more!

High fiber vegetables

Bland vegetables can also help to improve rosacea by helping to prevent bacterial overgrowth. Dr. Robynne Chutkan states that vegetables like leafy greens, asparagus, and legumes like lentils can help to create an environment that allows for good gut bacteria to grow and diversify. She also says that avoiding starches and refined sugars will help to prevent gut bacterial overgrowth.

Foods to Avoid with Rosacea

Hot foods: spicy and temperature

It was found that coffee, and other hot (temperature hot!) and spicy foods can trigger a thermoregulatory reflex that dilates blood vessels, increasing the flushing of facial skin and causes rosacea flares. It is recommended to swap hot coffee and tea with iced drinks since it was the temperature and not the caffeine that seems to cause rosacea flares.

Histamine-containing foods

Foods that contain histamines can also trigger rosacea. Histamines are natural chemical compounds that induce inflammation by increasing vasodilation. Rosacea is an inflammatory disease, so avoiding inflammatory foods may help to avoid flare-up or reduce symptoms. Foods that have high histamine content include alcoholic beverages, pickled or canned foods, smoked meat products, shellfish, and nuts.

8 tips to help prevent rosacea flare-ups

ROSEMONT, Ill. (March 12, 2019) — Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness to form across the nose and cheeks. According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology, multiple factors — including sunlight, stress, and many foods and beverages — can play a role in worsening rosacea symptoms. In addition to seeing a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment, patients can help control their condition and prevent it from getting worse by identifying and avoiding the things that cause their rosacea to flare.
“Rosacea makes the skin extremely sensitive, and as a result, many things — what we call triggers — can make the condition worse,” says board-certified dermatologist Arielle N.B. Kauvar, MD, FAAD. “Although triggers can vary from one person to the next, a good way to help pinpoint your triggers is to keep a journal of the things you eat and drink, the personal care products you use, and the things you’re exposed to that could cause your rosacea to flare. Once you have identified your triggers, it’s important to avoid them to prevent flare-ups.”
Dr. Kauvar recommends the following tips, based on common triggers, to help avoid rosacea flare-ups:

  1. Protect your skin from the sun. Sun exposure is one of the most common causes of rosacea flare-ups. Even people with dark skin tones can have a flare-up after being outdoors in the sun. To protect your skin, seek shade and wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UV protection, whenever possible. In addition, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin every day you’re going to be outside. Make sure the sunscreen is fragrance-free, and look for the active ingredients zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, as they are least likely to irritate sensitive skin.
  2. Minimize stress. If stress causes your rosacea to flare, find an activity that helps relieve your stress and do it often. Common outlets for stress include exercise, meditation, tai chi or joining a rosacea support group.
  3. Avoid overheating — even during exercise. Take warm baths and showers rather than hot ones, and sit far enough away from fireplaces, heaters and other heat sources so that you don’t feel the direct warmth. If you’re working out, keep supplies with you to help you cool down, such as a cold water bottle, or a towel that you can dip in cold water and drape around your neck. It’s also a good idea to dress in layers so you can remove clothing if you get too warm.
  4. Simplify your skin care routine. Skin care plays an important role in keeping rosacea under control, as many skin care products are too harsh for people with rosacea. When shopping for skin care products, look for mild, gentle formulas made for sensitive skin. Avoid any skin care products that contain menthol, camphor, sodium lauryl sulfate and alcohol, as these can trigger flare-ups. Products that contain retinoids can irritate your skin and may need to be avoided or used less frequently. In addition, be gentle to your skin and do not rub, scrub or massage your face.
  5. Opt for mild foods. Since spicy foods often trigger rosacea symptoms, opt for milder versions of your favorite dishes. If your rosacea still flares, it’s best to avoid spicy foods altogether.
  6. Opt for cold beverages. Studies show that the heat from hot beverages can cause some people’s rosacea to flare. Try iced coffee or tea instead, or let your beverage cool first before drinking it.
  7. Limit alcohol. When it comes to flare-ups from alcohol, red wine may be the biggest culprit. If you choose to drink, consider beverages other than red wine, and limit your intake to one or two drinks with a cold glass of water in between.
  8. Protect your face from wind and cold. Wearing a scarf is a great option for protecting your skin against the elements. Look for scarves made of silk or acrylic, and avoid wool and other rough-feeling fabrics, as these can trigger a flare-up.

“Without treatment, rosacea symptoms can worsen and include permanent redness, visible blood vessels, burning and stinging, and acne-like breakouts,” Dr. Kauvar says. “That’s why it’s important to see a dermatologist for treatment, as well as understand what causes your condition to flare and avoid those triggers.”
These tips are demonstrated in “How to Prevent Rosacea Flare-Ups,” a video posted to the AAD website and YouTube channel. This video is part of the AAD’s “Video of the Month” series, which offers tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the AAD website and YouTube channel each month.
More Information
Rosacea: Overview
Rosacea: Signs and symptoms
Rosacea: Who gets and causes
Rosacea: Diagnosis and treatment
Rosacea: Tips for managing
About the AAD
Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), Instagram (@AADskin1), or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).

If you have rosacea, you know how inexplicably your face can redden — even when you haven’t exercised or spent any time in the sun. Maybe you’ve deciphered some of your triggers (i.e. certain foods or lifestyle choices), but at other times, are you still puzzled about why your rosacea has flared up?

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Experts don’t have a clear understanding of exactly what causes this chronic skin condition, but they do know that it runs in families.

“A number of things commonly act as triggers for rosacea flare-ups and not everyone has the same triggers. But if an individual or physician can determine specific triggers, that person may have an easier time controlling rosacea symptoms,” explains dermatologist John Anthony, MD.

He says five of the most common triggers include:

1. Alcohol.

Alcohol can dilate the tiny blood vessels in the face, causing the face to flush. Drink in moderation only on special occasions, if at all. Not only can drinking alcoholic beverages cause this, but also topically applied alcohol in various facial cleansing products. Always check product ingredients and avoid those containing alcohol or other overly drying ingredients.

2. Spicy or hot foods and drinks.

Foods that contain spicy ingredients can affect the blushing areas of the face, leading to redness. If you love spicy food, go with mild spice and only enjoy these dishes on occasion. Since hot (temperature-wise) food and drinks often trigger facial flushing, you should allow your food or warm beverage to cool a bit before consuming.

3. Exercise.

Regular exercise is important for everyone, but also represents a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups. But don’t abandon your exercise routine. Rather, limit outdoor exercising to morning or evening hours to avoid midday heat and sun exposure. When exercising outdoors, use shaded trails for cycling or jogging. Always remember to keep yourself well hydrated.

4. Sun and wind exposure.

Sun exposure, hot and cold temperatures, and wind exposure frequently aggravate rosacea symptoms. Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen when outside, even on cloudy days. If possible, stay inside on particularly hot, humid days. If you must venture out in the cold or wind, cover your cheeks and nose with a scarf.

5. Anxiety and stress.

Stress and anxiety can cause rosacea symptoms to worsen, so use stress management techniques when needed. Make sure to get plenty of rest and practice deep breathing when you feel anxiety creeping up.

Rosacea: New treatments, natural remedies

Dermatologist-prescribed medications that you apply directly to the skin, called topical treatments, can help control rosacea symptoms and progression. Your physician may recommend an over-the-counter emollient cream to help repair the skin. For some forms of rosacea, you may need a topical or oral antibiotic to help control blemishes that occur during flare-ups.

“Two new treatments for rosacea include topical brimonidine, which helps control the redness of rosacea, and topical ivermectin, which helps with the papules and pustules that occur with some forms of rosacea,” says Dr. Anthony. These can complement many of the previously available treatments, when necessary.

He says that sulfur is a natural agent used effectively for many years as a home remedy for rosacea. You can purchase soaps and lotions containing sulfur in over-the-counter formulations at most pharmacies.

Dermatologists can remove thickening skin of the nose and flushing areas of the face using dermabrasion or electrocautery.

How to know if your rosacea is mild or severe

When discussing your rosacea with you, dermatologists ask how much the condition bothers you. Some patients don’t mind fairly extensive redness and pustules, while these symptoms affect others profoundly. “I tailor treatment to address the individual concerns of the patient,” says Dr. Anthony.

According to Dr. Anthony, rosacea most commonly appears on the face, but people can also experience symptoms on the neck, chest, scalp and ears. “When a person notices symptoms appearing in these other areas, it should prompt further evaluation by a medical professional,” he says.

Even less commonly, a form of rosacea called ocular rosacea can affect the eyes. Dr. Anthony considers this type more severe, warranting more aggressive treatment.

Talk to your doctor if you have frequent, unexplained flushing and prolonged redness in the facial area. A dermatologist can evaluate your condition, identify triggers and prescribe treatments to alleviate symptoms and prevent progression.

Why it’s important to treat rosacea

“The condition most commonly begins with frequent flushing of the facial skin and can progress, eventually causing the skin to appear red all the time,” says Dr. Anthony. Without treatment, you may begin to see a web of tiny blood vessels appear in the center of your face, usually the nose.

People with rosacea also may have thickening of the skin and frequent breakouts that are not due to acne.

2/5Discovering a giant pimple is definitely an unwelcome surprise, but at least I know that I have an arsenal of products and lifetime of tips to tame breakouts fast(ish). In my opinion, it’s almost worse to wake up with facial redness—the kind that no amount of BB cream or foundation can cover up—since it’s a constant battle that I never really know how to fight.

Relatable? Well, if the skin-calming effects of your serums and spa treatments feel fleeting, it’s because taming a crimson complexion often starts internally. “The skin is an external road map of what’s happening inside your body,” explains Corina Crysler, clinical nutritionist and owner of Moonshine Juicery. “Redness is mainly an indicator of long-term or chronic inflammation.”

The main culprits of angry skin are things that most of us experience on some level: Stress (both lifestyle and environmental), lack of sleep, and—this one’s key—a less-than-ideal diet. Inflammatory foods, deficiency in essential nutrients, dehydration, and allergic reactions can all contribute to redness, rashes, and broken capillaries, Crysler says.

Luckily, making a few simple tweaks to your grocery list can reduce the amount of inflammation in your body—and you’ll likely be able to see the effects on your face. Here, Crysler shares the best foods to eat and avoid for a calm, even complexion. Because, really, the only fiery thing on your face should be your go-to red lipstick.


What is flushing?

Flushing occurs because the blood vessels in the skin dilate. When flushing is produced by the 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.

  • Alcohol
  • Food additives
  • Eating
  • Neurological problems
  • Drugs
  • Other causes of flushing

Flushing related to alcohol

  • There is increased susceptibility to alcohol-related flushing in Asians, who have a defective enzyme (acetaldehyde dehydrogenase) leading to a build-up of acetaldehyde.
  • Tyramine or histamine in fermented alcoholic beverages (beer, sherry, wine) may induce flushing.
  • Occupational ‘degreaser’ flush occurs in workmen drinking beer after exposure to industrial solvents, such as trichloroethylene vapour, N, N-dimethyl formamide, and N-butyraldoxime.

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

  • Disulfiram
  • Chlorpropamide
  • Calcium carbamide (urea)
  • Phentolamine
  • Metronidazole
  • Cephalosporin antibiotics

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.

  • MSG (Monosodium glutamate) (E621 and 622) in large doses may cause “Chinese restaurant syndrome.”
  • Sodium nitrite (and nitrates) (E249, 250,251,252) in cured meats, frankfurters, bacon, salami, ham, may cause headache and flushing in some people.
  • Sulphites (potassium metabisulfite) (E224), found in beer, cider, wine, desserts, fried and frozen vegetables, fruit juices, frozen prawns and shrimps, and milk products, may cause wheezing and flushing.

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.

  • Hot beverages or food, or spicy food may cause flushing in otherwise normal individuals.
  • The auriculotemporal syndrome refers to one-sided flushing, heat, and sweating following parotid gland injury or surgery.
  • Gustatory flushing affects both sides of the face and is associated with excessive salivation, tear production and nasal secretion with no history of parotid gland injury. This may be reproduced by chewing a chilli pepper and holding it in the mouth for 5 minutes.
  • Dumping syndrome is the association of facial flushing with racing heart, sweating, dizziness, weakness, and tummy upset. Symptoms begin after gastric surgery and are provoked after a meal or ingestion of hot drinks or strong glucose. The syndrome becomes worse after the menopause.

Neurologic flushing

Neurologic flushing occurs in association with the following conditions.

  • Simple blushing due to embarrassment or anxiety
  • Brain tumours
  • Spinal cord lesions
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Migraine headaches
  • Parkinson disease

Drugs that may cause flushing

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

  • All vasodilators
  • All calcium channel blockers
  • Nicotinic acid (flush may be blocked with aspirin or indomethacin)
  • Morphine
  • Amyl nitrite and butyl nitrite
  • Cholinergic drugs
  • Bromocriptine
  • Thyroid releasing hormone
  • Tamoxifen
  • Cyproterone acetate
  • Systemic steroids
  • Ciclosporin.

Other causes of flushing

Rosacea is the most common skin condition that is associated with a tendency to flush easily. Other causes are listed below.

  • Drinking Kava
  • Scombroid fish poisoning results from bacteria acting on improperly refrigerated mackerel, tuna, and bonito fish. Histamine forms in the flesh of the fish. Combined with a toxin known as saurine, it can, when ingested, produce:
    • peppery taste
    • diarrhoea
    • mouth burning
    • hives
    • flushing
    • headache
    • sickness
    • vomiting
    • cramps.

    Note: cooking does not destroy the toxin, and even canned tuna may produce facial flushing.

  • Carcinoid tumour with liver metastases (secondaries); flushing is due to circulating serotonin
  • Phaeochromocytoma (an adrenal tumour); flushing is due to circulating catecholamines (epinephrine/norepinephrine)
  • Systemic mastocytosis; flushing is due to circulating histamine and is associated with low blood pressure (fainting) and breathing difficulties (bronchospasm).

Treatment of flushing

The treatment for flushing depends on the underlying cause.

If you’re in the club of the one in 10 British people dealing with the redness and inflammation that rosacea triggers, then you’ve likely started to think about switching up your diet to try and reduce your symptoms.

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So: what are the best ingredients to get in your shopping basket to calm your complexion – and is there anything to avoid?

Let’s dig into it.

The rosacea diet: what you need to know

What is rosacea?

Whether it’s a pinky blush to acne-like bumps, rosacea usually appears in the face – over the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead – and results in redness, acne, swelling and superficial dilated blood vessels.

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It may start as a slight flush, but over time it can get progressively worse and more apparent. However, some of the lesser known symptoms of rosacea are eye problems such as sensitivity to light, burning and stinging, and the thickening of the skin.

While it’s unclear exactly what causes rosacea, the effects can be debilitating for individuals.

What is the rosacea diet?

There’s no known ‘cure’ for rosacea, and the science is mixed on whether it’s a genetic issue or not.

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Good news is, there are ways to control your symptoms. Topical creams, antibiotics and laser treatments are often go-to solutions – but a tailored diet, skipping supposed ‘trigger foods’ and stocking up on ingredients that don’t work against the condition might be the answer.

Your rosacea diet plan

Doctors are still unsure about what causes rosacea, making it difficult to explain why things like weather conditions, physical activities and diet can make the symptoms worse.

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However, the basic understanding is that when you flush, the blood rushes to your face causing it to become red and warmer, and those with rosacea have a higher sensitivity to heat leading to inflamed skin.

While everyone is different when it comes to their ‘triggers’, the rosacea diet focuses on eliminating foods and ingredients that tend to exacerbate the symptoms.

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Nutritionist Vicky Pennington explains: ‘Triggers might vary from person to person, so it is useful to keep a log.

‘For example, spicy and alcohol might only be triggers in some people. There would be no harm in avoiding these two however.’

Foods to avoid: rosacea triggers

  • Spicy foods and ‘hot’ spices like paprika, cayenne, cumin and black pepper
  • Dairy – think yoghurt, cheese and sour cream
  • High histamine foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate and vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol (particularly red wine, champagne and beer)
  • Hot drinks, including tea, coffee and hot chocolate

Foods to eat on the rosacea diet

  • Leafy greens and whole grains
  • Nuts and berries
  • Lentils, asparagus and kale
  • Deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables such as sweet potato, broccoli and cauliflower
  • Fatty fish, such as wild salmon and mackerel
  • Chia flax seeds

Is the rosacea diet plan safe?

As long as you are getting sufficient nutrients from your diet, there is no need to worry that a rosacea diet is unsafe.

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In fact, similar diet plans have been recommended by various dieticians and nutritionists, including the Paleo, low GI and Alkaline diets as they also focus on whole foods, eliminate processed products or focus on balancing acidity.

Rosacea treatment – can diet really make a difference?

There is scientific evidence that probiotics may reduce symptoms of rosacea, and the National Rosacea Society survey reports that the majority of patients experience diluted symptoms once they change their diet.

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However, there is no solid scientific evidence that diet and rosacea are linked.

And if it does come into play, those with rosacea often have different food ‘triggers’ so it is always worth talking to a doctor and nutritionist to see if this method works for you.

Vicky advises: ‘One piece of advice which is the NHS gives is to keep a diary to identify any potential triggers.

‘But as rosacea is a medical skin condition, diet might only be one aspect.’

Now that you know about the rosacea diet, learn about how to deal with feeling constantly tired.

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