Researchers say polyphenols in caffeinated coffee can mitigate rosacea effects.
“This is certainly a surprising finding. While we believed that hot beverages were rosacea triggers, coffee is not something that’s been on our radar as ‘good’ for rosacea,” Dr. Rajani Katta, a board-certified dermatologist and author of “Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet,” told Healthline.
Coffee has previously been seen as a trigger for rosacea because the heat from the beverage can induce symptom flares.
However, the study authors found the polyphenols in caffeinated coffee could mitigate those effects at doses of four servings per day.
This is why caffeinated coffee, not decaffeinated, not tea, nor chocolate, proves effective.
Caffeinated coffee is further beneficial because it’s a vasoconstrictor, meaning it reduces the rush of blood to the skin’s surface.
It’s also full of protective antioxidants and has an immunosuppressant effect that can help curb inflammation.
Finally, the study authors said that caffeine from coffee can help balance hormone levels that are associated with rosacea, including adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.
What other experts say
Healthline spoke with dermatologists to see how these findings impact the advice they’ll give their patients with rosacea.
Dr. Patricia Farris, dermatologist and clinical associate professor at the Tulane University School of Medicine in Louisiana, told Healthline: “As a dermatologist, I find this study interesting but not all that helpful… I am not going to tell my patients to drink four cups of coffee a day to control their rosacea. Drinking this much coffee will probably give you the jitters and heart palpitations.”
Katta added that, along with jitters and heart palpitations, there are a number of other health concerns to consider when consuming such servings of caffeinated coffee.
First, she mentioned, is the fact that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.
Second, “many people find it hard to drink black coffee. Which means that many people will be adding sugar or cream to their coffee, and all of that extra sugar and cream adds up,” she noted.
Katta’s recommendation? Stick within the limits.
“So it’s very important to pay attention to what you’re adding into your coffee,” she said. “At two teaspoons of sugar per coffee, times four servings, you’re already at a higher level of sugar intake than is recommended by the World Health Organization. And if you’re consuming your coffee in the form of blended coffee drinks, it’s important to recognize that even a single blended coffee drink, such as when served by Starbucks, may have 16 teaspoons of sugar or more.”
“If you’re already drinking coffee, and love it, the results of the study provide reassurance that you can continue doing so, as long as you’re careful with the temperature of your coffee and with what you’re adding into your cup of morning joe,” Katta said.
While this news is bound to excite some patients with rosacea, dermatologists agree it’s not a suitable action plan for reducing risk.
Farris suggests a more practical approach, including topicals and laser therapies.
“For patients with facial redness, there are good topical medications that constrict blood vessels. The newest in the market, Rhofade, temporarily reduces facial redness and can be used safely every day,” Farris said.
“Lasers can also be used to reduce facial redness and are a great option for treating patients with rosacea.”
Katta places emphasis on following the basics of rosacea prevention.
“This includes avoiding triggers that are known to cause flares of rosacea, including excessive sun exposure, situations that lead to overheating (such as long hot showers and overheating while exercising), and food and beverage triggers,” she said.
The bottom line
Caffeinated coffee may help reduce rosacea risk, but the health concerns associated with drinking the recommended four servings per day may outweigh the benefits.
People with rosacea who consume coffee need to ensure it’s at a reduced temperature that won’t trigger symptoms.
Relief may be better found through topicals, laser treatments, and avoiding rosacea triggers.