Rosacea is a common skin condition in adults. It can look like blushing, a sunburn, or ruddiness. This chronic condition typically affects the center of the face — the nose, cheeks, and chin. It can also affect the eyes, ears, neck, and chest.
The main symptoms of rosacea are:
- enlarged blood vessels
Eye symptoms, when they occur, include redness, tearing, grittiness, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. Rosacea can also cause burning, itching, and swelling. In severe cases, it can lead to thickened skin and an enlarged, bulbous nose and chin.
The cause of rosacea isn’t known. It’s thought to be a response to ongoing inflammation in the body. Immune system changes and gut bacteria imbalance may also be factors.
There are various treatments available for managing rosacea, but what you eat may also help you reduce flare-ups.
There’s no cure for rosacea, but recommended treatments include:
- sun protection
- anti-inflammatory therapies, such as the antibiotic doxycycline and topical metronidazole
- diet and lifestyle changes
- other various prescription medications, such as azelaic acid and ivermectin
Light and laser treatments may also help.
There may also be a link between gut health and rosacea. A
The evidence isn’t conclusive, but
- omega-3 fatty acids
- zinc sulfate
Foods to balance gut microbiome
In some cases, rosacea is thought to be triggered by an imbalance in the microorganisms that live in our gut and on our skin.
These include fiber-rich foods, prebiotics, and probiotics. Prebiotic foods may help keep the gut environment healthy for good bacteria. Probiotic foods may help to add more good microorganisms to your intestines.
Certain foods can trigger or worsen rosacea in some adults. Avoiding or limiting these foods may help improve rosacea symptoms in some people.
A 2017 study on women indicated that alcohol intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of rosacea. Even a small amount of alcohol can trigger symptoms such as flushing and redness. This includes wine, hard liquor, and other alcoholic beverages such as:
Hot drinks such as tea, coffee, hot cider, and hot cocoa
An older 2005 survey of over 400 people by the National Rosacea Society found that spices and spicy food worsened symptoms in up to 75 percent of adults with rosacea. The common culprit is likely the chemical capsaicin, which gives these foods their heat.
Capsaicin affects the pain receptors in your skin that feel warmth. This may adversely affect rosacea. To limit capsaicin in your diet, you may choose to try to avoid certain spices and peppers.
- chili pepper
- hot sauce
- tabasco pepper
Cinnamaldehyde gives cinnamon its familiar pungent flavor. This compound causes a warming sensation that can trigger rosacea symptoms. It’s found in a range of foods:
- citrus fruits
Some medications may trigger rosacea symptoms. This may occur because some medications affect blood flow to the skin. They include:
- niacin (vitamin B3)
- sympathomimetics (blood pressure medications)
- topical steroids
Your dietary choices may help calm rosacea symptoms, as certain foods can affect inflammation and dilate blood vessels.
You likely won’t need to avoid all trigger foods. Some foods may cause flare-ups in some people with rosacea, but not in others. Just as with food allergies and other conditions, it’s important to determine which foods affect your symptoms.
Figuring out which foods to eat and which to avoid may take time and careful observation. Keep a daily food and symptom journal. Log everything you eat and drink, as well as any changes to your rosacea. Remove foods one at a time to see your body’s response to it.
Speak to your doctor or dietitian about the best diet for you. Ask about good food alternatives to help ensure that you’re eating a balanced daily diet.
It may take time and effort to make dietary changes a normal part of your daily lifestyle. Seek a community or online rosacea support group. Ask about easy recipes, meal ideas, and other tips for living with rosacea.