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:

  • redness
  • flushing
  • dryness
  • flaking
  • enlarged blood vessels
  • pimples
  • bumps

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.

Research shows that certain foods may trigger rosacea flare-ups. In an older 2005 survey by the National Rosacea Society, 78 percent of adults with rosacea reported making changes to their diet. Of this group, 95 percent said they experienced fewer symptoms as a result.

There may also be a link between gut health and rosacea. A large clinical study in Denmark found that a high number of adults with rosacea also had gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

The evidence isn’t conclusive, but nutritional supplements that contain healthy fats and other nutrients may help improve your rosacea or soothe dry and gritty eyes in adults with rosacea. These supplements may include:

  • 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. Foods that help promote good bacteria in the body may help reduce rosacea symptoms.

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:

  • Champagne
  • bourbon
  • gin
  • vodka
  • beer

Other beverages

Hot drinks such as tea, coffee, hot cider, and hot cocoa may also trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Spicy foods

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
  • jalapenos
  • hot sauce
  • tabasco pepper

Cinnamaldehyde foods

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:

  • cinnamon
  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate

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.