Rosacea triggers vary from person to person, but can include heat, cold air, extreme exercise, sun exposure, emotions and stress, and medications. anything that increases blood flow to the surface of the skin. In some people, certain foods can make rosacea worse.
To be clear, foods do not “cause” rosacea. The exact cause of this condition is unknown. But certain foods and ingredients are known triggers.
The 6 foods to avoid when you have rosacea
1 Spicy foods
Whether you add hot peppers to your meals or order spicier dishes, spicy or hot foods can be one of the many underlying causes of your rosacea flare-ups. Cayenne pepper, red pepper, black pepper, curry, paprika, and other spicy ingredients can cause small blood vessels under the skin to dilate, leading to hot flashes. Reduce the amount of these spices when cooking and substitute them with other ingredients, such as oregano, sage, and basil. These ingredients can provide just the right amount of flavor, without contributing to skin redness.
Avoiding alcohol can also help control rosacea symptoms. The risk of flare-ups is higher with red wine, although symptoms can also appear with bourbon, gin, vodka, champagne, and beer. Alcohol causes blood vessels in the face to widen, which increases blood flow to that area.
3 hot drinks
Some people can’t start their day without a cup of coffee. And on a cold day, tea or hot chocolate can quickly warm up the body. But if you suffer from frequent rosacea flare-ups, eliminating hot drinks (which also increase blood flow to the face and hot flashes) may improve the appearance of your skin. This doesn’t mean you have to give up coffee or tea, but iced coffee or iced tea might be a better option.
4 Histamine-Rich Foods
Fruit isn’t just full of nutrients and antioxidants. Some fruits are also high in histamine. It is an organic compound that triggers an immune system response. Histamine causes vasodilation, or relaxation of blood vessels, which has the effect of exacerbating or breaking out rosacea. When the blood vessels in the face dilate, redness follows. Fruits that can trigger this type of reaction are tomatoes, pineapples, strawberries, papayas, and red plums. Remember that fruit is not the only type of food that can release histamine. Eggplant, spinach, mushrooms, shellfish, legumes, alcohol and fermented foods (aged cheese) are other triggers.
5 Dairy products
Dairy products like yogurt, cream, and cheese are also triggers for some people. Dairy products are a good source of vitamin D and calcium, but it is also an inflammatory food. Due to the inflammation, you may notice increased facial redness and swelling. Removing dairy products from your diet can reduce redness and other rosacea symptoms. Easier said than done, of course, but if you can’t completely eliminate dairy, try cutting back. Replace cow’s milk with rice, almond or soy milk. Look for dairy-free substitutes for ice cream, yogurt, and cheese.
The thought of giving up chocolate can make you panic. But chocolate makes rosacea worse in some people because it contains cinnamaldehyde, a compound that gives cinnamon its taste. It can cause dilation of blood vessels, which leads to redness on the skin.
Strategies for Identifying Rosacea Triggers
It can be difficult to identify foods that trigger rosacea. Try using an ‘at a glance’ calendar and keeping track of what you eat, as well as your worst days for rosacea flare-ups. If your rosacea shows up early in the week but subsides during the week, focus on your weekend habits. But if the week is off to a good start and your skin spirals out of control during the week, take a close look at your weekly habits. By reviewing your food diary, you may discover that several foods cause flare-ups, or you may conclude that foods do not affect your condition.
What foods can help you when you have rosacea?
Just as certain foods can trigger an inflammatory response and fuel rosacea, other foods can help your body fight inflammation and reduce rosacea symptoms. Some studies have linked a higher prevalence of gastrointestinal disorders and bacterial overgrowth in our gut to rosacea flare-ups. With this in mind, a high-fiber diet (a prebiotic diet) can actually help reduce flare-ups and inflammation. Prebiotic fibers include onions, raw garlic, bananas, endives, asparagus, and whole grains.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce inflammatory proteins in the body and improve eye symptoms of rosacea. In a 2016 study published in Current Eye Research, 130 people with ocular rosacea were given dietary omega-3 fatty acids for a period of six months. Symptoms included a lumpy sensation, itching, burning and eye redness. After six months, participants reported significant improvement in their eye symptoms. In addition to supplements, other sources of omega-3s include wild-caught salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Final words on diet for rosacea
Identifying rosacea triggers takes time, but writing down everything you eat and drink, and then writing down your symptoms, can help you identify problem foods.
If you think the food is the culprit, an elimination diet can confirm it. Stop eating a certain food for a while to see if symptoms improve, then reintroduce that food into your diet to see if your symptoms return.