Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness on the face, and it can also appear on the arms, chest, ears, neck, or scalp.
If left untreated, the redness can worsen and give way to solid red bumps, pus-filed pimples, and the nose developing ‘rhinophyma’, which might give it a bulbous, swollen appearance. Other severe symptoms of this skin disease manifest in eyes becoming irritated and watery and developing styes.
Though rosacea is a chronic condition, it can be managed if you understand what triggers rosacea and how to stop it. Triggers can include food, heat, intense workouts, and sun exposure, basically anything that increases the blood flow to the skin.
Eating the wrong food can be detrimental to your rosacea treatment. So here are some types of food that you should be wary of:
1. Piping hot beverages
Here the trigger that might cause rosacea flare-ups is the temperature rather than the beverage. Since it might be hard to eliminate triggers altogether, try drinking them at a lukewarm temperature if you can. Another great idea is to substitute ice coffee for hot coffee, iced tea or hot tea, etc.
2. Spicy food
Spice can cause blood to flow up your skin and increase the risk of a rosacea flare-up. This is because spicy food triggers a histamine response that leads to the inflammation of the skin and face. So, if you’re used to adding hot spices like Cajun pepper, chilli pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce, or tabasco pepper to your food, it’s time to cut back and flavour your food with organic herbs instead.
According to research papers, alcohol can lead to inflammation and irritation of the outmost layer of the skin — which is called keratinocytes. Like spicy food can generate a histamine response. A histamine response causes inflammation of the skin as a side effect.
4. Food products with high-histamine
You should also be wary of other food products that have histamine in them, like tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolates, and nuts.
Dairy can cause rosacea outbreaks for some people — and it is suggested that you try individually to limit the quantities of yoghurt, milk, and cheese in your diet to make sure you know what is causing the rosacea flare-up, if any, for dairy.
If you think giving up dairy is hard, you can try and look for alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, and other plant-based, vegan options to supplement cheese and yoghurt in your diet.
You might panic at the thought of giving up chocolate, but one of the ingredients of chocolate is cinnamaldehyde causes dilation of blood vessels. You should be wary of consuming chocolate if you have rosacea.
7. High niacin containing foods
Food high in niacin, like poultry, tuna, and peanuts, is high in vitamin B3, which helps regulate the functioning of the nervous system, metabolism, and numerous other body functions. It also triggers cells that release compounds that increase redness, inflammation, and pain in our skin. So while it shouldn’t be completely cut out because of its benefits, you should definitely keep foods that are high in niacin at bay.
How to identify which food items trigger your rosacea
Other than eliminating the list of usual suspects stated above, you will only learn which other foods, if any, trigger a rosacea flare-up. Cut down the foods which you think are responsible for the rosacea flare-ups, and see your rosacea symptoms have improved.
Writing down what you eat every day and then noting the intensity of your rosacea symptoms will also help you understand your unique diet triggers for rosacea. You can stop eating a particular food item for a while and see if it lessens the intensity of your symptoms.
Ways to prevent your rosacea
1. Sun Protection
Sunlight is said to be one of the significant causes of rosacea. This leads to redness on your skin. Even when you treat the redness on your skin, you will still need to protect it from the sun.
Below are some points dermatologists recommend following every day:
- Whenever you step out, always apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Sunscreens can be irritable on some people’s skin. If that is the case, try the ones that contain only titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or both.
- Try to avoid the midday sun, and if that is not possible, do not leave your household without wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
2. Trigger management
Trigger management is essential to treat rosacea. Even when you treat the redness on your face, triggers can make it red again. To prevent it from happening, you need to observe what is triggering the redness on your skin.
Your skincare products affect your skin right from the beginning. Even your face cleanser contributes to the redness on your skin.
Rosacea-friendly skincare needs to include gentle products. Here are some tips:
- Use a mild face cleanser.
- Do not use your palm to apply it, instead use your fingers gently.
- Stay away from hot water and rinse your face with either lukewarm or cold water.
- Do not rub your face, gently pat it with a clean towel.
- Avoid toners, washcloths, and astringents as they contribute to the redness.
How can you treat rosacea?
Your doctor will treat be able to treat rosacea by controlling signs and symptoms. Here are the most common treatment options:
The type of medication you are prescribed depends on the intensity of your rosacea symptoms. For example, your doctor may prescribe a cream-like brimonidine and oxymetazoline to reduce the redness that works by constricting blood vessels.
Another topical medication that contains azelaic acid, metronidazole, and ivermectin is also prescribed for symptoms like redness and bumps.
If you have severe rosacea that doesn’t respond to other forms of treatment, your doctor might prescribe isotretinoin to help clear up rosacea scars that look like acne lesions. Other medicines include antibiotics like doxycycline to control moderate to severe rosacea with bumps and pimples.
Laser and other treatments
People who face constant redness on their face or visible blood vessels can seek laser treatment for its improvement. A laser clearing lasts for years, and some patients can see a complete clearance of redness.
Under skilled professionals, there are rare side effects that are only limited to redness and swelling. But without proper certification or medical knowledge, the side effects can rise into burns, blisters, skin discolouration, or even permanent scars.
You should consult your doctor to understand what are the best methods to bring your rosacea under control. A few medicines, along with lifestyle and dietary changes, can go a long way in preventing rosacea flare-ups.
Krishma Patel is the Co-founder and the Superintendent Pharmacist at MedsNow, an online pharmacy in the UK that provides health and wellness products and treatments along with free online consultations. She is passionate about showcasing the integral function community pharmacies can play in supporting the healthcare system and the NHS by providing patients with high quality, safe and discreet access to healthcare at their convenience. Along with being the co-founder of MedsNow, Krishma is also the Director and the Superintendent Pharmacist of Enimed Ltd., an independent pharmacy group comprising 32 branches.