Facial Rosacea vs. Ocular Rosacea and How Your Diet Can Help
Should You Go on a Rosacea Diet?
While no specific rosacea diet will work for everyone, avoiding trigger foods and adding more rosacea-friendly choices may help you calm rosacea redness.
By Regina Boyle Wheeler
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Passing on foods that trigger flushing and choosing ones that may help fight inflammation could be the recipe for a good rosacea diet. Figuring out the foods that are your personal triggers for rosacea can help you better manage the skin disease and avoid red face flares. Consider keeping a food diary to see if you can identify what foods affect your rosacea.
"Certain foods can cause increased facial flushing by dilating facial blood vessels," says Jill Waibel, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami. and on volunteer faculty at the University of Miami School of Dermatology. Dr. Waibel says food triggers for rosacea vary from person to person, but notes that alcohol, especially red wine, is a classic trigger that can worsen facial flushing.
While red wine was named the top alcohol trigger, other alcohol products (including beer, bourbon, gin, vodka, and champagne) have also been identified as rosacea triggers, according to data collected by the National Rosacea Society.
Rosacea Diet: Food and Beverage Triggers
Besides alcohol, there's a long list of food triggers that are generally troublesome for rosacea. The top culprits include:
- Spicy foods.Examples are hot sauces, vinegar, hot spices, and meat marinades.
- Hot drinks. Hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee, and tea are suspects. "It's the temperature of the coffee or tea rather than the caffeine that cause the blushing in patients," says Waibel. She explains that warmer temperatures cause the blood vessels to dilate and release heat, which then causes the face to turn red.
- Dairy foods. Yogurt, sour cream, and cheese (except cottage cheese) may need to be removed or curtailed from your diet for rosacea if they tend to be triggers for you.
- Foods that are high in the chemical histamine.This includes foods pickled with vinegar, citrus fruits (including tomatoes), chocolate and cocoa, nuts, beans, and legumes.
According to the International Rosacea Foundation, high calorie carbohydrate foods, like sugar, pasta, and bread, can be triggers for rosacea as well.
Waibel says dermatologists recommend that people avoid obvious triggers in their rosacea diet, but it's not necessary to completely deprive yourself. "We have very effective treatments for rosacea so patients may enjoy a healthful glass of wine or cheese in their daily lives." She adds that laser and light therapy are very effective treatments for rosacea, and topical and oral treatments are available as well.
Foods to Add to Your Diet for Rosacea
"Any foods that decrease inflammation [redness, swelling, and heat] may improve rosacea," Waibel says. She notes that foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as enriched eggs, flaxseed oil, and cod liver oil supplements have anti-inflammatory effects.
Here are more food suggestions from the American Dietetic Association that may help fight inflammation:
- Whole grains, such as oatmeal and brown rice
- Nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and pistachios
- Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and mackerel
"Blueberries and other berries are excellent sources of natural antioxidants and contribute to the overall health of skin and all organs," says Waibel. They also help fight sun damage. "Generally fruits and vegetables benefit the skin by providing optimal health and keeping medical issues controlled. Vitamin A (found in carrots) helps clear acne and keeps skin healthy," she adds.
Hydrochloric acid and vitamin B complex have been reported to improve rosacea symptoms in people with low stomach acid, but talk to your doctor before trying this. Some people also tout the benefits of probiotics for rosacea. "There are no studies at this time indicating that hydrochloric acid supplements or probiotics help rosacea — stay tuned, we are learning more every day," Waibel says.
Video: Ocular Rosacea Treatment, Triggers, Diet, Causes, Definition, and Cure
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