Rosacea Diet: What's the Evidence?
The perfect “rosacea diet” is one that makes you feel great, is easy to follow and includes foods that you love.
That may seem generic, but it is important to find out what works for you. This often involves some trial and error. If you are looking for a strict rosacea diet including a full of lists of foods you can’t eat – look elsewhere. There is no one-size-fits-all rosacea diet here. Instead, this article offers a basic guide to isolating your individual triggers for rosacea. The rosacea treatment that works for you may not work for someone else.
Rosacea Dietary Triggers
There is little evidence to support the restriction of certain food groups to minimize rosacea flare-ups. However, if you suspect certain foods are causing a flare-ups for you, the best thing to do is to keep a food journal. List (exactly) what you've eaten and when, and note any exacerbation of symptoms you notice throughout the week. If a trend emerges, you can try cutting out the suspected food to see if there is improvement.
We highly recommend seeing a registered dietitian if you are cutting out multiple foods or an entire food group. The National Rosacea Society has a diary booklet you can use here.1 According to a survey of 1,066 rosacea patients, completed by the National Rosacea Society, the most common food and beverage triggers are: 2
- Spicy foods
- Heated beverages
- Marinated meats
- Some fruits and vegetables (only in 9-13% of those surveyed), especially citrus items and tomatoes.3 This is very individual – use a rosacea diet food journal if you suspect a fruit or vegetable is a trigger for you.
Other foods and beverages you might want to pay attention to are listed here.4 However, listening to your body is critical: few (if any) of these foods may be affecting your rosacea. There is limited evidence that dietary strategies help reduce rosacea flare-ups.5 Suspected trigger foods are commonly scrutinized when a flare up occurs, but evidence is still lacking to prove that there is any effect.6
While oral herbal remedies, including feverfew, licorice and lavender (among others), are often recommended for reducing rosacea symptoms. There is no evidence – at this time – that they actually help reduce symptoms.5 Herbal supplements can also be very expensive and interact with certain medications. If you plan to start taking a herbal supplement, as always, talk to your doctor first.
Rosacea Diet and Probiotics
Lets talk bacteria! We love probiotics: kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc. – we love them all. And, it just so happens, that there is preliminary evidence to suggest that probiotics may play a role in reducing rosacea symptoms.7 While more research needs to be done in this area before we can truly determine if probiotics are helpful, we recommend trying to consume food sources of probiotics each day. Probiotic foods are part of a healthy rosacea diet. Give them a try!
Rosacea Diet or Stress?
If you are committed to improving the health of your skin, make a commitment to reduce your stress levels. While stress is not directly rosacea diet related, it can affect digestion and may worsen rosacea symptoms. Take time for yourself and do some reading, stretching, physical activity or yoga on a regular basis. Stress management comes in a variety of forms, and can improve your overall health. Find what works for you.
In general, you should avoid rosacea diets that cut out entire food groups or restrict large lists of foods. See a registered dietitian if you are planning on cutting out multiple foods to ensure your rosacea diet still meets your nutrient requirements.
Most importantly, make sure you are enjoying your food! Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and a balanced diet should never be an additional source of stress.
Vancouver dermatologist Dr. Jason Rivers has created a range of skincare products to help the patients in his Vancouver clinic manage facial redness. He is offering a free, 15-day supply of his Redness Control line for a limited time.
Please check out some of our other resources here:
- National Rosacea Society. (n.d.) Rosacea Diary Booklet. Retrieved from http://www.rosacea.org/patients/materials/diary/diarypage.php
- National Rosacea Society. (n.d.) Rosacea Triggers Survey. Retrieved from http://www. rosacea.org/patients/materials/triggersgraph.php
- Keri, J. E., & Rosenblatt, A. E. (2008). The role of diet in acne and rosacea. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol, 1, 22-26.
- National Rosacea Society. (n.d.) Factors that may trigger rosacea flare-ups. Retrieved fromhttp://www.rosacea.org/patients/materials/triggers.php
- Dietitians of Canada. (2007, September 24). Is there a relationship between the intake of specific foods, nutrients or herbs and the management of rosacea? In Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition [PEN]. Retrieved from: http://www.pennutrition.com./Knowledge Pathway.aspx?kpid=6751&pqcatid=146&pqid=6716. Access only by subscription.
- van Zuuren, E.J., Gupta, A.K., Gover, M.D., Graber, M. & Hollis, S. (2007). Systematic review of rosacea treatments. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 56(1), 107-15.
- American Academy of Dermatology. (2014, Feb 3). Could probiotics be the next big thing in acne and rosacea treatments? Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/stories-and-news/news-releases/could-probiotics-be-the-next-big-thing-in-acne-and-rosacea-treatments