Rosacea is a skin condition that leads to skin redness and inflammation, especially around the cheeks and nose. The exact reasons are unknown, but it is known that it’s an inflammatory disease. In this case, the targets of the inflammation are the blood vessels in the skin of the face and upper torso.
Is Rosacea Hereditary?
As with some allergies, predisposition to rosacea runs in families, mostly of North European origin. If you have a close member of the family with the condition, you're more likely to also have it than someone who doesn't.
What Causes Rosacea Flareups?
The triggers of rosacea can be both environmental and lifestyle. For example, changes in weather, such as extreme hot or cold temperatures can trigger an attack. Hot, spicy foods, being stressed, exertion or drinking alcohol can do the same, as can using harsh skincare products.
We know that having rosacea can be upsetting and can even affect your mental wellbeing and social life. So here, we're going to look at some of the common causes of rosacea, so that you can look at your diet and lifestyle to see if you can make some changes that may help your condition.
Lifestyle: What Are Common Causes of Rosacea?
The root cause of rosacea may not yet be fully understood. However there are known triggers that can lead to it becoming worse. Here's some of the most common.
Can Stress Cause Rosacea?
Feeling stressed or anxious releases hormones such as cortisol, and can lead to a build up of inflammation. This inflammation can then lead to the familiar redness, flushing, burning and irritation of rosacea.
It’s almost impossible to lead a stress free life, but managing it can help to manage rosacea symptoms. Practicing regular mindfulness and yoga is helpful for some people in dealing with stress and anxiety.
Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, can also make a significant difference and anxiety levels. Speaking to your GP about supporting your mental health is a good place to start.
Is There a Link Between Hormones and Rosacea?
Another group of hormones, female oestrogens are also involved in rosacea, with fluctuations in levels affecting the skin, such as during the menstrual cycle. Also, during the perimenopause and menopause the decline of oestrogens causes a change in how we regulate body temperature, leading to hot flushes that are typical for both the menopause and rosacea.
Can Hot Showers Aggravate Rosacea?
Hot temperatures are the most frequent trigger of rosacea so avoid overly hot showers and baths and have warm ones instead.
Does Benzoyl Peroxide Trigger Rosacea?
Clinical studies suggest that benzoyl peroxide, an ingredient used to treat acne, can aggravate rosacea-prone skin. Although the concentration of benzoyl peroxide in most skincare products is low, there can still be an adverse effect. If you suspect that acne treatment is causing rosacea, we suggest switching to a different acne treatment.
Can Over Exfoliating Irritate My Skin?
Any harsh treatment of your face can lead to irritation, including over exfoliating and stripping the outer layers of skin. We recommend exfoliating with a gentle fruit aha such as salicylic acid, once a week.
How About Exercise?
Getting too hot by being very active, such as performing fast, high impact sports including running and playing tennis will cause the skin to react with flushing, redness and irritation. Sweating can also block the pores, leading to further spots and redness.
Whilst we’re all for exercise due to its physical and emotional benefits, if you find that certain sports or exercise make your skin feel worse, then it might be best to try a gentler, more moderate exercise and avoid very long, sweaty workouts.
What Foods Cause Rosacea?
Diet can play a role in rosacea and certain foods can trigger it. Below we explore the common foods that may be affecting your skin.
Can Gluten Cause Rosacea?
In women, a strong link between rosacea and gluten intolerance has been discovered. In those with a known intolerance or sensitivity, it causes hyperactivity of the immune system. This increases levels of inflammation, and as we know, this leads to rosacea.
If possible, avoid eating gluten, if necessary, under the guidance of a nutritionist.
Can Rosacea Be Caused By Allergies to Wheat?
Rosacea is associated with a number of immune system disorders, including allergies to various foodstuffs including wheat.
Does Dairy Cause Rosacea?
There is some evidence that dairy can lead to rosacea flareups, most prominently in people of Asian origin. For people of European descent, the negative impact of dairy on rosacea tends to be less severe. Either way, if you suspect it may be leading to your symptoms, speak to a nutritionist or take steps to avoid it.
Eggs and Rosacea: Is There a Link?
Egg whites contain a protein called albumin which can be an allergen to some. Therefore, theoretically, if you have an intolerance or sensitivity to eggs, consuming them could be affecting your skin.
Can Eating Strawberries Lead to Rosacea?
Strawberries are an allergen to some, and can lead to skin irritation. Therefore if you suspect that strawberries trigger your rosacea flare ups, you should stop eating them and observe the effects it has on your skin.
Does Coffee Make Rosacea Worse?
Rapid changes in body temperature can trigger rosacea, and drinking hot drinks can therefore be unhelpful. Especially if they contain stimulants that cause blood vessel dilation, for example, the caffeine in tea and coffee, so try to keep them to a minimum.
Is Alcohol Induced Rosacea a Thing?
As well as hot or caffeinated drinks, be wary of alcoholic drinks. Alcohol can lead to a rosacea flare up because it dilates (expands) the tiny blood vessels in the face, allowing more blood flow to the face, which encourages redness and facial flushing.
Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and try to limit it to social events and weekends. You may find that ‘lighter’ options such as lower alcohol beers, white wine over red wine and light spirits over dark may help to limit the effects on your skin if you do drink alcohol.
Can Diet Deficiencies Affect My Skin?
Being deficient in certain micronutrients, including vitamin B6, selenium and magnesium can cause the blood vessels in the face to dilate more, which is the main symptom of rosacea.
In order to prevent rosacea flareups, it's important to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Apart from meat and fish, wholegrain cereals such as oatmeal, wheatgerm and brown rice are good sources of vitamin B6. Magnesium is found in leafy vegetables, nuts and bread while selenium is found in shellfish.
Can Spicy Food Trigger Rosacea?
Hot, spicy food is a main trigger of rosacea. Any food that contains a compound capsaicin, the main component of pepper, is likely to lead to a rosacea flareup. This includes all types of pepper, even mild, including white, black, cayenne, chilli. paprika and jalapeños.
Another common cause is another plant compound used in food called cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde is found in warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger, fenugreek, cloves, mustard and horseradish.
Does Niacin Trigger Rosacea?
Niacin, or vitamin B3, can trigger rosacea so make sure that you don’t consume an excessive amount. A common source of excessive niacin are breakfast cereals that are fortified with vitamins including B3. Multivitamins and B-complex vitamins also contain high levels of niacin.
Can Extremes of Weather Lead to Facial Flushing?
Our faces are constantly exposed to the elements when we’re outside, and the ravages of central heating and air conditioning when we’re inside. These extremes in temperatures can affect our skin, causing it to feel dry and parched, and if we have rosacea, it can cause it to flare up.
If we get too hot, we can experience worse facial flushing as our blood vessels dilate as our body temperature increases.
So definitely avoid getting hot, sweaty and sunburnt. Wear loose layered clothing made from natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, hemp and bamboo to help you stay cool and protected from the sun.
On the other extreme, wrap up well against the wind, rain and cold too. A scarf wrapped around your face if you’re outside can help to protect you from the worst of the weather.
Can Drugs Trigger Rosacea?
Any drug that causes rapid blood vessel dilation can trigger rosacea. Prescription steroids including cortisone injections can also lead to rosacea flareups. Check with your GP or pharmacist to see if any of your medications may be contributing to your skin redness.
Is Salicylic Acid Good for Rosacea? Or Bad?
Salicylic acid has a gentle skin peeling effect. Therefore a treatment that includes salicylic acid may irritate the skin and trigger rosacea. High concentrations or prolonged contact with it are more likely to trigger rosacea, so opt for low level concentrations and use sparingly.
Is Rosacea Caused By Mites?
Demodex mites live naturally on the skin in the oil glands. But in some, they're associated with acne and are found more frequently in people with rosacea. It's thought that they lead to inflammation, that in turn can lead to rosacea symptoms. The stomach bacteria, Helicobacter, can have a similar effect.
Can Helicobacter Trigger Rosacea?
Helicobacter pylori is a usual passenger of the human digestive tract. It can cause stomach ulcers in some cases but most people don’t have any adverse effects due to its presence.
Some but not all people with rosacea have helicobacter. It's been shown that antibiotic treatment that alleviates rosacea symptoms does not always remove helicobacter. This means that rosacea and helicobacter are not connected in many cases.
Common Misconceptions Around the Symptoms of Rosacea
Unfortunately, there's a lot of misunderstanding around rosacea and what causes it. Here's some common untruths about the condition!
Can Accutane Aggravate Rosacea?
The topical acne treatment, Accutane, contains a derivative of vitamin A, a retinoid called isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is also sometimes used as a rosacea treatment, therefore, it’s very unlikely that Accutane would have an adverse effect on rosacea.
How About Olive Oil?
Unrefined olive oil can reduce symptoms of rosacea so it's very unlikely that rosacea is caused by olive oil.
Can Antibiotics Trigger Rosacea?
Antibiotics are often prescribed to reduce symptoms of rosacea as they reduce general inflammation. It's unlikely that antibiotics will aggravate rosacea.
Can Dust Mites Cause Rosacea?
Dust mites are one of the more frequent causes of allergies. However, dust mites do not lead to rosacea, rather, it's a different mite that lives on the skin, Demodex, that is associated with some rosacea cases.
Is Rosacea Caused by Dehydration?
Dehydration on its own cannot trigger rosacea. However, dehydration usually happens on hot days in the sun and these are shown to induce rosacea. Therefore, it's important to stay hydrated and avoid the sun when it's at its strongest between 11am and 3pm.
Can Emollients Lead to Rosacea?
Emollients are moisturising treatments applied directly to the skin to soothe and hydrate it. They cover the skin with a protective film to retain moisture. They're formulated to decrease irritation so it's unlikely that an emollient will lead to rosacea.
However, when choosing over the counter emollients, make sure that they don’t contain other potentially irritating compounds such as perfume.
What is the Main Cause of Rosacea Symptoms?
As we mentioned at the beginning, the cause of rosacea is unknown. There are various things that can trigger this common skin complaint, each person may have their own, different trigger. But here's some answers to some common questions surrounding the signs and symptoms of rosacea.
What Triggers Rosacea Bumps and Pimples?
Rosacea bumps or papules are swollen small blood vessels, called capillaries. When capillaries are inflamed they dilate and often become visible.
Rosacea is essentially inflammation of the capillaries. During this process, the vessels first widen, then they form red bumps that are called papules.
What Causes Rosacea Pustules?
The most advanced stage of rosacea is pustules. When papules fill with pus, angry, red papules can form.
Does Facial Redness Cause Pustules?
Facial redness is the first stage of rosacea. The small blood vessels, or capillaries, swell. In doing so, the blood flow to the facial skin is increased. The next stage is red bumps on the skin - papules that are caused by local inflammation of the blood vessels. If inflammation persists, it attracts immune cells. Dead immune cells accumulate and form pus which fills the papules, and then pustules form.
What is The Cause of Ocular Rosacea?
When the condition is more severe, it may involve the eyes. Small blood vessels in the eyes can also widen and become inflamed, causing the eyes to appear red. People with ocular rosacea have dry eyes and eyelid inflammation, blepharitis.
What Food Can Improve Rosacea?
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can improve rosacea symptoms. So fill your plates with plenty of fruits and vegetables each day.
There is emerging evidence that gut health is important in rosacea. Two ways to maintain gut health is eat fibre-rich foods including wholemeal grains and starchy vegetables, and fermented foods to top up the good bacteria, including yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir and pickled vegetables.
Can Skin Care Help My Type of Rosacea?
Yes! The Sönd alkalising skincare range has been developed with skin just like yours in mind. Soothing and nourishing, it'll feed your skin with exactly what it needs to stay happy and healthy.
You may also be Interested in:
- What are Common Rosacea Symptoms
- Rosacea Skincare Routine
- Topical Treatments for Rosacea
- Alternative Treatments for Rosacea
How do I know if I have rosacea?
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.