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Causes of rosacea

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In this Article

What can cause rosacea?
Causes of Rosacea
What Foods Can Cause Rosacea?
Can Bio Identical Hormones Causes Rosacea?
Can Flouride Cause Rosacea?
Can Sinus Problems Cause Rosacea?
Can Hot Showers Cause Rosacea?
Does Niacin Cause Rosacea?
Can Drugs Cause Rosacea?
Is Rosacea Caused by a Mite?
What Does Not Cause Rosacea?
What Causes Rosacea Symptoms?
What Food Can Improve Rosacea?

What can cause rosacea?

The exact causes of rosacea are not known. It’s an inflammatory disease. The targets of inflammation are blood vessels in the skin and eyes as well as glands of the nose. It’s possible to consider rosacea as an allergy where symptoms occur in the skin of the face and upper torso.

As with allergies, predisposition to rosacea runs in the families, mostly of North European origin. Additionally to the genetic component, there is an environmental factor. The people that live in cities have rosacea more frequently than people who live in the countryside.

The triggers of rosacea are environmental and lifestyle. For example, changes in weather such as extreme hot temperatures can trigger rosacea. Possibly the most frequent rosacea trigger is strong emotions. On the other hand, many skin care products or medications that widen blood vessels also trigger rosacea.

There are also types of food and drink that cause rosacea:

  • Any alcohol containing drink
  • Spicy food containing any sort of pepper
  • Food containing a compound that gives cinnamon its distinctive flavour

Causes of Rosacea

The causes of rosacea are not fully understood however there are things that are known to trigger Rosacea which we cover below.

Can Argan Oil Cause Rosacea?

Argan oil is shown to be beneficial for scalp and hair. However, as any organic product that contains a number of various compounds, it can cause allergy. There are reports that argan oil for the face can trigger rosacea, although there is no systematic research about it.

Can rosacea be caused by gluten?

In women, there is a strong link between rosacea and gluten intolerance. Gluten causes hyperactivity of the immune system increasing general inflammation. Inflammation of skin blood vessels leads to rosacea.

Probiotics are recommended in the cases of gluten-caused rosacea. It is also important to avoid red wine that can worsen gluten intolerance.

Does Stress Cause Rosacea?

Stress is one of the main causes of rosacea symptoms. For example, in one multicentre study, the most common factor aggravating rosacea was emotional changes (51.7%), followed by stress (48.4%).

Do Hormones Affect Rosacea?

Hormones play an important role in triggering rosacea. Stress is one of the most common factors causing rosacea flares. Stress is mediated by stress hormone, cortisol. Persistent stress elevates the level of cortisol and causes rosacea to become worse.

Another group of hormones, female hormones estrogens are also involved in rosacea. But they have the opposite effect. Changes in levels of female hormones affect rosacea. For example, during the time before menopause, perimenopause decline of estrogens causes the surges in hormones that normally regulate body temperature. This causes hot flashes typical for rosacea.

Does Proactive Cause Rosacea?

Clinical studies of patients have shown that active ingredient of Proactive, benzoyl peroxide can cause rosacea aggravation. Although the concentration of benzoyl peroxide in Proactive is lower than in most medications, there is still an adverse effect. If there is a suspicion that Proactive - or any other treatment - causes rosacea, the doctors recommend immediately discontinue it and find alternatives.

Can Over Exfoliating Cause Rosacea?

Rosacea is an inflammatory disease. Any harsh treatment of facial skin can cause inflammation, including over exfoliating that stripping the outer layers of skin. Can

Weightlifting Cause Rosacea?

Weightlifting involves strenuous exercise on the edge of tolerance. This causes general stress and skin flashes that can develop into rosacea. In cases of rosacea it is recommended to do moderate exercise and avoiding long workouts.

What Foods Can Cause Rosacea?

Diet can cause play a role with Rosacea and certain foods can trigger it. Below we explore the foods that have a reputation for causing Rosacea.

Can Wheat Intolerance Cause Rosacea?

Rosacea is associated with a number of immune system diseases such as allergies to various foodstuffs. It is shown that allergy is one of these diseases. Allergy causes general inflammation and rosacea is an inflammatory disease of the skin. Therefore, wheat intolerance can cause rosacea.

Can Dairy Cause Rosacea?

There is some evidence that dairy causes rosacea. The effect is prominent for people of Asian origin. For people of European descent, the negative impact of dairy on rosacea is less frequent. In fact, probiotics can reduce general inflammation and rosacea flares.

Can Eggs Cause Rosacea?

Egg white protein albumin can be an allergen and therefore can cause rosacea. However, for people who do not have an allergy, poached or scrambled eggs are beneficial as a part of a healthy diet.

Can Eating Strawberries Cause Rosacea?

Strawberries are a known allergen. It is also shown to induce rosacea in some cases. Therefore if you suspect that strawberries cause rosacea flare ups, you should discontinue eating them and observe the effects it has on your skin.

Can Hot Drinks Cause Rosacea?

Rapid changes in body temperature are one of the triggers of rosacea so hot drinks can be a trigger for rosacea. Especially if they contain stimulants that cause blood vessel dilation, for example, tea and coffee.

Can Alcohol Cause Rosacea?

Regular and/or excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the most frequent causes of rosacea. Alcohol causes rapid widening of the blood vessels, especially prominent on the face.

Can Coffee Cause Rosacea?

There are two reasons why coffee can cause rosacea. Firstly, it’s a hot drink and hot drinks, in general, can trigger rosacea in people with genetic predisposition to it. Secondly, coffee contains caffeine that rapidly dilates blood vessels.

Can Diet Deficiencies Cause Rosacea?

The deficit of several vitamins and microelements can cause rosacea. Vitamin B6, Selenium and Magnesium deficiency cause face blood vessels dilation e.g. symptom of rosacea.

On the other hand, treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency common in vegans and vegetarians can lead to rosacea.

In order to prevent rosacea flares, it is important to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Apart from meat and fish, wholegrain cereals such as oatmeal, wheatgerm, and brown rice as well as soya are good sources of vitamin B6. Magnesium is found in dairy, leafy vegetables, nuts and bread. Selenium is found in shellfish.

Can Spicy Food Cause Rosacea?

After heat and alcohol spicy food is the third main trigger of rosacea. Any food that contains a compound that is common in pepper, capsaicin, are likely to cause rosacea flare. This means that you have to avoid any type of pepper, even mild - white, black, cayenne, chili including chili oil, paprika, jalapenos.

The fourth 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, horseradish.

Can Bio Identical Hormones Causes Rosacea?

Bioidentical hormones have the same effect on rosacea as internal hormones. In some cases, female hormone imbalance can cause rosacea. In these cases, bioidentical hormones are prescribed to restore normal balance or, in the case of menopause, to replace normal hormones.

On the other hand, steroid hormones irrespective of their origin are one of the strongest causes of rosacea.

Can Flouride Cause Rosacea?

There are medical reports about cases of fluoride causing rosacea. While fluoride prevents dental decay by making teeth enamel stronger, it also irritates the skin of the mouth. Skin irritation can lead to inflammation that results in rosacea.

Can Sinus Problems Cause Rosacea?

There is a positive association of sinus inflammation or sinusitis with rosacea. This means that people with sinus problems have increased chances of developing rosacea. Steroid hormones that are often prescribed for treating sinusitis can also cause rosacea flares.

Can Hot Showers Cause Rosacea?

The hot temperature is the most frequent trigger of rosacea. Despite being less warming than taking a bath, hot shower heats body starting from skin quite quickly. It is recommended to use warm showers instead.

Does Niacin Cause Rosacea?

Niacin or vitamin B3 is shown to cause rosacea so make sure that you don’t consume an excessive amount of niacin. The obvious source of excessive niacin are breakfast cereals that are often fortified with vitamins including B3. Multivitamins of B-complex vitamins also contain too much niacin.

Can Drugs Cause Rosacea?

Any drug that causes rapid blood vessels dilation can cause rosacea. Prescription steroid hormones also can also cause rosacea flare ups. Before starting to take a drug check whether it has either of these.

Can Steroids Cause Rosacea?

Steroid hormones (steroids) often cause rosacea. Steroids induce general inflammation and as rosacea is a skin inflammation it can be a trigger.

Can Cortisone Injections Cause Rosacea?

Cortisone is a steroid hormone. Steroid hormones frequently cause rosacea. The higher is the concentration of the hormones, the stronger the rosacea symptoms can be, so hormone injection has a high chance of inducing rosacea.

Can Salicylic Acid Cause Rosacea?

Salicylic acid has a skin peeling effect. Therefore a treatment that includes salicylic acid will irritate skin and may trigger rosacea. High concentrations of salicylic acid or prolonged contact with it are more likely to cause rosacea.

Is Rosacea Caused by a Mite?

Dermodex mites that live on the skin in oil glands are associated with many skin diseases including acne and are found more frequently in people with rosacea.

Rosacea is an inflammation that can be triggered by external factors that activate the immune system, for example, hot weather or alcohol consumption. Skin mites, Demodex are associated with rosacea in some people. But rather than directly causing rosacea, these organisms increase general inflammation that worsens rosacea. Stomach bacteria Helicobacter has a similar effect.

What Does Not Cause Rosacea?

There is a lot of misunderstanding around Rosacea and what causes it. Below we look to uncover the false beliefs around the causes of Rosacea.

Can Accutane Cause Rosacea?

Accutane contains a derivative of vitamin A, retinoid isotretinoin. Isotretinoin is used in rosacea treatment. Some formulations of isotretinoin show anti-rosacea efficiency comparable to oral antibiotics. Therefore, it’s very unlikely that Accutane would have an adverse effect on rosacea.

Can olive oil cause rosacea?

Olive oil reduced symptoms of rosacea in a controlled clinical trial. Unless you use a lot of unrefined or extra virgin oil. Virgin oil contains various compounds in addition to the main olive oil compound, omega-3 fatty acids in your cooking, it is very unlikely that rosacea is caused by olive oil.

Can Antibiotics Cause Rosacea?

Antibiotics are often prescribed to reduce symptoms of rosacea as they reduce general inflammation. It is unlikely that antibiotics will cause rosacea. However, they can cause an allergy that looks like rosacea.

Can Dust Mites Cause Rosacea?

Dust mites are one of the more frequent causes of allergy. However, rosacea is not an allergy but a skin inflammation disease. Dust mites do not cause rosacea. It’s different mite that lives on skin, Demodex, that is associated with some rosacea cases.

Is Rosacea Caused by Cleft Lip and Palate?

Cleft lip and palate are developmental defects e.g. they happen when some genes work incorrectly during fetus development. This is not connected to rosacea, which is inflammation.

Is Rosacea Caused by Dehydration?

Dehydration on its own cannot cause rosacea. However, dehydration usually happens on hot days in the sun and these are shown to induce rosacea. For rosacea flare-ups prevention, it is important to stay hydrated and use sunblock and moisturisers on your skin, especially face.

What Bacteria Causes Acne Rosacea?

Although it is still called by its old name ‘acne’ rosacea has different causes than acne. No bacteria causes acne. Acne is an internal inflammation that is caused by the hyperactive immune system. The triggers of rosacea are environmental (hot weather) or lifestyle (alcohol, spices, medication).

Can Helicobacter Cause 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 because of its presence. Some but not all people with rosacea have helicobacter. It is 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. However, just as skin mites Demodex, helicobacter may increase general inflammation.

Can Emollients Cause 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. Emollients are formulated to decrease irritation and inflammation. It is unlikely that emollient will cause rosacea. However, for over the counter emollients make sure that it doesn’t contain other potentially irritating compounds such as perfume.

What Causes Rosacea Symptoms?

There are various things that can trigger Rosacea symptoms so we have listed the ones we know of below. 

What Causes Rosacea Bumps and Pimples?

Rosacea bumps or papules are swollen parts of small blood vessels, capillaries. When capillaries are inflamed they dilate and often become visible.

Rosacea is an inflammation of small blood vessels, capillaries. During inflammation 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. Rosacea starts with blood vessels inflammation. This causes small red bumps or papules. When they fill with pus which is dead immune cells attracted to the sites of inflammation papules form.

Is It The Facial Redness in Rosacea That Causes Pustules?

Facial redness is the first stage of rosacea. The small blood vessels, capillaries swell increasing the blood flow to facial skin. Next stage is red bumps on the skin - papules that are caused by local inflammation of the blood vessels. If the inflammation persists, it attracts immune cells. Dead immune cells accumulation causes pustules formation.

What is The Cause of Ocular Rosacea?

Rosacea is an inflammation of small skin blood vessels. When this condition is more severe, it involves eyes. Small blood vessels in the eyes also widen. They become inflamed, causing the eyes to appear red. People with ocular rosacea have dry eyes and eyelid inflammation, blepharitis.

What Food Can Improve Rosacea?

Diet rich in anti inflammatory food can improve rosacea symptoms. Green vegetables such as green beans, spinach, okra, cucumber are anti-inflammatory foods. Mango and berries are good as well.

There is an emerging evince that gut health is important in rosacea. Two ways to maintain gut health is eat fiber that is abundant in vegetables and helps good bacteria that live in the gut. Eating fermented foods will top up the good bacteria. These foods include yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, pickled vegetables, and fruits.

You may also be Interested in:


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Levin J. and Miller R. (2011) A Guide to the Ingredients and Potential Benefits of Over-the-Counter Cleansers and Moisturizers for Rosacea Patients. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2011 Aug; 4(8): 31–49. PMID: 21909456

Lee J.B et al. (2018) Epidemiological and clinical features of rosacea in Korea: A multicenter cross-sectional study. J Dermatol. 45(5):546-553. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.14281.

Nutrients. 2018 Jun 21;10(7). pii: E800. doi: 10.3390/nu10070800.

Rodrigo L. et al. (2018) Cutaneous and Mucosal Manifestations Associated with Celiac Disease. Nutrients. 1;10(7). doi: 10.3390/nu10070800.

Williamson T. et al. (2018) Rate of Adverse Events and Healthcare Costs Associated with the Topical Treatment of Rosacea. Am Health Drug Benefits. 10(3): 113–119. PMID: 28626508

Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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