As a common skin condition often manifesting in adults over the age of 30, rosacea typically affects central areas of the face and can contribute to patients’ decreased self-esteem and thus, quality of life. Although the root cause of the cutaneous disorder remains unknown, several factors are believed to contribute to its development, including inflammation, immune system function, and gut microbiome imbalances. Currently, therapeutic options include the prescription of antibiotic doxycycline and topical metronidazole, azelaic acid, ivermectin, as well as the administration of light and laser therapies. However, easily modifiable lifestyle factors, such as dietary interventions, may also help reduce rosacea symptoms and flare-ups.
Evidence Connects Diet and Rosacea
Prior research has shown the certain foods may trigger rosacea symptoms. A survey conducted by the National Rosacea Society reported that 78% of adult respondents with rosacea have made changes to their diet as a result of their condition. In this group, up to 95% of participants experienced fewer symptoms as a result of their modifications.
In addition, emerging studies implicate that there may be a link between gut health and rosacea; a Danish clinical trial revealed that a high number of adults with rosacea also presented with gastrointestinal disorders including celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. These findings further validate the connection between nutritional factors and skin health in cases of rosacea.
Beneficial Dietary Factors
Although, the body of evidence exploring the connection is inconclusive. Nevertheless, many experts argue that nutritional interventions may help manage the condition. Some believe that
nutritional supplements containing healthy fats may help improve rosacea and its symptoms, including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc sulfate.
In cases in which rosacea is caused by imbalances in the gut microbiome, foods that promote good bacteria in the body may help reduce symptoms. Some of these include fiber-rich foods, probiotics such as yogurt, kefir, and miso, as well as prebiotics such as bananas, onions, leeks, asparagus, garlic, and whole grains.
Further strengthening the association between diet and rosacea, certain foods have been found to potentially aggravate rosacea symptoms or trigger flare-ups. Alcohol has been reported to trigger rosacea symptoms in up to 50% of adults, even when consumed in limited quantities. Other beverages, hot drinks such as tea and coffee, can also trigger flare-ups.
Another well-known trigger of rosacea are spicy foods, which have been found to worsen symptoms in up to 75% of adult patients. The common culprit is capsaicin, affecting pain receptors in the skin to cause a feeling of warmth, which adversely effects rosacea-prone skin. Limiting foods containing capsaicin is recommended; patients are advised to avoid spices and peppers such as chili pepper, jalapenos, hot sauce, and tabasco pepper. Similarly, the compound cinnamaldehyde found in tomatoes, cinnamon, chocolate, and citrus fruits can cause a warming sensation triggering symptoms.
Overall, dietary interventions and modifications may help ease rosacea symptoms as certain trigger foods are known to contribute to inflammation and dilate blood vessels, thereby aggravating the skin. However, further research is needed to confirm the direct association between nutritional patterns and rosacea as well as to better elucidate the connection between the gut microbiome and skin health.