8 Rosacea Facts and Myths

1. “Does Eating Certain Foods Cause Rosacea?”
Although diet has not been proven to be a direct cause of rosacea, certain types of food can certainly cause facial flushing and can make inflammation worse. In some individuals, spicy foods often produce flushing by releasing histamine or niacin. Foods that are eaten at high temperatures, such as hot soups, can also cause flushing by activating receptors in the back of your throat. In cases such as these, sipping and swallowing slowly with care can reverse this type of flushing.

Foods that can trigger a Rosacea flare-up include:

  • White pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Paprika
  • Red pepper
  • Cayenne pepper

Foods less commonly reported to trigger flare-ups include:

  • Avocadoes
  • Dairy products – sour cream, yogurt, cheese (especially parmesan)
  • Eggplant
  • Chocolate
  • Spinach
  • Soy sauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Yeast extract
  • Vinegar

2. “Exercise Causes Rosacea Flare-ups.”
An intense workout can often result in flare-ups, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the workout altogether. A simple solution would be to try exercising in a cool (air conditioned or fan equipped) environment for repeated short intervals. In addition make sure to stay adequately hydrated and keep sipping ice water if possible. The positive health benefits of exercise are abundantly clear, so it’s important to try exercising in a manner that is least offensive to the skin.

3. “Will Coffee Make Rosacea Worse?”
While it is once wildly believed that caffeine was a direct trigger for rosacea flare-ups, a study1 has shown that the heat from the drink stimulates receptors in the back of your throat, which produces facial flushing, not the caffeine itself. The study found that coffee consumed at room temperature (72 degrees) did not lead to flushing reactions. However, it was discovered that when drinking hot coffee or hot water, (heated to 140 degrees), the occurrence of facial flushing of similar types and intensity was significantly increased.

4. “Will My Rosacea Flare-ups Ever Go Away?”
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition, and if left untreated can get worse over time. However, taking preventive measures can reduce the occurrence of flare-ups. One of the most common triggers is sun exposure.

Here are a few precautions you should take before spending time out in the sun:

  • Limit sun exposure: keep in mind that UV radiation is the strongest between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Use the right sunscreen: Look for sunscreens that are labeled “Broad Spectrum”. They are often the most effective and offer protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • Cover up: Wrap-around sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers your arms and legs, can offer extra protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

In addition, if a good daily skincare regiment is followed along with early therapy treatments, it is possible to successfully control the associated symptoms. In more serious cases, repeated laser therapy can also reduce the intensity of facial redness.

5. “I Have Seen Some Horrible Pictures Of Rosacea. Is it Always Severe?”
There is quite a spectrum of rosacea severity. Some individuals experience only minor symptoms and occasional flare-ups while other individuals may experience severe inflammatory rosacea. However, no matter what the severity level is, early treatment combined with lifestyle changes has consistently shown to aid in the prevention and reduction of symptoms. Learn more about rosacea treatment options here.

6. “Rosacea Will Make Your Nose Grow”
Certain individuals with rosacea may develop a thick, bumpy and bulbous nose (rhinophyma). However, it is very uncommon and typically only affects middle-aged males.

7. “Are My Red, Irritated Eyelids Due To Rosacea?”
About 50% of those with rosacea suffer eye involvement, including such conditions as conjunctivitis, blepharitis, dry gritty eyes, and recurrent sties. Another common condition, called seborrheic dermatitis (an inflamed type of dandruff) also causes eyelid redness. Sore eyes can also be connected with rosacea.

8. “Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Rosacea?”
Drinking alcohol is not a direct cause of Rosacea. However, because rosacea is a vascular disease, it may illicit flare-ups because of the way it affects blood flow, Unfortunately this only plays a part in making the situation worse. While drinking heavily will not directly cause rosacea, it can make the symptoms much worse for individuals already suffering from the condition.

1. Wilkin J. Oral thermal-induced flushing in erythematelangiectatic rosacea. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 1981;76(1):15-18.