Certain foods can trigger rosacea symptoms, but as Utahns who love our staples like lime Jell-O and fry sauce, it can be difficult to determine which delicious (but guilty) pleasures are causing your rosacea flare-ups. To make things easier on you and your complexion, Dr. Robert Topham at Holladay Dermatology & Aesthetics has compiled this list of five popular food items that may cause rosacea flare-ups.
Reddened facial skin is the most common sign of rosacea, but other things can cause red skin, too, like embarrassment and sun exposure. Although they share similar symptoms, here’s how you can tell the difference.
Blushing is a physical reaction to an emotion, such as embarrassment or excitement, and it usually lasts for only a few minutes before quickly fading away.
Sunburn stems from overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays. It may cause redness, pain, itching, blistering, and peeling in the affected area and can last several days.
Rosacea is persistent facial redness with small bumps or pimples that may come and go over time. The condition may cause the skin around your nose to thicken and affect your eyes, depending on the type of rosacea.
Whichever type of rosacea you have, you likely notice that the symptoms come and go, but usually, they worsen over time. Dr. Topham can treat your rosacea, improve your complexion, and reduce your symptoms, but you also play a critical role in controlling your rosacea symptoms.
Because certain situations like stress and anxiety and certain environmental factors like cold temperatures and windy days can set off a rosacea flare-up, you can control your symptoms by controlling your exposure to these triggers.
Some foods are well-known rosacea triggers but aren’t the same for everyone.
5 foods that may be behind your rosacea flare-ups
If you’ve ever noticed that your rosacea worsens after you eat or drink, you’re onto something. Researchers confirm that ingredients can set off a chemical reaction in your body that exacerbates your rosacea.
Here are the top five dietary culprits.
1. Spicy foods
Spicy food can aggravate by raising your body's core temperature, triggering capillary dilation and an influx of blood toward your skin’s surface of the skin — flushing. This reaction triggers intense inflammation and redness in people with rosacea because your skin is already more prone to this reaction.
The main problem is the chemical capsaicin found in peppers, so you may need to avoid:
- Red pepper flakes
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
Horseradish and vinegar may also trigger a flare-up. Additionally, certain spices can irritate the skin and further exacerbate symptoms.
2. Foods that contain cinnamaldehyde
If you have rosacea, you may have overly sensitive receptors in your skin’s nerves that make your blood vessels dilate when they detect cinnamaldehyde, a nutrient found in:
- Citrus fruits
- Cinnamon oil
Manufacturers often use cinnamaldehyde as a preservative or antioxidant in packaged foods, so read labels carefully.
3. High-histamine foods
Your body releases histamines in response to allergens like pollen and mold, dilating your blood vessels and causing redness, itching, sneezing, and other symptoms. Some of the foods and drinks you consume also contain histamines, and if you don’t produce enough of the enzyme diamine oxidase to break down excess histamines, you may be facing a rosacea flare-up.
Foods high in histamines include:
- Aged cheeses
- Dried fruits
- Fermented foods like sauerkraut, alcohol, and kombucha
Even foods that don’t contain histamines can trigger your body to release a flood of histamines, including:
- Wheat germ
You may notice that some foods fall into more than one category. For example, alcohol is fermented, contains histamines, and triggers histamines. In fact, alcohol stands alone as a category of rosacea-triggering ingredients.
Alcohol can trigger your rosacea by amping up inflammatory chemicals like histamines, cytokines, and leukotrienes in your body, resulting in a flare-up of redness, swelling, and skin bumps.
Red wine tends to be the worst culprit for rosacea sufferers because it has more histamines than white wine, beer, and other spirits.
Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates you and makes matters worse. Avoiding alcoholic beverages or limiting your consumption may reduce the frequency of your rosacea flares.
Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and other dairy products may be what’s causing your rosacea flare-ups because they contain:
- Substances that stimulate inflammatory chemicals
- Hormones that cause inflammation
- Histamines (in cheese) that contribute to redness and swelling
- Molds or bacteria that can aggravate the skin
Eating a balanced diet and avoiding dairy may help reduce the frequency of rosacea symptoms.
If you need help managing your rosacea with diet and state-of-the-art treatments, such as our Excel V™ laser therapy, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation with Dr. Topham at our office in Holladay, Utah.