Can Diet and Skin Care Help Rosacea?

flushed cheeks
Rosacea causes redness and flushing of the cheeks. Gone Wild/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Frequent flushing, redness, red bumps, and dilated blood vessels around the nose and cheeks are hallmarks of rosacea, a chronic skin condition that affects over 16 million Americans. Rosacea may also result in a red, bulbous nose (known as rhinophyma) or a burning or gritty sensation in your eyes (known as ocular rosacea).

Treatment for rosacea typically involves the use of medication and/or avoiding triggers that worsen rosacea symptoms such as sun exposure, stress, alcohol, and spicy food.

In some cases, laser therapy may be suggested to reduce flushing and the appearance of blood vessels. (If it's left untreated, the condition may worsen, which may lead to more frequent or persistent flare-ups.)

In addition to treatment, some people try remedies and creams to reduce symptoms. Here's a look at the most frequently used remedies for rosacea:

1) Skin Cream

A number of skin care ingredients are sometimes used for reducing the redness and pustules associated with rosacea, based on their purported anti-inflammatory properties. The most common skin care ingredients include:

  • Green Tea
  • Licorice
  • Feverfew
  • Oatmeal
  • Aloe Vera
  • Chamomile
  • Honey
  • Niacinimide
  • Essential oils such as tea tree oil

A cream containing an extract of the herb golden chamomile (Chrysanthellum indicum) may help treat rosacea, according to a study published in Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

For the study, 246 people with rosacea used either a cream containing one percent Chrysanthellum indicum extract or a placebo every day for 12 weeks.

Results showed that the cream was significantly more effective than the placebo in reducing rosacea symptoms (including facial redness).

2) Diet

Anti-inflammatory Foods

In addition to topical skin creams, there's also evidence that following an anti-inflammatory diet may help manage symptoms. Research suggests that inflammation plays a key role in the development of rosacea.

While there's currently a lack of scientific support for the anti-inflammatory diet's effectiveness as a rosacea treatment, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet may help enhance your overall health and possibly protect against diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity.

Learn more about an anti-inflammatory diet.

Zinc

A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology examined the role of zinc sulfate in people with rosacea. After taking zinc sulfate three times a day for three months, participants had a significant decrease in disease activity compared to those who took a placebo. However, a later study published in the same journal didn't find greater improvement in rosacea severity with oral zinc therapy compared to a placebo.

An essential micronutrient for human health, zinc is found naturally in food such as oysters, beef, breakfast cereal, cashews.

Avoiding Trigger Foods

Foods that may worsen symptoms include hot drinks and beverages, spicy foods, and alcohol.

Since certain foods are thought to trigger the release of chemicals that dilate blood vessels and cause flushing, some people avoid these foods in an attempt to reduce symptoms.

One method of identifying food intolerances is through an elimination and challenge diet, which involves temporarily avoiding certain foods from the diet (such as milk or gluten-containing foods) for one to two weeks then systematically introducing them into the diet to isolate the foods that cause symptoms. Supervision by a health practitioner is recommended.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Rosacea may be linked to certain digestive disorders, according to a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. Researchers conducted a nationwide study and found that the prevalence of celiac disease, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, H. pylori infection, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) was higher among people with rosacea compared to the general population. 

3) Stress Management

Because stress is considered a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups, stress management techniques may help keep rosacea in check. For example, a report published in Dermatologic Therapy suggests that hypnotherapy may help improve symptoms in people with rosacea.

Bottom Line

For optimal treatment of rosacea, it's important to work with your healthcare provider and find out which lifestyle changes and treatments are most likely to be beneficial in managing your condition and be best suited to your particular needs.

Sources:

Bamford JT, Gessert CE, Haller IV, Kruger K, Johnson BP. Randomized, double-blind trial of 220 mg zinc sulfate twice daily in the treatment of rosacea. Int J Dermatol. 2012 Apr;51(4):459-62.

Egeberg A, Weinstock LB, Thyssen EP, Gislason GH, Thyssen JP. Rosacea and gastrointestinal disorders: a population-based cohort study. Br J Dermatol. 2016 Aug 8. 

Rigopoulos D, Kalogeromitros D, Gregoriou S, Pacouret JM, Koch C, Fisher N, Bachmann K, Brown M, Schwarz E, Camel E, Katsambas A. Randomized placebo-controlled trial of a flavonoid-rich plant extract-based cream in the treatment of rosacea. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2005 Sep;19(5):564-8.

Sharquie KE, Najim RA, Al-Salman HN. Oral zinc sulfate in the treatment of rosacea: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Int J Dermatol. 2006 Jul;45(7):857-61.

Shenefelt PD. Biofeedback, cognitive-behavioral methods, and hypnosis in dermatology: is it all in your mind? Dermatol Ther. 2003;16(2):114-22.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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