Rosacea is a lifelong skin condition that requires constant management-there is no rosacea cure! Since rosacea is a long-term skin problem, I professionally only recommend oral antibiotics for rosacea treatment as a last resort.
I work tirelessly with my patients to develop a management approach for their rosacea that helps to suppress flare-ups. We do this with a comprehensive foundation of holistic dermatology.
For over 20 years I have given my rosacea patients holistic advice to help them control their rosacea. The advice includes:
I build upon that foundation by adding medicated topical prescription skin care products. Then, only as a last resort, will I use short term oral antibiotics to control the skin when it flares up in spite of our best efforts.
This holistic approach to treating rosacea isn't the norm. I see many patients whose previous physicians managed their rosacea with oral antibiotics alone.
My bias is that the unintended consequences of chronic oral antibiotics use make them a last resort for rosacea treatment. My patients achieve good control of their rosacea with my holistic approach; only my toughest rosacea patients require oral antibiotic treatment to control their skin. - Dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, MD
My holistic approach to treating rosacea covers a lot of detailed information. I’m going to outline my key points for diet and lifestyle in today's 4th post of this Rosacea Blog Series. Prescription skin care, oral therapy and procedures will be covered tomorrow in my final fifth post of this rosacea series.
All the posts are listed below as is a link to my updated Rosacea Advice Pages, where you can find all my tips and advice for rosacea in one sections..
Dermatologist’s Natural Remedies for Rosacea
In addition to a complete supportive skin care regimen and prescription treatments when necessary, I recommend that my rosacea patient change their diet and activities to help fight physiologic inflammation that will in turn help to control their rosacea.
What are the top supportive diet recommendations that I give to my rosacea patients?
My whole foods and predominantly plant-based diet can help rosacea. It's the perfect diet for anyone with an inflammatory skin condition. We know that a diet like this is anti- inflammatory and will help to control inflammation from many causes. It’s a veggie heavy diet that's very similar to the current recommendation from doctors and dietitians for optimal health.
I also introduce patients to the concept of alkaline physiologic pH shifts in the body from foods. The alkaline vs acid concept of foods is controversial, but my experience and opinion is that it matters; the concept is that foods which create a slight alkaline pH shift when you absorb and process them are less inflammatory. You can download my free Diet Guide Ebook. Or, you can read more about it in my 3 post series which starts with The Alkaline Mediterranean Diet. Yes, I know it is controversial. It is the diet I strive to live on and it helps all of my inflammatory health issues including rosacea. Yes, that is anecdotal, but it is also very real.
Freshly ground flax seeds are the most potent plant source of inflammation fighting omega 3 fatty acids. It's easy to add a handful to your food and it's a great overall health booster. My post on flax seeds is titled Age Beautifully, Fight Cancer And Prevent Heart Disease By Adding Flax Seeds To Your Diet
I also recommend adding foods with live probiotics to your diet. I think the best source of probiotics comes from naturally fermented foods such as kefir (or yogurt), instead of probiotic supplements. I discuss probiotics in my two part series on kefir. The first post in the series is Dermatologist’s Recommendations for Natural Skin Health: Kefir the best probiotic for healthy skin. Yogurt, and possibly kefir, can trigger some people's rosacea, so you need to try them carefully. Alternatives include probiotic supplements from natural food stores, but buy the highest quality because these living cultures require care or else they die before you actually have a chance to use them.
The reason I recommend probiotics is because of some inconclusive but interesting scientific observations connecting rosacea and the stomach germ Helicobacter pylori. Eating probiotic rich foods regularly may help diminish the presence of this organism in the gastrointestinal track. I’ve had so many patients whose rosacea benefited from H. pylori treatment that I think this recommendation may well have merit.
My last diet recommendation is to avoid the specific foods that make your rosacea flare up.
Common rosacea trigger foods include:
- spicy foods,
- hot beverages,
- dairy foods,
- citrus fruit foods,
- soy sauce,
- some beans,
- eggplant and
Rosacea trigger foods are different for each person. Along with the list I just mentioned, there are other less obvious culprits. Just yesterday a rosacea patient told me she figured out her flare ups were triggered by avocados. When she gave them up her face cleared. When she did a re-challenge, her skin broke out again.
Try to notice if there are any specific food types that seem to be associated with your skin’s flare ups. When you think that you’ve identified a trigger food try avoiding it and observe your skin for changes. If your rosacea calms down, confirm your suspicion with a re-challenge. If your skin flares up again you may have identified one of your true food triggers.
What lifestyle and activity recommendations can help you control your rosacea?
Try to reduce your stress level. Yes, stress can trigger rosacea. Most rosacea patents turn beet red when they are upset, embarrassed or nervous. The pimples and inflammatory rash of rosacea often follow. Roseaca also flares up during the holidays, which for many of us are stressful. Doing what you can to avoid or manage your stress level is important when you have rosacea.
I’m a big fan of yoga for stress reduction and have written about its health benefits. Other options include meditation, biofeedback, taking time to be outdoors, spending time with friends who don’t cause you stress, being less demanding of yourself and living life more slowly etc.
Avoid exposure to temperature extremes, sun and strong chapping wind. These can trigger rosacea. This includes saunas and hot tubs as well as the weather and indoor temperatures. It also includes exertional exercise that can cause you to get overheated.
Try to control facial flushing conditions as much as possible. Easy to avoid flushing from niacin supplements can trigger rosacea. Other more difficult to control flushing from menopausal hot flashes can trigger rosacea too. Spritz your face with cool water or apply a cool cloth to help reduce facial capillary engorgement.
The good news is that you can make decisions that help you control your rosacea. When your rosacea is well controlled with diet and supportive skin care you may be able to sneak up on your skin and ask it to tolerate a small amount of these triggers.
With rosacea flare ups it’s a often a matter of degree; doing strenuous exercise in the full sun on a windy day while suffering from hot flashes, after eating Mexican food and drinking a margarita, and at a time when your rosacea is already active is just asking for trouble!
Please know that I also update my complete Rosacea Information on my web pages including my Rosacea Skin Care Tips. My Advice Pages are another place where you can find detailed information on common skin problems all in one place. Click here for my Dermatologist's Rosacea Advice Pages.
My 5 Article Series on Rosacea:
Acne Rosacea; Dermatologist's Natural Treatment of Rosacea (this post)
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