The rosacea diet: what to eat and what to avoid

Rosacea can look like blushing, a sunburn, or redness on the face and neck. And anyone who suffers from rosacea knows it’s not fun. 

I remember for no reason my skin would get flushed and almost feel like it was burning. But I just brushed it off.  After sport, I'd be so red, more red than any one else around me at the gym. But I just brushed it off. And now, I realise how common rosacea is (mainly in women over 30 and mostly in pale skin types). I know this because you ask me all the time what products to use for rosacea (BTW I get incredible feedback with this one). 

The main symptoms of rosacea are:

  • redness
  • flushing
  • dryness
  • flaking
  • enlarged blood vessels
  • pimples
  • bumps

The cause of rosacea isn’t known. It’s thought to be a response to ongoing inflammation in the body. However, immune system changes and gut bacteria imbalance may also be factors.

There are various treatments available for managing rosacea (sun protection and antibiotics), but I'm going to talk about how what you eat (or don't eat) can help to  reduce flare-ups.

Foods that may reduce flare-ups

Reduce the inflammation

Foods that contain healthy fats (like omega 3 fatty acids) and other nutrients, like zinc, may help improve rosacea.  

Mackerel Oysters
Salmon Chicken
Sardines Beef
Anchovies Tofu
Flax seeds Lentils
Walnuts Spinach
Chia seeds Pumpkin Seeds


Foods to balance gut biome

Having a good balance of healthy bacteria is important for a healthy microbiome and these foods that promote good bacteria in the body may help to reduce rosacea symptoms.  These include fiber-rich foods, prebiotics, and probiotics.

Prebiotic foods may help keep the gut environment healthy for good bacteria. Probiotic foods may help to add more good microorganisms to your intestines.

Examples of probiotic foods include:

  • sauerkraut
  • kimchi
  • kefir
  • miso

Since people with rosacea have such a wide range of triggers, it’s possible that certain foods on this list may actually trigger your rosacea. 

Prebiotic foods include fibre-rich food such as:

  • under ripe bananas
  • onions
  • leeks
  • asparagus
  • garlic
  • whole grains (oats, barley, amaranth, sprouted wheat)

Foods that may trigger flare-ups

Certain foods can trigger or worsen rosacea in some adults.  Avoid or limit these spicy or hot foods to help improve rosacea symptoms:


According to clinical research, up to half of adults with rosacea reported that drinking alcohol worsened their symptoms. Even a small amount of alcohol can trigger symptoms such as flushing and redness. This includes wine, hard liquor, and other alcoholic beverages such as:

  • champagne
  • bourbon
  • gin
  • vodka
  • beer

Other beverages

Hot drinks such as tea, coffee, hot cider, and hot cocoa may also trigger rosacea flare-ups.

Spicy foods

A survey of over 400 people by the National Rosacea Society found that spices and spicy food worsened symptoms in up to 75 percent of adults with rosacea. The common culprit is likely the chemical capsaicin, which gives these foods their “heat.”

Capsaicin affects the pain receptors in your skin that feel warmth. This may adversely affect rosacea. To limit capsaicin in your diet, you may choose to try to avoid certain spices and peppers.

  • chili pepper
  • jalopenos
  • hot sauce
  • tabasco pepper

Cinnamaldehyde foods

Cinnamaldehyde gives cinnamon its familiar pungent flavour. This compound causes a warming sensation that can trigger rosacea symptoms. It’s found in a range of foods:

  • cinnamon
  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • chocolate

Medications that may trigger flare-ups

Some medications may trigger rosacea symptoms. This may occur because some drugs affect blood flow to the skin. They include:

  • niacin (vitamin B-3)
  • sympathomimetics (blood pressure drugs)
  • topical steroids

The takeaway

As with any skin condition, we need to work from the inside-out. So while Jojoba & Camellia may be useful to keep skin calm and soothed, we also need to look at our diets.  Your dietary choices may help calm rosacea symptoms because certain foods can affect inflammation and dilate blood vessels.

You’ll mostly likely not need to avoid all trigger foods. Some foods may cause flare-ups in some people with rosacea, but not in others. Just as with food allergies and other conditions, it’s important to determine which foods affect your symptoms.

Figuring out which foods to eat and which to avoid may take time and careful observation. Keep a daily food and symptom journal. Log everything you eat and drink, as well as any changes to your rosacea. Remove foods one at a time to see your body’s response to it.

Speak to health care practitioner about the best diet for you. Ask about good food alternatives to help ensure that you’re eating a balanced daily diet.

jojoba and camellia balancing cream


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