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Food & Alcohol

Rosacea and Food

Rosacea sufferers can improve their chances of maintaining remission of rosacea symptoms by identifying and avoiding lifestyle and environmental factors that may trigger flare-ups..

Identifying these triggers is an individual process, however, because what causes a flare-up for one person may have no effect on another.

The common triggers that affect most rosacea sufferers include:


Rosacea: Hot drinks and spicy foods To Avoid

"In a survey of more than 500 rosacea patients, published in Rosacea Review, 61% of those affected by spicy foods listed hot peppers as a trigger for their rosacea signs and symptoms. This was followed by 52% for Mexican-style foods, 47% for Chili and 46% for salsa."

However, other fairly ordinary foods can also trigger rosacea and facial redness.

"42% were affected by hot sausage and 43% said Cajun-style foods had triggered or aggravated their rosacea. Spicy ingredients that often lead to rosacea flare-ups include some obvious ones like hot sauce, affecting 66% of the survey respondents, and chili powder for 49%"

However, in the "pepper" family of spices, red pepper was overwhelmingly more prone to cause a reaction, reported by 53% of the respondents. In contrast, more common "table" black pepper was listed by only 22%, while paprika had affected 15% and white pepper 14%.


"Barbecue sauce at 28% and tomato sauce at 25%. Curry was listed by 23%. Vinegar triggers or aggravates rosacea in 19% of the respondents, while marinated meat was listed by 18%. Mustard affects 13%, onions 13% and garlic 11%.F Hot drinks can also trigger rosacea."

The heat in the drink can cause the blood vessels to dilate causing facial redness. It was originally thought that the caffeine in coffee was a trigger but it is actually the heat in the coffee itself which is the trigger - ditto tea or hot soup. The simple answer is to let it cool or add or cold water or milk.




Rosacea: What Alcohol You Should Avoid

Rosacea and Alcohol

Alcohol does not cause rosacea - rosacea is an hereditary condition - but it can trigger flare-ups.


According to a recent survey of American Rosacea sufferers here is the most common alcohol triggers. Some drinks are worse than others but red wine tops the list.

The percentage of patients reporting a skin reaction after drinking:

  • Red wine, 76%
  • White wine, 56%
  • Beer, 41%
  • Champagne, 33%
  • Vodka, 33%
  • Tequila, 28%
  • Bourbon, gin, and rum, 24%
  • Scotch, 21%

But in the same survey:

"90% of those surveyed said that limiting their alcohol consumption reduced the symptoms of rosacea".

Top tips to try - white wine does not seem to produce the same reaction in some rosacea sufferers so it may be an alternative to red or maybe a spritzer concoction of white wine with soda or sparkling water served over ice can dilute your drink while also keeping things cool.

Go with a 1:1 ratio. Alcohol can lead to dehydration, which may aggravate your skin. Have a glass of ice water in between each alcoholic drink – the water will keep you hydrated and the ice will keep you cool.


Here's an interesting article from the UK newspaper the DAILY MAIL which highlights the beauty benefits of reducing alcohol intake.

Look what giving up drink for a month can do to your face: Mother who enjoyed five glasses of wine a week is transformed after going cold turkey (Published: 23:57 GMT, 17 September 2013 DAILY MAIL)


We all worry about the effect an extra glass of wine has on our waistline, but what about on our skin?

To find out if ditching alcohol can improve your complexion, we challenged Laura Hogarth, a 40-year-old mother-of-two from Falkirk, to spend a month without consuming a drop of booze.


Before this, Laura drank about 15 units of alcohol a week — which equates to around five large glasses of wine and is just one unit a week above the recommended national guidelines for women.

Week One After No AlcoholWeek Two After No AlcoholWeek Four After No Alcohol



Rosacea: Types Of Food To Avoid

Rosacea and Spicy Foods

Reduce your consumption of carbohydrates. Reduce the intake of simple carbohydrates and replace them with more fibrous alternatives. (Simple carbs, sugars and juices are broken down in the digestive system with relative ease and are likely to trigger excess levels of insulin, a hormone that encourages cells to absorb glucose for use as fuel for energy.

Higher levels of insulin in the blood can exacerbate inflammation and so eating complex carbs with a little protein and vegetables should help stabilise glucose levels and thus reduce the requirement for insulin.) 

Have a look through our blog that talk more specifically about what food that triggers Rosacea and what doesn't.


Avoid sugar

This is reasonably easy to do but avoiding simple sugars altogether is much harder especially given that some artificial sweeteners, the sort that are often found in a sachet alongside lumps of sugar, can also trigger a flare up for some sufferers. The easy step is to avoid all obvious sources of sugar, for at least 30 days.

Particular Foods

Some foods trigger flushes and you need to recognise which ones produce flushes in you, as we aren’t all the same. Some Rosaceans might only have a reaction to one or two foods while others react to a whole range of foods and drinks.

However there are some common ones –the trick is to keep a food diary - particularly if you have a fairly bad case of rosacea.

The following food list was compiled from patient histories of rosacea sufferers by a Dr. Jonathan Wilkin and produced by the National Rosacea Society in America. It is a list of the most common food triggers which bring on an episode of flushing.

  • Spicy foods,
  • Thermally hot foods (including hot chocolate, coffee or tea,
  • Liver,
  • Sour cream,
  • Cheese (except cottage cheese),
  • Chocolate,
  • Vanilla,
  • Soy sauce,
  • Yeast extract (bread in itself is not listed),
  • Vinegar,
  • Avocados,
  • Spinach,
  • Broad-leaf beans and pods, including butter, haricot or kidney,
  • Citrus fruits,
  • Tomatoes,
  • Bananas,
  • Red plums,
  • Raisins or Figs,
  • Foods high in histamine, especially red wine.
  • Foods high in niacin (taking an antihistamine about two hours before a meal may counter the effects of histamine, while aspirin may reduce the effects of niacin-containing foods in sufferers affected by these substances.

Read our blog on Rosacea - Weight, Exercise, Diet to find out more.