9 Foods to Avoid When You Have Rosacea

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
  • Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects more than 16 million people in the United States. Many aren’t diagnosed or aren’t receiving treatment. The condition causes red skin, acne-like bumps, and visible blood vessels on the face. If you have rosacea, you may find that sometimes, the redness and marks on your skin are minimal or may not be present at all. Then, seemingly out of the blue, you start seeing signs of it again.

    There is no specific rosacea treatment diet, but many people with rosacea find that by eliminating these foods, they have fewer or less severe flare-ups.

  • 1
    Spicy Foods
    chili with beef and corn

    The most common foods that seem to trigger flare-ups are spicy foods In a survey of 516 people with rosacea by the National Rosacea Society, participants reported limiting or avoiding spicy Mexican, Indian, Thai and Italian foods and said they found rosacea symptom relief.

  • 2
    Alcoholic Drinks
    Hands holding glasses of red wine

    Alcohol is a vasodilator, which means it opens the blood vessels. When the blood vessels in your face dilate, they become more visible. The biggest culprit with rosacea is red wine. According to wine experts, this could be due to the tyramines and histamines found in the wine. Other types of alcohol more likely to trigger a rosacea flare-up include Champagne, beer, vodka, gin and bourbon. Unfortunately, it’s become a stereotype that someone with a very red face drinks heavily, but even people who never touch a drop of alcohol can have rosacea.

  • 3
    Hot Drinks

    Any type of hot drink, from coffee to hot chocolate, can be a no-no if you are developing an individual rosacea diet. Hot drinks cause the blood vessels to dilate, giving skin a red appearance. This can be tough for people who rely on their morning cup of coffee or tea to get started with the day. If you really must have these drinks, allow them to cool off a bit before drinking them, or try switching to the iced versions.

  • 4
    Dairy Products
    Cropped image of man's hands pouring milk into clear glass

    It hasn’t been proven in studies, but there are many anecdotes of people seeing fewer rosacea flare-ups when they eliminated dairy from their diets. If you decide to go dairy-free, it’s important to ensure that you consume the nutrients usually found in dairy from other foods. For example, you can get your daily calcium requirements by eating sardines and canned salmon, beans and lentils, almonds, and dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach.

  • 5
    Chocolate pieces and ground cocoa on wood table

    Chocolate is high in histamine, a compound that plays a role in immune responses. High levels of histamine can trigger a rosacea flare-up. Histamine may not be a trigger for you, but if you suspect it is, you can try eliminating chocolate and other foods that have high levels of histamine, such as fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, avocados, eggplant, and shellfish.

  • 6
    Histamine-Triggering Foods
    glass of tomato juice on table next to tomatoes

    Some foods aren’t necessarily high in histamine, but they can trigger your body to release histamine. If you’re sensitive to histamine, this could cause a rosacea flare-up. Some foods in this category include bananas, citrus fruits, tomatoes, nuts and beans. Not all foods have the same effect, however, so you may be able to eat some foods in this category, but not others. Any rosacea diet will take some trial and error before you find which foods work for you and which don’t.

  • 7
    Refined Sugar and Flour

    Products made from refined sugars and flour can trigger rosacea flare-ups in some people. Foods in this category you may want to avoid if you are following a rosacea diet include products made with white sugar or white flour, sugary foods, and sugary juices or sodas. Refined sugars and flour can contribute to other health issues as well, so eliminating them from your diet may help your overall health, along with reducing rosacea symptoms.

  • 8
    Processed Foods
    Prosciutto crudo

    In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not unusual to reach for a prepared meal or prepared ingredients to save time. However, if you have rosacea, you may want to stay away from processed foods to reduce the risk of a flare-up. Some examples of processed foods include processed meats, like cold cuts and hot dogs, and processed vegetable oils, such as canola oil and soybean oil.

  • 9
    Artificial Sweeteners
    Restaurant container of various sugars and artificial sweeteners

    Consuming products made with artificial sweeteners may seem like a good idea if you are trying to cut back on sugar, but some people with rosacea find that artificial sweeteners make their face flush more. Artificial sweeteners can be found in many products, such as sodas, baked goods, and candy. They may even be in products you might not expect like chewing gum, so it’s important to read labels when possible.

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  1. All About Rosacea. National Rosacea Society. https://www.rosacea.org/patients/all-about-rosacea
  2. Factors That May Trigger Rosacea Flare-Ups. National Rosacea Society. https://www.rosacea.org/patients/rosacea-triggers/factors-that-may-trigger-rosacea-flare-ups
  3. Weiss E, Katta R. Diet and rosacea: the role of dietary change in the management of rosacea. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017;7(4):31–37. Published 2017 Oct 31. doi:10.5826/dpc.0704a08
  4. Triggers could be causing your rosacea flare-ups. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea/triggers-could-be-causing-your-rosacea-flare-ups
  5. New Study Finds 415 Million People May Suffer From Rosacea Worldwide. National Rosacea Society. https://www.rosacea.org/press/2018/july/new-study-finds-415-million-people-may-suffer-from-rosacea-worldwide
  6. Survey: Avoiding Dietary Triggers May Reduce Rosacea Flare-Ups. National Rosacea Society. https://www.rosacea.org/rosacea-review/2018/spring/survey-avoiding-dietary-triggers-may-reduce-rosacea-flare-ups
  7. Does drinking cause rosacea? American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/rosacea/does-drinking-cause-rosacea
  8. Mobley E. Why does red wine make my rosacea flare up? August 1, 2013. https://www.winespectator.com/articles/why-does-red-wine-make-my-rosacea-flare-up-48757

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Nov 10
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