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7 Foods That Can Trigger Rosacea

Dermatologists say you might want to avoid these rosacea food triggers to help clear up your complexion.

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Tomatoes, shellfish, and other histamine-related foods

About 16 million Americans have rosacea, a chronic inflammatory skin disease (with no known cause) that is characterized by slow-developing facial redness, flushing, and/or acne-like papules or pustules. Some sufferers may be sensitive to foods high in histamine, such as citrus fruit and nuts, and/or histamine-releasing foods, such as tomatoes and shellfish, because “histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate… contributing to a wide range of problems,” according to Taking an antihistamine prior to a meal of histamine-containing foods may lessen skin-reddening side effects.

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More than one in every five rosacea sufferers noted that chocolate was one of their food triggers, according to survey data from the National Rosacea Society. The theory: Theobromine—the main alkaloid found in cocoa—dilates blood vessels and increases blood circulation, which contributes to skin flushing. These are the 12 things you should never, ever do to your skin.

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One of the most commonly reported triggers, alcohol is linked with rosacea flare-ups, according to patients surveyed by the National Rosacea Society; red wine seems to produce the greatest reaction. “Alcohol causes vasodilatation—increased blood flow through the skin—which can make skin appear to be redder," explains John E. Wolf, Jr., MD, professor and chairman of the department of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine. Here are the 10 things you need to know about rosacea—whether you have it or not.

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Spicy foods

Spicy foods, including hot peppers, Mexican-style foods, chili, and salsa, can provoke a rosacea flare-up, according to National Rosacea Society survey data. Spicy foods worsened symptoms in up to 75 percent of people with rosacea, per the journal Dermatology Practical & Conceptual. Some researchers believe that there is a correlation between spicy food-induced rosacea flare-ups and gastrointestinal upset.

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Marinated meats

Marinated meats are considered one of the less common causes for rosacea flare-ups—but it still impacts some people. According to a study by the National Rosacea Society, about 10 percent of people see a negative change in their rosacea when they eat marinated meats. Sulfites, which can be found in marinated meats, “may contribute to chronic skin…symptoms,” reported a 2009 study by the National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health at The Australian National University. Find out some makeup tricks that can help hide rosacea.

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Hot beverages

According to 2017 research published in the journal Dermatology Practical & Conceptual33 and 30 percent of the 95 percent of people who have diet-related rosacea flares describe hot coffee and hot tea, respectively, as triggers. A 2007 study of 24 patients conducted by researchers in the department of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine concluded that it is the thermal response of these drinks (not their caffeine content, a previous theory) that exacerbates rosacea. Simply drinking a slightly less steamy beverage of choice could help prevent a rosacea flare.

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Fermented foods

“Some foods and beverages induce the blushing/flushing type of rosacea [while] others may induce the inflammatory papulopustular type,” says Richard Odom, MD, clinical professor of dermatology and former acting chairman of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco. While food triggers are subjective, fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and certain aged cheeses (blue cheese, for example), have been logged as a rosacea trigger for some patients. Dr. Odom recommends keeping a food diary to monitor symptoms and then eliminating certain foods to see if that makes a difference. “Rosacea cannot be prevented, but it can be controlled with medication, avoidance of triggers, and proper skincare,” says Dr. Wolf. Next, find out some more surprising rosacea triggers you never knew about.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest