I’ve seen a number of teenagers with rosacea recently which was unheard of only 10 or so years ago. Big Pharma has definitely taken notice! Trials for drug based treatment for rosacea are currently ongoing to hurry profitable pharmaceuticals to market. An enormous billboard in my community is aggressively advertising for candidates to participate in the required FDA approval process for these drugs.
For those who wish to avoid the drug route with its inherent side effects that are likely as bad or worse than rosacea itself, natural remedies fortunately abound!
The first thing to realize about rosacea is that it is what I call a “canary illness”. Canaries, if you recall, were used in the early days of coal mining to detect deadly gasses and potential explosions. If a canary keeled over inside a mine, this was a sign for the mining crew to get out quickly!
Be thankful for your rosacea! It is a very visible sign of inflammatory issues going on within the body. You have time to take action to resolve the problem before the inflammation gets worse, damaging something much more critical such as your vital organs!
Think about it – the redness from rosacea is triggered when tiny blood vessels called capillaries become inflamed and literally break underneath the skin. What about inflammation and/or breakdown of larger vessels in a related portion of the circulatory system, arteries and veins? You can’t afford for these larger vessels to become compromised. Problems in this portion of the circulatory system can be extremely dangerous to health.
Hence, ignoring rosacea and considering it only a cosmetic nuisance is sweeping a potentially big health problem down the road under the proverbial rug. The same goes for using creams or drugs which help reduce the rash’s appearance without addressing the underlying reasons for the inflammation.
Can Rosacea be Cured with Diet?
Conventional doctors will tell you that rosacea is common, chronic, and incurable.
In other words, “there is nothing you can do” (except take drugs for it of course).
Is this really true?
Functional medicine and lifestyle doctor Sachin Patel has an answer for this common statement.
Why are patients told “there is nothing you can do” for a disease that is caused by something they are [in fact] doing?
There is most certainly something you can do to help resolve problems with rosacea! The first thing to recognize is that what you are eating on a regular basis can have big effects.
Rosacea Common Causes
To their credit, conventional practitioners will often tell patients with rosacea to avoid hot, spicy foods and alcohol. These foods tend to worsen symptoms. Coffee, chocolate, yerba mate, matcha and other caffeinated foods can aggravate things for some people too. Perhaps this is because caffeine dilates already inflamed blood vessels making them more prone to breakage. Exposing the skin to very cold temperatures or skin icing has the same damaging effect.
But here’s potentially the biggest bugaboo causing rosacea that is rarely mentioned let alone considered by conventional medicine: SUGAR!
Sugar, particularly if processed like white refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup, encourages inflammation of all kinds. And, if rosacea is your weak link, plan on that Dunkin’ Donuts binge costing you when you look in the mirror.
Another problem with sugar consumption if you suffer from rosacea is that Candida and other pathogenic yeasts in the gut convert dietary sugar into alcohol. Even a meal heavy in carbohydrates would potentially aggravate rosacea symptoms for those with unbalanced gut issues.
It is extremely important to get sugar and refined carbohydrate issues under control if you want to successfully treat rosacea naturally!
If you need help getting off the sugar train, this four step plan to get off sugar really works and won’t make you crazy or feel deprived in the process.
I have known people whose most effective treatment for rosacea simply involved their sugar and carb consumption under control.
Rosacea Treatment and Mites?
Besides dietary intervention, there can be a parasitic aspect to some cases of rosacea too.
Researchers studying effective approaches to treatment for rosacea have determined that the skin mite Demodex folliculorum can cause dry rosacea-like symptoms. In one study, a random sample of 16 female patients with rosacea were examined. All were found to harbor skin mite infestations in the inflamed areas using light and scanning electron microscopy. The patients were treated with 10% topical sulfur ointment to kill the mites.
After treatment, 3 cases were completely cured, 10 cases were moderately improved, and 3 cases showed no improvement (1). Here’s the really gross part. It wasn’t actually the mites that caused rosacea in some of these patients. It was the bacteria feeding on the fecal matter inside the mites that caused an inflammatory immune response (2).
But why did the mites get entrenched in the skin in first place? Exposure to heat and humidity – conditions that let mites thrive – certainly doesn’t help. But, the real reason is actually nutritional deficiency.
Nutritive Treatment for Rosacea
The B vitamins are the most important nutrients to consider for avoidance of skin mite infestation and treatment for rosacea. Not surprising that people with gut imbalance issues (overgrowth of Candida and other pathogens) frequently have issues with B vitamin status too. Good bacteria in the gut actually produce these nutrients naturally supplementing dietary forms (3).
Of these, riboflavin, vitamin B2, is especially critical when it comes to avoiding rosacea. The Textbook of Natural Medicine by naturopaths Joseph Pizzorno and Michael Murray describes how easily the skin of riboflavin deficient rates is infected with rosacea inducing skin mites. The skin of rats with normal riboflavin status was not affected.
The best whole supplements to obtain concentrated, food based Vitamin B complex including riboflavin include nutritional brewers yeast (quality source) and/or a desiccated liver supplement. Beware of multi-vitamins and other lab created supplements to obtain this nutrient, as the B vitamins are synthetic in many cases.
Other ways to help resolve rosacea-related nutritional deficiencies as described in the Textbook of Natural Medicine include:
- Supplementation with hydrochloric acid (HCL) before meals for additional stomach acid to properly digest proteins. Another option is to eat a small amount of raw or fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) before meals, as this stimulates more production of HCL according to Natasha Campbell-McBride MD.
- Supplementation with 300-500 mg of the pancreatic enzyme lipase with meals to assist with the digestion of fats. Using herbal bitters with meals can also be of help.
There is simply no need to use pharmaceuticals as treatment for rosacea in the majority of cases. Eliminating parasitic influences, dietary modification, and resolution of likely nutritional deficiencies is a three-pronged attack that can work to resolve rosacea naturally and permanently.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.