Rosacea is a skin condition characterized by facial redness and small, pus-filled bumps appearing across the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin. Approximately one of every 20 Americans suffers from rosacea, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, and the condition is most likely to affect adults older than 30--especially fair-skinned individuals prone to blushing. Although a number of topical and oral treatments are available to combat rosacea, simple changes in diet and lifestyle may be enough to improve your skin without the use of medication.
Reduce your intake of rosacea-triggering foods and steaming-hot meals. The National Rosacea Society lists spicy foods, yogurt, liver, eggplant, sour cream, tomatoes, avocados, spinach, citrus fruits, chocolate, vanilla, cheese, vinegar, soy sauce, figs, bananas, plums, raisins and broad-leaf beans as common dietary triggers for rosacea. In addition, thermally hot foods may contribute to flare-ups, so let your meals cool off before you consume them.
Minimize your exposure to extreme temperatures--such as hot showers, saunas, cold swimming pools or frigid winter air. Harsh temperatures can cause your blood vessels to dilate, worsening the appearance of rosacea.
Engage in short but frequent sessions of low-intensity exercise, rather than prolonged periods of high-intensity activities--and take measures to keep yourself cool. Strenuous exercise can trigger rosacea flare-ups in over half of rosacea sufferers, according to RosaceaNet, but exercising in cool environments and staying well-hydrated with cold water can regulate your body temperature and keep your complexion clear.
Reduce your exposure to stimulants--including cigarettes, coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and high-sugar treats. As the International Rosacea Foundation explains, stimulants can trigger excessive oil production in your sebaceous glands, aggravating the redness and pustule formation associated with rosacea.
Adopt a rosacea-friendly skin care regimen. The Mayo Clinic recommends avoiding cleansers and cosmetics containing alcohol, washing breakout areas with a mild facial cleanser and choosing cosmetic products labelled "noncomedogenic"--indicating they don't clog pores. In addition, applying an oil-free, broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face can protect your skin from sun damage, a potential trigger for rosacea.
Consult a physician to test for food allergies. Rosacea--especially when occurring in conjunction with symptoms such as digestive distress, migraines and fatigue--may signal an intolerance or allergy to a particular food. Pinpointing food allergies and avoiding the offending dietary culprits may improve your rosacea.
Some drugs, including vasodilators and topical steroids, can cause rosacea or worsen existing breakouts. Talk to your doctor about switching medications if a specific drug is contributing to your condition.
Opt for nonalcoholic beverages when possible; some rosacea sufferers report breakouts following alcohol consumption.
To identify the factors that trigger your rosacea, keep a journal of your food intake, activities, medication usage and any products you use and make note of any subsequent flare-ups.
Denise Minger, an independent researcher, writer, editor and public speaker, published her first book, "Death by Food Pyramid," in January 2014. Passionate about health, she runs a blog at rawfoodsos.com dedicated to debunking bad nutritional science, and offers health consultations for individuals with special dietary goals.