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Can diet and lifestyle help manage my rosacea?

It is well documented that what we eat can have a significant impact on our skin health, and this is particularly true for those with rosacea. Certain foods and beverages are often cited as triggers flushing and inflammation, leading to a worsening of symptoms.

When I received my rosacea diagnosis, I didn’t get a lot of medical support – and while I would have liked to someone to wave a magic wand and fix it, I quickly realised that wouldn’t happen. As someone with other allergies – there was a well-trodden path I needed to follow. I knew that I’d need to identify my triggers and deal with the culprit.

But, unlike my other allergies, this wasn’t a question of avoiding one particular thing... for me it was a cluster of things, and everything started with stress...

The list of common triggers made me so sad - I pretty much enjoy everything on the list (spicy foods, alcohol, caffeine, and hot beverages) and I didn’t like the idea of giving even more up from my life, even if most medical advice would recommend that those with rosacea avoid these triggers.

Stress and Rosacea

Stress was my trigger and caused the flare up that made me seek medical advice. Before this, I had linked my skin sensitivity and redness to a lifetime of super-sensitive skin, being really fair and just a part of being me. I read a lot about the condition and while advice like ‘try to find ways to reduce your stress’ is important, our often-stressful lives leave little choice but deal work through and deal with situations in the here and now. That said, if you are able to adopt stress-reducing techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises – then this can be an effective way to help you regain some control or relieve pressure.

Any other regular exercise that you can build into your schedule, no matter how small, can also help manage stress and, of course, can help improve overall health and well-being. Even a short walk on a daily basis can make a difference and clear your mind.

Lifestyle Factors

In addition to diet and stress, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can impact rosacea symptoms. Harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures are examples of triggers that can cause flushing and inflammation. Some things are easier to avoid than others – urban dwellers will find it harder to avoid high levels of air pollution, for example, so it is important to think about how you can protect your skin within the environment that you are living and working. Gentle, non-irritating skincare products can provide some protection here.

For some people, excessive sun exposure can cause flare ups (personally, if I don’t get sunburn, I find that the being in good weather broadly improves my rosacea, so it really a matter of individual circumstance). Wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen and/or a wide-brimmed hat can help protect the skin from excess and harmful UV rays.

Finally, be mindful of any medications or supplements that may be contributing to rosacea symptoms. And importantly, just because you have taken medication for a long time, doesn’t mean that it is not a contributing factor to flare ups – it just the journey of your body and skin changing and reacting to things.

Certain medications, such as steroids and blood pressure medications, can worsen symptoms, while supplements such as niacin and vitamin B6 can cause flushing. Medication in many cases, cannot and should not be withdrawn but understanding that they might play a role in your rosacea might help you or a skincare professional work out a different management routine for the condition.

While there is no cure for rosacea, making certain diet and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms and improve overall skin health. By adopting a healthy, balanced diet, reducing stress, protecting the skin from harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures, and being mindful of medications and supplements, those with rosacea can take control of their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

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