The fact that certain foods can trigger a flare-up in some rosacea patients is well known. In reaction to these foods and other environmental factors such as sun exposure or extreme temperatures, the body releases substances that cause a chain reaction affecting skin that leads to flushing, inflammation and, for some, burning and stinging sensations. However, although the outcome may be the same, different foods trigger different processes, according to a presentation at the American Academy of Dermatology’s virtual annual meeting this year.
Pinpointing potential rosacea triggers can be challenging and may lead to a hard-to-remember list of seemingly incongruous foods like alcohol, chocolate, citrus and bell peppers. While these foods may seem disparate, there may be a logical explanation for why certain foods cause rosacea to flare, according to Dr. Rajani Katta, clinical assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and the author of Glow: The Dermatologist’s Guide to a Whole Foods Younger Skin Diet.
We often think of flare-ups occurring due to stress or weather, but they can also spring up in the midst of normal day-to-day activities around the home, according to Dr. Estee Williams, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
“As a rule, rosacea skin is sensitive skin,” explained Dr. Williams. “Because rosacea skin is so hyper-reactive, it is tough to predict what will set it off. From the moment you wake up to the time you hit the sack, triggers abound.”
You know how it is. You’re going about your daily life when bam! Your rosacea flares up. While it may not be possible to avoid everything that might trigger a sudden increase in signs and symptoms, here are some ways to keep flare-ups to a minimum.
Know your triggers. Once you have uncovered the lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to your flare-ups, you have a much better chance of controlling your condition. The NRS provides a diary to help identify and avoid those factors that affect your individual case.
Identifying and avoiding things that trigger symptoms in your individual case can help you to control your condition. Here are three easy ways to start tracking:
While each new season brings its own delights, from spring’s blooming flowers to autumn’s falling leaves, the change in weather can also bring challenges to rosacea patients, according to a new National Rosacea Society (NRS) patient survey. Nearly 90 percent of the 852 survey respondents said their rosacea is affected by the change in seasons, and more than 58 percent said their symptoms are at their worst during the summer.
Q. Is it common to break out in an itchy, bumpy rash (always on my forehead) after slight sun exposure? Would sunscreen help prevent this?
A. In patient surveys, the sun ranks as the most common trigger for rosacea flare-ups, so it is likely that the sun is the culprit in your case. Even incidental exposure, such as running errands on a sunny day, might be enough to cause an outbreak of rosacea symptoms in some individuals.
Q. Certain activities trigger mild, short-lasting rosacea outbreaks on my cheeks and/or nose. The outbreaks are not severe enough to make me stop these activities, but if I keep doing them could the flare-ups get worse?
A. This aspect of potential rosacea triggers has not been studied, so it is unclear whether repeated exposure makes subsequent flare-ups worse. Physicians have observed, however, that the signs and symptoms of rosacea tend to become increasingly severe without medical treatment and proper care.
While physical exercise may be a common rosacea trigger, the right changes in routines can reduce the likelihood of a flare-up, according to results of a new patient survey by the National Rosacea Society.
More than 80 percent of the survey’s 563 respondents said exercise aggravates their rosacea signs and symptoms. Aerobic exercise in general (also known as cardio) was cited as the most aggravating, mentioned by nearly 55 percent of the patients. This type of exercise increases the demand for oxygen, resulting in higher respiration and heart rates.
While the list of potential lifestyle and environmental factors that may aggravate rosacea is long – ranging from sun and wind to spicy foods, heavy exercise and heated beverages – not everyone is affected by them all. With a little detective work, you can identify and avoid only those things that affect your individual case.