Rosacea, Over 30 Acne, An Intestinal Issue?

Severe rosacea facial flush

Severe rosacea facial flush                 Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Rosacea, sometimes referred to as over 30 acne, is very different from  ordinary “garden variety” acne. The skin condition generally develops over a period of years. Appearing, at first, as a temporary flush in the center of the face, the result of vasodilation (the expansion of small blood vessels), rosacea is different from a blush, however, and distinguished by its intensity and duration.

Whether temporary or almost permanent, the flush eventually encompasses the cheeks and chin; broken blood vessels show up at the sides of the nose. After dilating repeatedly, the blood vessels lose their ability to shrink and the face remains flushed.

Rosacea, like acne, is not fully understood. Often, it is accompanied by dandruff, as well as oily skin and pimples, particularly on the nose.

Rosacea zones

Rosacea zones                                      Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

When severe, rosacea can redden eyelids and affect the mucous membranes of the eye, causing conjunctivitis. Eyes that burn and sting often accompany the flushed, blotchy, highly strung, intense victims of rosacea, who are, many times, mistaken for heavy drinkers.


Stress and Rosacea

Suppressed emotions, like fear and anger, will increase  occurrences, so will the anticipation of important events or unpleasant scenes, as well as strenuous exercise.

While the above stressors can precipitate outbreaks, more and more evidence suggests that rosacea is an auto-immune, inflammatory, whole-body syndrome. This theory dramatically contrasts with another line of thinking that points to over-active sebaceous glands or the Demodex mite. While the overgrowth of the Demodex mite may be involved in a small percentage of cases, there is no proof that the mite is the cause of rosacea. It may simply be a symptom relating to steroid induced rosacea.


Rosacea Dietary Triggers

Diet appears to play a major role in rosacea. 

Hot meals, hot in temperature as well as hot “spicy” can cause a rosacea flush. Sipping cool water or iced drinks with a hot (temperature) meal may help.

Refined carbohydrates: sugar, candy, pastries, including condiments containing sugar, such as catsup and relishe, can dilate capillaries.

Histamines, chemicals found naturally in the body, in some plants and animals, and in red wine and beer, champagne, bourbon, gin and vodka are among the worst offenders. White wine seems to be okay.

Tyramine, contained in aged cheeses, like cheddar and camembert, are problematic. Cottage cheese is fine.

Fermented, pickled, and smoked foods as well as MSG (found in Chinese takeout and many prepared/canned foods), and soy sauce cause issues. Hot dogs, cold cuts, salami, pepperoni and other hard sausages, as well as bacon–all contain rosacea-flushing nitrates.

Organ meats, especially liver, and yeast extract have all been indicted. So have sour fruits or veggies, especially citrus, pineapples, and tomatoes, bananas, figs, avocados, peppers, raisins, nuts, vanilla extract, coffee, tea and colas.

When supplementing with vitamins, avoid the niacin-flush–large doses of B3, which cause blood to flood to the skin’s surface. Small 10 mg doses of Riboflavin (B2), twice daily, may help.

Experts suggest eating bland cool foods and building from there.


Intestinal Bacteria

But underlying everything, may be an overgrowth of intestinal bacteria.

In a recent study, when given a hydrogen breath test that detects bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO), it was found that significantly more rosacea sufferers were hydrogen-positive than the control subjects.

The rosacea victims were given a 10-day course of rifaximin, a non-absorbable antibiotic that does not leave the digestive tract to reach the skin.

Ninety-six percent of those tested had a complete remission of rosacea symptoms, lasting over nine months. These test subjects were also negative when retesting for bacterial overgrowth. The four percent that relapsed were given a second course of rifaximin which again cleared the rosacea symptoms and normalized hydrogen excretion.

Another study, using a methane breath test, found that some hydrogen negative rosacea victims were still positive for bacterial overgrowth. This time rosacea symptoms were eliminated with metronidazole, an antibiotic that is effective at targeting methanogenic intestinal bacteria.

This may shed light on the symptomatic improvement experienced by some rosacea suffers when they reduce their carbohydrates. This would restrict bacterial fermentation since their food source had been cut back.

Considering that

“…your skin is your body’s largest organ of elimination, your skin flushes out wastes and toxins through its pores. When you build up more “grunge” than your skin, kidneys and liver (also cleansing and filtering organs) can handle, lumps and bumps, welts, blemishes and pimples result.”

…this line of thinking may be a huge piece in the rosacea puzzle.

From my kindle ebook Rosacea: New Information, Help and Hope for Adult Acne (Natural Skin Care).

Acne Rosacea Book Cover


More in-depth information can be found in Rosacea: New Information, Help and Hope for Adult Acne (Natural Skin Care)  including:

  • The difference between acne and adult acne or acne rosacea
  • Aromatherapy blends for inflammation and to directly apply to outbreaks.
  • Personality types generally affected by rosacea.
  • Skin types prone to rosacea.
  • The progression and different types of rosacea.
  • The causes of acne rosacea.
  • Beneficial exercise;  not all exercise is good for people with rosacea.
  • Foods to avoid, definite no-nos for rosacea prone individuals.
  • Emotions that trigger rosacea outbreaks.
  • Intestinal and digestive involvement in rosacea.
  • Genetic ties for rosacea.

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