I posted a brief introduction to rosacea HERE, including my diagnosis story and a list of common triggers. But I wanted to write about my lifestyle and diet tips for coping with rosacea.
As I have had rosacea for 14 years, I have learned my triggers very well and have now made certain changes to my lifestyle and diet that have made a huge difference. I truly believe that there is a causal link between intestinal health and rosacea flare ups, and therefore it’s one of the main ways in which I control my rosacea. Depending on your triggers, I would really recommend trying these if you feel you can. But do them one at a time to determine how much of an effect they have (and to save your sanity!):
Please note that I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. These are all my tips for coping with rosacea, things that have worked for me, but only you can know your skin and what your triggers are. If you don’t want to do any of the below, you don’t have to. I’m not here to preach, I just wanted to give you some insight on what has worked for me.
My lifestyle and diet tips for coping with rosacea
It goes without saying that if you have a skin condition, your skin care is of the utmost importance. But I’m going to do a whole separate blog on this as I could talk for days!
I have tried to give up caffeine (apart from special occasions – I know, I’m *so* rock n roll). This was tricky as I depended, psychologically, on my morning coffee to perk me up and prepare me for the day. The difference to my skin is definitely noticeable which makes it easier. I replaced coffee with green tea (which does still have some caffeine in but not enough to trigger my flare ups), hot water with lemon, or plain old squash. (UPDATE 2019: It’s now believed that it’s not the caffeine that causes a flare up but the heat of the beverage. I now drink coffee every day with no issues because I wait until it’s cooled.)
I don’t tend to drink alcohol during the week (or on the weekend unless I’m going out). When my rosacea was at its worst I was at uni. I was drinking a lot and my skin reflected that. I notice the results of a night out or boozey holiday immediately so I tend to restrict it to special occasions. 18 year old Lex would disown me if she could see me now! This seems to be one of the hardest things people try to cut down on or give up but it’s all about the reaction you have. Flare ups are painful and not only have a physical effect but also a mental one, so I tend to weigh up those consequences against just how much I would like a big glass of red wine. Sometimes I do just say ‘bugger it all, I NEED GIN’ but I’m also aware of what will happen afterwards!
EXTREMES OF TEMPERATURE
Living in the UK means distinct seasons which means that in a matter of months my skin can be unhappy about any of the following: cold wind and rain, central heating, a heatwave or ice cold air conditioning. Avoiding these is impossible unless you stay in a temperature controlled room for your entire life so you have to learn to work around them. Wrap a scarf around as much of your face as you can in cold temperatures (though avoid overheating your face with your breath underneath!), carry a fan and a water mist in hot weather to cool you down.
I will hold my hands up and say I’m not a huge exercise person. I should be and I’m trying to get into it more. However, if you have rosacea exercise becomes even more of a faff than it already is. As you get warm, through exertion, your face naturally flushes. But for someone with rosacea this can trigger an extended flush which is uncomfortable and sore. I would recommend non-cardio forms of exercise: yoga and pilates are great as they don’t cause you to overheat (unless you do Bikram yoga – which would be a terrible idea) and are also great for learning relaxation techniques which may help you to calm yourself and gain composure when in the middle of a flare up. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the poses in yoga and pilates can trigger a flare up (e.g. anything that involves your head being below your heart).
Dairy is a common trigger for many people. Swapping to soy/almond milk for cereal, smoothies and puddings was pretty easy but cheese is still my downfall. It’s just so delicious! Again, I weigh up my desire for comforting cheese on toast and the resulting flare up.
WHEAT AND GLUTEN
Wheat and gluten is another beast altogether. I have a lot of food intolerances and – with supervision from my doctor – I did the FODMAP elimination diet (you can read about HERE) which helped me to see what foods were making me unwell. I believe there’s a definite link between gut health and the skin, and I saw an immediate improvement in my skin. The FODMAP diet is a hard and extreme thing to do, so by no means do I recommend it for everyone, but for me there was a definite crossover between my diet issues and some of my rosacea flare ups.
What tips do you have for avoiding or minimising your triggers and flare ups?
I really hope that this blog post was helpful and that it has shown you that there are ways to manage rosacea, even if some of them do seem like torture! I have written blogs on the psychological impact of rosacea and the skincare tips that help me to manage the condition.
Looking for some next steps?
- Follow me on INSTAGRAM for lots of rosacea updates.
- Get more information on rosacea and my journey so far in my ROSACEA FAQ POST.
- Join my private rosacea FACEBOOK GROUP.
- And – exciting news! – I’ve just launched some digital downloads to help you get to grips with your rosacea: grab the Rosacea Trigger Checklist and the Rosacea Flare Up Diary.