5 Best Foods for Rosacea

magnifying glass showing rosacea on woman's face

You’ve probably heard for years that the food you put into your body can impact your physical health, both positively and negatively. But your diet also affects your skin, and this may be especially true if you have rosacea.


In this article, we’ll look at the basics of rosacea, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. We’ll also discuss how food plays a role in the treatment of this skin disease, including the best foods for rosacea.  


What is rosacea?

Rosacea is a poorly understood, common, and chronic skin disease marked by inflammation of the face.1


Rosacea tends to affect the central portion of your face, including your cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. It’s also possible for the skin disease to spread to your ears or even your chest or back.


There are 4 subtypes of rosacea:

  1. Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: Involves red, flushed skin. Blood vessels may be visible on the face.
  2. Papulopustular rosacea: Characterized by acne-like breakouts and swollen, red skin.
  3. Phymatous rosacea: Skin can become thick and bumpy.
  4. Ocular rosacea: A type of rosacea that affects the eyes, leading to eye redness, irritation, and swelling.2


These subtypes were recognized in 2002. However, in 2017 the process for diagnosing rosacea was revised and updated to include patient perception of their experience with the disease.3 Now, rosacea symptoms are recognized as individual to the patient and can fit outside the realm of the four subtypes.


For many people with rosacea, symptoms are not always present. However, certain things can trigger rosacea symptoms, including stress and the sun.4 Various foods can also be a trigger for some people with rosacea.


To better understand rosacea, it’s important to look at possible causes and symptoms of the disease.


Causes and symptoms of rosacea

Rosacea is a common skin condition, affecting over 14 million people in the US alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, people over 30 and those with fair skin are more likely to get rosacea.5 However, anyone can get rosacea.


It is not known exactly what causes rosacea, and there are most likely many causes.


Possible causes of rosacea include:

  • Genetics
  • Skin mites
  • Environmental factors6


It has also been suggested that a bacteria called bacillus oleronius as well as a protein called cathelicidin could be other potential causes.7


While the causes of rosacea are not well understood, the symptoms are.

illustration of rosacea symptoms

Rosacea symptoms will depend on the subtype you have as well as the severity of your disease. Typically, you will not experience all the symptoms of rosacea.


Although these will vary from person to person, common rosacea symptoms affecting the face include:

  • Redness
  • Bumps or rash
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Thickened skin
  • Irritated eyes2


These symptoms typically appear on the center of your face, but rosacea can also appear on your ears, back, scalp, or chest.2 Rosacea symptoms may change over time, often becoming more intense or lasting longer.


Because rosacea appears primarily on the face, it also impacts the mental health and self-esteem of those affected.8


Can diet help with rosacea?

The evidence supporting the use of various foods for rosacea is limited. But anecdotal evidence from people with rosacea may help us understand the connection.


While we don’t have strong evidence supporting the role of diet in rosacea, there does seem to be some sort of link between the two. For example, many (but not all) rosacea patients report various foods that appear to trigger symptoms.


Common reported rosacea triggers include alcohol, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, caffeine, and fatty foods.9 It is not known exactly how these and other foods trigger rosacea symptoms, but inflammation may be a factor.


Another area of research that pertains to rosacea patients is a possible connection between the gut and the skin. Conflicting evidence on the topic has shown that inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases, like celiac, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis, may affect people with rosacea more than those who do not have it.10


Along with these findings, the gut microbiome, which can be greatly impacted by what you eat, may also play a role in the development of rosacea symptoms. It has been theorized that an improper balance of bacteria in the gut can lead to the formation of rosacea.10


Again, much of the research done on the link between diet and rosacea has found conflicting results. Regardless, there may be certain foods that can be beneficial.


What are the best foods for rosacea?

foods high in omega 3 - salmon and avocado next to nuts and seeds

Certain nutrients and foods for rosacea have been studied. However, the research in this area has not been extensive and results remain mixed.


Regardless, there is some evidence, both scientific and anecdotal, that supports the use of a handful of foods and nutrients in the adjunct treatment of rosacea. The following are 5 foods that show the most promise for reducing rosacea.


1 – Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been studied for their use in the treatment of various health issues that involve inflammation, like rosacea. A recent update outlined how omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammatory markers in the body.11 Because omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, they are often recommended to people with inflammatory diseases for their therapeutic effects. 


Unfortunately, studies specifically looking at omega-3 fatty acids and rosacea are few and far between. However, one clinical trial on 130 people with ocular rosacea found that omega-3 fatty acids improved dry eye symptoms after 6 months of supplementation.12


You can find omega-3 fatty acids in foods like fatty fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts, and omega-3-enriched eggs. This nutrient is also available in supplement form.


2 – Anti-inflammatory foods

Other anti-inflammatory foods may be beneficial for managing rosacea symptoms besides omega-3 fatty acids. The antioxidants in certain foods are thought to fight off free radicals that could cause inflammation and other damage to your body.13


Anti-inflammatory foods include berries, apples, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beans, nuts, avocados, whole grains, sweet potatoes, and many other plant-based foods.


3 – Zinc

foods high in zinc - salmon next to cheese and nuts

A trace mineral, zinc may be another nutrient that could be used to reduce rosacea symptoms.


Research on zinc for rosacea is limited and results are conflicting, but there is some evidence that supplementing with the mineral could improve rosacea symptoms.9 In one human trial, supplementing with 100 mg of zinc sulfate three times per day resulted in less severe rosacea symptoms.14


While evidence supporting the role of zinc in rosacea treatment is not strong, eating foods rich in zinc may provide benefits. Zinc-rich foods include fish, meat, beans, yogurt, nuts, oatmeal, and seeds.



Learn how ZYTO can help you make better food choices based on the body’s unique energetic responses.


4 – Prebiotics

As previously noted, researchers are looking at the connection between the gut and the skin, and what they learn could be especially important to people with rosacea. Along with this, prebiotics, or nondigestible food ingredients that feed “good” bacteria in your gut, are being looked at for their potential role in treating rosacea.10


Although studies have not yet been performed specifically on prebiotics and their effect on rosacea, we do know that the use of prebiotics encourages a healthy gut. Prebiotics have been found to improve the immune response, which has a positive impact on the health of your skin. And prebiotics have been found to benefit the symptoms of atopic dermatitis, another inflammatory skin disease like rosacea.15


You can find prebiotics in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Examples include bananas, apples, oats, barley, seaweed, onions, garlic, asparagus, and artichokes.  


5 – Probiotics

Probiotics are similar to prebiotics, except probiotics contain actual live “good” bacteria (rather than being a food source to help beneficial bacteria grow in your gut).


When it comes to rosacea, probiotics may be able to help your body fight off bacteria that could create rosacea symptoms.10 Research is still developing in this area, but what we do know so far is promising.


Food sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, and other fermented foods.


Getting treatment for rosacea

Along with implementing the foods above, a healthy lifestyle can help reduce rosacea symptoms. This includes the basics like exercise, getting enough sleep, and keeping hydrated. However, you should visit a dermatologist if you’re looking for more targeted treatment options and results.


Treating rosacea should reduce your symptoms and provide some comfort.


Usually, a topical treatment will be the first option. Various topical treatments may be used for rosacea, like azelaic acid, ivermectin, and metronidazole, among others.16 Many topical treatments work to reduce inflammation and redness caused by certain types of rosacea.


If your skin doesn’t respond to topical treatments, oral medications are also available.


Oral antibiotics, like doxycycline, are one option. However, these cannot be used long-term. Beta-blockers cause blood vessels in your face to become narrower and are another oral medication sometimes used to treat rosacea.16


It’s important to point out here that oral medications come with a longer list of possible side effects compared to other treatments. This is because they affect your entire body rather than just your face.


Some people with rosacea prefer laser treatment or light therapy. These may be a good option for people with visible blood vessels on their faces. You should know, though, that laser treatment and light therapy for rosacea have not been well-researched, which means we don’t definitively know how well these treatment options work.


If you are concerned about potential side effects from prescription medications, seeing a holistic doctor may be a better option for you. A holistic doctor such as a naturopath can offer more natural solutions with fewer side effects while providing the relief you need.




About Brittany Lubeck
Brittany Lubeck is a registered dietitian and nutrition writer. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics, a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition, and began her career as a clinical dietitian. Brittany has always enjoyed research and loves that she can help people learn more about nutrition through her writing.





1. Buddenkotte, J., & M. Steinhoff. “Recent advances in understanding and managing rosacea.” F1000 Research Faculty Rev-1885 (2018).

2. “Rosacea: Overview.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. Aad.org.

3. van Vuuren, E.J., B.W.M. Arents, et al. “Rosacea: New Concepts in Classification and Treatment.” American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 22, no. 4 (2021): 457-465.

4. “Rosacea.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Niams.nih.gov.

5. “Rosacea: Who Gets and Causes.” American Academy of Dermatology Association. Aad.org.

6. “Rosacea.” National Library of Medicine. Medlineplus.gov.

7. “Reports on Completed Research: Association found between rosacea and ulcerative colitis.” National Rosacea Society. Rosacea.org.

8. Rainer, B.M., S. Kang, & A.L. Chien. “Rosacea: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, and treatment.” Dermato Endocrinology 9, no. 1 (2017): e1361574.

9. Searle, T., F.R. Ali, et al. “Rosacea and Diet: What is New in 2021?” The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 14, no. 12 (2021): 49-54.

10. Weiss, E., & R. Katta. “Diet and rosacea: the role of dietary change in the management of rosacea.” Dermatology Practical & Conceptual 7, no. 4 (2017): 31-37.

11. Djuricic, I., & P.C. Calder. “Beneficial Outcomes of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Human Health: An Update for 2021.” Nutrients 13, no. 7 (2021): 2421.

12. Bhargava, R., M. Chandra, et al. “A Randomized Controlled Trial of Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Rosacea Patients with Dry Eye Symptoms.” Current Eye Research 41, no. 10 (2016): 1274-1280.

13. Serafini, M., & I. Peluso. “Functional Foods for Health: The Interrelated Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Role of Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Spices and Cocoa in Humans.” Current Pharmaceutical Design 22, no. 44 (2016): 6701-6715.

14. Sharquie, K.E., R.A. Najim, & H.N. Al-Salman. “Oral zinc sulfate in the treatment of rosacea: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” International Journal of Dermatology 45, no. 7 (2006): 857-861.

15. Al-Ghazzewi, F.H., & R.F. Tester. “Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health.” Beneficial Microbes 5, no. 2 (2014): 99-107.

16. “What are the treatment options for rosacea?” National Library of Medicine. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.


The information provided in this article is intended to improve, not replace, the direct relationship between the client (or site visitor) and healthcare professionals.

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