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Home / Rosacea / Good and bad foods for rosacea

Good and bad foods for rosacea

Find out which foods keep your skin under control and which might cause flare-ups

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes unusual flushing of the cheeks and face. It is sometimes confused with acne or sunburn due to the appearance of redness.

A close-up of a woman’s face with rosacea

Rosacea can be triggered by numerous things, including stress, sunlight, or cold weather. However, diet can also have a major effect. In one study Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source taken on over 400 people with rosacea:

  • 78% of people changed their diet to help manage their condition
  • 95% of these people saw improvements in their flare-ups

Keep reading to find out the best and worst foods for managing rosacea, so you can keep your skin under control.

What are the best foods for rosacea?

The following foods are most likely to keep your rosacea under control, as well as promote healthy, clear skin in general.

Best foods for rosacea

Leafy greens

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease. Therefore, eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties can help to keep your skin calm.

Leafy greens contain high levels of vitamins that help to control inflammation in the body. Some examples include:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • rainbow chard
  • rocket
  • turnip greens
  • collard greens

Adding any of these to your diet will help fight inflammation, and should aid in controlling your rosacea symptoms.

Leafy greens are also high in vitamin E, which plays an important role in protecting your skin health.

Top tip: The darker the greens, the more nutritional benefits. Try opting for kale or chard instead of iceberg lettuce.

Fermented food

Having a healthy gut reduces inflammation in the body, which can help to reduce rosacea flare-ups.

Adding fermented foods to your diet can help to restore and maintain the healthy bacteria in your gut.

Three jars of fermented vegetables

Fermented foods include:

  • sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • kefir (fermented milk)
  • natural, plain yoghurt
  • kimchi
  • kombucha (a fermented tea drink)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • sourdough bread
  • miso paste

By keeping your gut healthy, you are more likely to have calmer skin due to less inflammation.

Fatty fish

Fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines, all contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

These have a wide range of health benefits including the:

  • support of brain health
  • prevention of heart disease and stroke
  • promotion of healthy, glowing skin

Omega-3s have been linked with improving symptoms of ocular rosacea. This is when you experience inflammation around the eyes, which causes redness, dryness, and burning.

Researchers Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source have found that:

Omega-3 fatty acids caused a significant improvement in dry eye symptoms in people with ocular rosacea.

Consider adding two portions of fatty fish to your diet weekly. Not only might this improve ocular rosacea symptoms - it could also improve your skin’s moisture and overall complexion.

Olive oil

Olive oil is one of the best fats you can cook with. It contains less saturated fats, and is generally considered a healthier fat source in comparison with animal fats.

A bottle of olive oil being poured into a small, clear dish

Virgin olive oil (extracted without the use of heat or chemicals) contains a compound called oleocanthal, which has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Cooking with olive oil instead of animal fat will benefit your overall health and help to reduce inflammation and rosacea flare-ups.

As well as this, pairing olive oil with your greens allows you to take full advantage of their nutritional benefits.

Our bodies need fat to absorb vitamins effectively. By adding olive oil to your salads, you can make the most of the anti-inflammatory nutrients found in your veggies.


Turmeric is a spice that is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is a herbal remedy that can help reduce the painful inflammation that comes with rosacea.

You can add the spice to your diet, or apply it directly to the skin. Try making a turmeric face mask by combining the ground spice with raw honey and olive oil.

One study Trusted source PubMed Government Source Database of Biomedical Research Go to source on the effect of turmeric on rosacea found that:

Those given daily pills containing turmeric had 40% less facial redness after 4 weeks, compared with no improvements seen in those taking placebo pills.

If you have rosacea, adding turmeric to your diet is likely to improve your symptoms.

What are the worst foods for rosacea?

The worst foods for rosacea are likely to act as triggers - meaning they could cause you to have flare-ups.

Not all of these foods will necessarily trigger your skin. However, by cutting them out of your diet you might start to notice some improvements in your rosacea.

Worst foods for rosacea


Chilli peppers are known for making meals spicy. But did you know that they can be a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups?

Eating spicy food can affect your nervous system, making your blood vessels widen, causing redness.

Bowls of chillies and ground chilli pepper on a grey slate.

If you have rosacea, eating anything spicy is likely to trigger your condition. Your skin could start to flush within minutes of consuming a spicy meal.

Sacrificing flavour might be one of the best ways to avoid flare-ups. Results from a study Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source showed that most people with rosacea actively avoided spicy food. Out of these participants:

  • 49% avoided Mexican food
  • 33% avoided Indian food
  • 27% avoided Thai food
  • 11% avoided Italian food

Ask for little or no spice when you are out in restaurants if you aren’t willing to cut out entire cuisines.

Foods containing cinnamaldehyde

Cinnamaldehyde is a compound that has been associated with triggering rosacea.

Out of anything you can eat, cinnamon contains the highest amount of this compound.

Cinnamon also has vasodilatory qualities, meaning it can cause the blood vessels to widen and create redness. Try avoiding the spice and see if you have any improvements in your flare-ups.

Cinnamaldehyde also occurs naturally in some fruits and vegetables such as:

  • tomatoes
  • citrus fruits
  • apples
  • carrots
  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • celery
  • cucumber

Whilst these are good foods to include in a healthy balanced diet, they could be underlying triggers for your skin.

Fatty foods

Having a diet high in fatty foods can lead to long-term inflammation. Fatty foods include:

  • fatty meats (such as bacon, sausages, and salami)
  • deep-fried food
  • fast food
  • lard
  • butter
  • chicken skin
  • icecream
A display of fatty foods including pizza, burgers, and crisps

A study Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source that involved 1,347 patients with rosacea showed that a diet high in fat worsened rosacea symptoms, causing more flare-ups.

By cutting out or limiting your intake of fatty foods, you can reduce inflammation and keep your skin under control. Other health benefits of minimising fatty foods include:

  • assisting in weight loss
  • lowering cholesterol and blood pressure
  • reducing the risk of obesity and heart disease


Even though dairy has some health benefits (like containing calcium and vitamin D), it is another inflammatory food. This is due to the saturated fats that occur in full-fat milk and cheeses.

If you eat lots of dairy, you might notice more redness and swelling due to increased inflammation in the body.

Try cutting out dairy for a week and see if there are any improvements in your rosacea flare-ups. Swapping for lower-fat products could also be beneficial.

If you do find that dairy acts as a trigger, you can switch to dairy alternatives such as oat milk, almond milk, or other plant-based products.

High-histamine foods

Histamine is a chemical messenger that causes inflammatory reactions in the body. In fact, histamine-rich foods have been reported Trusted source National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) Government Source Biomedical Research and Literature Go to source as one of the most common triggers in people with rosacea.

Histamine occurs naturally in some kinds of food. These include:

  • processed meats
  • alcoholic beverages
  • dried fruit
  • avocados
  • aubergines
  • spinach
  • shellfish
  • fermented foods
A selection of smoked meats on a wooden chopping board

Whilst fermented foods are great for gut health and reducing inflammation, they could worsen rosacea for some people due to its levels of histamine.

Try omitting them from your diet for several weeks to see whether your skin condition improves or not.

Main takeaways

If you have rosacea, one of the best ways of managing your skin is to focus on your diet.

Try to cut out spicy foods and anything that contains cinnamon. Limiting your intake of smoked meats, dairy, and fast food is also likely to reduce your number of flare-ups.

Instead, eat more foods with anti-inflammatory properties like dark leafy greens. Turmeric can also be a successful herbal remedy, and the healthy fats found in olive oil and fatty fish should improve your skin too.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Anand Abbot MRCGP Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 08-06-2024

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