Rosacea is a common skin condition that can be frustrating and embarrassing. It is characterized by increased facial redness and sometimes bumps, which can be mistaken for acne. One of the common misconceptions about rosacea is that coffee and caffeine can trigger flare-ups and worsen the skin condition!
What is Rosacea?
Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects more than 14 million people in the United States alone. The condition is characterized by flushing, redness and visible blood vessels on facial skin. Rosacea is also commonly mistaken as acne because it can also include pus-filled bumps. It is also mistaken for rosy cheeks and sunburn and has been notoriously associated with heavy alcohol use.
There are four different types of rosacea, but the official cause is unknown. It is believed to be caused by multiple factors including a dense presence of sebaceous (oil) glands in the facial area, and high levels of hormones that can cause inflammation. One of the biggest misconceptions about rosacea is that it is caused by poor hygiene, but it is actually a result of a combination of hereditary and environmental factors.
What Can Trigger Rosacea?
Foods to avoid with rosacea
Like coffee, other hot and spicy foods can trigger the same reflex that dilates blood vessels and increases flushing of facial skin. Foods that contain histamines can also trigger rosacea. Histamines are natural chemical compounds that induce inflammation by increasing vasodilation. Rosacea is an inflammatory disease, so avoiding inflammatory foods may help to avoid flare-up or reduce symptoms. Foods that have high histamine content include alcoholic beverages, pickled or canned foods, smoked meat products, shellfish, and nuts.
Extreme weather conditions can also aggravate rosacea. Hot weather can cause dilation of blood vessels in order for the body to reduce heat which increases facial flushing. Extreme cold weather and wind can irritate the skin, which can also cause flare-ups.
Some medications cause vasodilation, which can increase facial flushing. Blood pressure medications including beta blockers and niacin can cause blood to rush to the face and trigger a rosacea flare-up.
Coffee and Rosacea: Facts and Fiction
One of the biggest myths surrounding rosacea is that drinking coffee can make it worse. The real problem with drinking coffee is the heat of most coffee beverages. It turns out that drinking a hot cup of coffee stimulates the thermoregulatory reflex. The bright red flushing is due to the dilation of blood vessels that open to allow heat to escape. This reaction tends to be intensified in individuals with rosacea. This was determined by a study that also discovered that the caffeine content in coffee does not affect rosacea. Therefore, if you are trying to avoid flushing or a rosacea flare, opt for an iced coffee, iced tea, or cold brew in order to get your coffee fix.
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