Top 9 Common Rosacea Triggers: Avoid Flare-ups!

Discover the Rosacea triggers causing your recurring flare-ups and how to clear your skin naturally.

Have you ever found yourself canceling plans because you’re concerned about a Rosacea flare-up? You’re not the only one!

In fact, 90% of individuals with rosacea reported experiencing diminished self‐esteem and self‐confidence, and 41% reported avoiding social activities because of the effect of rosacea on their appearance. 1

Maybe it’s a day at the beach, a bike ride, or an Indian restaurant. Whatever it is, it’s something you know will cause your skin to turn red. 

Those of us with rosacea understand all too well the planning, preparation, and anxiety that goes into every single outing. 

“Do I have sunblock?” 

“Will there be shade?”

“When can I apply more makeup?”

“Will I be drinking alcohol?” 

“Will I be meeting new people?”

Avoidance will always be an inconvenient option. But it’s important to understand that triggers don’t cause rosacea; they provoke the immediate flare-up. 

Luckily, we’ve identified 9 of the most common triggers setting off your rosacea flare-ups and how to deal with them on a daily basis without losing your cool!

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea triggers can these most common symptoms.

Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes redness and sensitivity to the face.

Symptoms of rosacea flareups may include:

  • Heat and redness in cheeks, nose, and/or face
  •  Acne-like bumps on your cheeks
  •  Red/flared-up nose 
  •  Dry, red, and/or irritated eyes
  •  Sensitivity to sunlight, spicy foods, and/or topical products
  •  Thickening of the skin, cheeks, and/or nose

How common is rosacea? Who does rosacea affect?

  • Rosacea affects 10% of the population in the UK and the USA
  •  Worldwide, it affects over 400 million people
  •  Typically, it targets women between the ages of 30 and 50
  •  It is more common in people with fair skin and light eyes

The Cause of Rosacea is Unknown

There is no apparent cause of rosacea yet. However, research points to many biological similarities in Rosacea patients that must be researched more thoroughly. Some of these include: 

  • Immune System Defects
  •  Gut Dysbiosis (SIBO, H.pylori, etc.)
  •  Genetics
  •  Dysregulation of Neurovascular system
  •  Demodex Overgrowth
  •  Chronic inflammation due to other comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, neurological and autoimmune diseases, and certain cancers

When to Seek Medical Care for Diagnosis and Treatment

Only a dermatologist can accurately diagnose rosacea. If you suspect you have rosacea, visit a dermatologist to rule out other similar skin conditions. 

If you feel something may be a rosacea trigger or may cause a rosacea flare-up, inform a dermatologist of these factors.

Why Do So Many People Go Undiagnosed?

Rosacea is a condition that creeps in slowly. In fact, it may have been building internally for many years before you actually see it on the surface of your skin. It may start with a persistent red flush after a hot shower, tiny pimples on your cheeks, or a terrible sunburn after just a half hour in the afternoon sun. 

By the time you see a dermatologist, these events are happening more frequently, and friends may have even commented, 

“Wow, your face is really red!”

For some, the symptoms are subtle enough to ignore until one day, BAM, a rosacea flare-up strikes, and your skin is never quite the same.

9 Common Rosacea Triggers That Can Cause a Flare-Up and Make Rosacea Worse

While knowing and understanding the common rosacea triggers is essential, many doctors feel that avoiding these triggers is not a long-term solution.

Dr. Tara O’Desky, a functional medicine doctor and rosacea specialist, describes her own experience with rosacea:

“For years, I avoided sunlight, colorful foods, social outings, exercise, and so much more at the advice of my dermatologists. And while my rosacea seemed to be ‘managed,’ my diet was extremely limited, I was developing other health conditions, and my mental health was at an all-time low.”

These 5 rosacea triggers are the most researched and backed by multiple scientific research studies that are linked: alcohol, cinnamaldehyde, fatty foods, spicy foods, and dairy products.
Source: National Library of Medicine2

Many practitioners are now focusing on internal healing rather than rosacea trigger avoidance, with promising results. Below are some of the most common rosacea triggers that cause flare-ups.

Sunlight & UV rays: a common rosacea trigger. 1. Sunlight

Why this a Rosacea trigger: Sun exposure, particularly ultraviolet radiation, activates specific molecules in the skin called ROS (reactive oxygen species). 

These molecules trigger inflammation that will initiate an immune response. Your face is hyper-sensitive to ultraviolet sunlight and responds the same way it would during an allergic reaction.

How to avoid a flare-up: Use a sun hat or baseball hat in direct sunlight. If using sunblock, make sure it’s a mineral sunblocknot a chemical sunblock, which can often cause allergic reactions.

emotional stress : a common rosacea trigger.  2. Emotional Stress

Why this is a Rosacea trigger: It turns out that nerve cells play a big role in regulating skin cells. 

According to research by Dr. Richard Granstein, the Department of Dermatology’s chairperson at Weill Cornell Medical College, this can lead to inflammation and dilated blood vessels in the skin and possibly immune processes.

How to avoid a flare-up: At the first sign of stress or anxiety, remove yourself from the situation if possible, and begin deep breathing exercises.

hot weather: : a common rosacea trigger 3. Hot Weather

Why this a Rosacea trigger: Heat causes blood vessels to dilate, and when this occurs in the face, the result is a rush of blood and a visible rosy flush.

How to avoid a flare-up:

  • Use a cooling towel around your neck.
  •  Immerse your feet or hands in cold water for a quick cool-down.
  •  Take frequent breaks in air conditioning to prevent overheating.

physical activity: : a common rosacea trigger 4. Physical Activity

Why this is a Rosacea trigger: Your body uses vasodilation (or widening your blood vessels) to carry the additional oxygen and nutrients that muscle cells need during exercise. 

Unfortunately, this increased blood flow can also rapidly trigger rosacea symptoms. 

How to avoid a flare-up: use a chilled or damp towel on your neck and drink plenty of water. Take frequent breaks and stay in a cold, air-conditioned room or outside when the temperature is mild so as not to overheat. 

Cinnamaldehyde containing foods: a common rosacea trigger5. Cinnamaldehyde Containing Foods

Why this is a rosacea trigger: Cinnamaldehyde is another chemical found in foods such as cinnamon, tomatoes, and citrus, which can cause a similar flare-up response.

How to avoid a flare-up: It’s important to adjust your lifestyle by carefully reading food labels to avoid cinnamaldehyde; additionally, be mindful of these ingredients in restaurants and when cooking at home.

spicy food: : a common rosacea trigger 6. Spicy Foods

Why this is a Rosacea trigger: Capsaicin is a chemical found in spicy food. When eaten, capsaicin can cause a specific receptor (TRPV1) to be activated, which can dilate blood vessels, thus inducing a flare-up.

How to avoid a flare-up: Many restaurants can make dishes “not spicy” by avoiding chili peppers, jalapeños, and other hots, which are known to cause a visible flare-up.

alcohol: : a common rosacea trigger 7. Alcohol

Why this a Rosacea trigger: Alcohol triggers an immediate internal response in the form of dilated blood vessels to allow your body to quickly process the alcohol. Dilated blood vessels = rosacea flare-up.

How to avoid a flare-up: Wine is known to cause flare-ups more than other types of alcohol. Try different variations, such as beer or mixed drinks, to see if the flare-ups still happen. Or better yet, choose a fun, non-alcoholic beverage recipe! 

some prescribed and over-the-counter medications: a common rosacea trigger 8. Medications

Why this a Rosacea trigger: Many common prescriptions can be rosacea triggers, such as:

  • Steroids
  •  Blood Pressure Medications
  •  Opiates

While these do not cause rosacea, they can cause an internal reaction, which results in the classic rosacea flare-up.

How to avoid a flare-up: if you’re using a new topical medication, discuss possible reactions with your doctor and follow the skincare guidelines above. 

skincare product sensitivity: : a common rosacea trigger 9. Skincare Products

Why this a Rosacea trigger: Today’s skincare products have many unnecessary chemical ingredients, including:

  • Artificial Colors
  • Artificial Fragrances
  • Alcohol
  • Heavy Metals
  • Irritants

Some other common skincare ingredients many people react to include:

  • Witch Hazel
  •  Acetone
  •  Formaldehyde
  •  Glycolic acid
  •  Talcum

How to Avoid a Flare-up:

  1. Try a new skincare item on your inner wrist first and watch for a reaction for several days
  2. If that goes well, try a patch test on your jawline or upper forehead for at least 2 days
  3. Use a small amount on your face and again watch for a reaction
  4. Purchase clean brands with minimal ingredients and third-party testing for contaminants

Your Body and Rosacea Triggers

How the Dilatation of Blood Vessels (Which Decreases Blood Pressure) Can Cause a Rosacea Flare-Up

Vasodilation is an everyday bodily occurrence whereby your blood vessels widen for one of the following reasons:

  • To distribute enough oxygen and nutrients throughout your body (exercise)
  •  To help regulate body temperature (stepping into a hot shower)
  •  To heal an infection in a specific area of the body (local swelling of an injury)
  •  In response to certain medications, foods, or drinks (alcohol)

Although vasodilation is a normal human response, a person with rosacea can deal with the resulting redness of increased blood flow several times throughout the day or even chronically. 

Knowing what causes vasodilation naturally can help you navigate a minefield of potential Rosacea triggers and flare-ups.

How to Find & Confirm Your Rosacea Triggers

Keep a rosacea journal and make a note of each time you flared up and what happened to cause the flare-up. 

If you know a situation that always frustrates you, such as standing in line at the store, make adjustments so you no longer have to experience this. 

Preventing Rosacea Flare-Ups Naturally with Nutrition

In a 2018 survey, 73% of patients reported that changing their diet did reduce rosacea exacerbation frequency. 3

Doctors typically advise patients to avoid:

  • Spicy Foods
  •  High Histamine Foods
  •  Nightshades

But this can leave a person struggling to find nutritious meals. 

Conversely, many rosacea patients have seen success by broadening their diets to include foods that focus on gut healing and liver support instead of concentrating on avoiding rosacea triggers.

In an NRS survey of 400 patients, 78 percent had changed their diet as a measure to control rosacea. Seventy-five percent of patients in this group subsequently had a reduction of rosacea flares.4

The Bottom Line: 

Uncover Your Rosacea Triggers & Prevent Unexpected Flare-ups

Uncovering your own rosacea triggers is easier said than done. But by making modifications to your daily activities, you may be able to prevent these triggers from causing a stubborn rosacea flare-up.

However, it is also crucial that you don’t stop living your life. 

To do that, you should make small changes to your diet and lifestyle to uncover what specific situations, environments, and foods will potentially bring on your own rosacea flare-ups.

And by focusing on healing internally, you can take control of your symptoms so that these flare-ups will no longer interfere with life events.

FAQs About Rosacea Triggers and Flare-Ups

Q: What are the top triggers for rosacea flare-ups?

A: The top triggers for rosacea flare-ups include:
Sun exposure
Hot weather
Heavy exercise
Hot baths
Spicy foods

Q: How can I avoid rosacea flare-ups?

A: To avoid rosacea flare-ups, identify and avoid the rosacea triggers mentioned above. Additionally, sticking to a gentle skincare routine and avoiding the temptation to buy more topical products can save you from the dreaded allergic reaction.

Q: What role does caffeine play in triggering rosacea flare-ups?

A: Caffeine has the potential to trigger rosacea flare-ups in some individuals. Be aware of your caffeine intake and consider reducing it if you find it exacerbates your symptoms.

Q: Where can I find additional information about managing rosacea triggers?

A: You can find valuable information about managing rosacea triggers from practitioners who look at the body as a whole, not just the skin. These can include naturopathic physicians, functional medicine doctors, and holistic health professionals.

Q: Can environmental factors trigger rosacea flare-ups?

A: Yes, a rosacea flare-up could be the result of environmental factors such as:
-Sun exposure
-Hot weather
Protecting your skin from these elements can help minimize rosacea flare-ups.

Q: What is the role of lifestyle changes in managing rosacea?

A: Making lifestyle changes such as avoiding people and situations which cause anxiety and establishing a gentle skincare routine can significantly help manage your symptoms and minimize rosacea flare-ups.

Q: Is laser treatment a practical option for managing rosacea symptoms?

A: Laser treatment is often promoted as an effective option for managing specific symptoms of rosacea, such as redness and visible blood vessels. However, it’s best to consult a dermatologist to determine if this treatment suits your case. Many people report worsening symptoms after topical treatments including laser, microdermabrasion and others.

Q: How can keeping a diary help identify rosacea triggers?

A: Keeping a diary of your daily activities and food intake can help you identify patterns and potential triggers for your rosacea flare-ups. This information can then be used to make necessary adjustments to manage your symptoms better.

Q: Can stress be a trigger for rosacea flare-ups?

A: Yes, stress is a common trigger for rosacea flare-ups. Calming activities like meditation, exercise, and therapy can help manage and reduce the stress affecting your rosacea symptoms.


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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Tara O’Desky nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

A woman smiling in the grass blocking her face from a Rosacea Trigger, sunlight.
  1. Jen says:

    I have just recently come across your page and it has been so helpful and very informative! A lot of eye opening information that I had not even been aware of! Thank you for being open and sharing your story for us!

  2. Ashley says:

    Alcohol causes me to flare, but only sometimes! Is this common?

  3. Sandra says:

    The information is so helpful. As I kept reading and reading, it really made me dive into my own system and questioned the path I am going through. Thank you for bringing this to light to me and all of us!

  4. Concepción Rodríguez says:

    What most impact has in my rosacea it is the stress, emotional issues and spicy foods.

  5. Mary says:

    So helpful! Thank you for all the info!

  6. Kayla says:

    I am doing as much research on this journey as possible and enjoy the information you share! I refuse to use a prescription for the rest of my life. I know there’s a better way. Thank you for explaining triggers and why they can happen instead of just saying “stop eating this, drinking this, doing this forever”.

  7. Allison c says:

    Hooray!! Looking forward to trying your program. Can’t wait.

  8. Renate says:

    So insightful and clear. Thank you

  9. L Doolan says:

    Been watched your 101 webinar and am so happy I found your content. Going to take your course to help my Fiancé

  10. Jennifer Rodrigues says:

    How do you know what the cause is if you are constantly red and inflamed?

  11. Viktoria Nielsen says:

    I really want to know more about rosacea and the mind. How a healthy mindset is important. But how?

  12. Erin Watts says:

    This information felt very close to my soul. Every day I have to consider going out into the sun and if there is shade/did I pack my hat/will people ask me what’s wrong with my skin?
    I hope one day to be able to heal my skin from the inside out. Thanks Tara

  13. Victoria says:

    Your tips has made my rosacea much better! You’re an angel, thank you so much ❤️

  14. Fiona McGrath says:

    Love reading everything about you amd your program ❤️ I have learnt a lot but will join up and learn more ..Thankyou for all your support to us all x

  15. Lauren Cestra says:

    My question is how or why soolantra/irvemectin which intended for mites helps if i have a bad flare from food? (One of my triggers, which is tomatoes)?

    • Tara O'Desky says:

      The mites don’t cause rosacea, but they can make your symptoms worse. Best to focus on internal healing and then you won’t react to foods, and you won’t react to demodex mites!

      • Sanne says:

        I struggle with many symptoms since early childhood. (Something off in digestion is one reason, and another is the ability to release or coöp stress/adrenaline). No doctor could help me to find answers. Trying to learn figure it out by myself. Eating wholefoods, and less-no fats.

        I am wondering did you see some similar cases with lifelong symptoms/illnesses that healed rosacea symptoms?

  16. Charlotte says:

    My symptoms are more rash like bumps all over my face nothing seems to help 😟

  17. Trisha says:

    There are alot of things I didn’t know about rosacea that are on here.

  18. Allison says:

    Your blog & instagram posts have been so informative & helpful!

  19. Amanda says:

    Finding the root cause is crucial!

  20. Maya says:

    Dear Dr. Tara I’m grateful for your introduction to the significance of diet and gut health in managing rosacea. Your insightful guidance has been instrumental in fostering both my skin and overall well-being. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and making a positive impact on my health journey. I’m only just beginning but what a relief it is to hear that we can heal. Thank you truly

  21. Kandice Hill says:

    Recently discovered that nightshades are a huge trigger for me. After looking into it further I’ve found my mom can’t have tomatoes and neither could my great aunt.
    It’s all starting to make sense.

  22. Leigh McGrath says:

    I am so thankful I have discovered your page and I hope to be able to sign up to your method. I’ve tried everything and am desperate to get back to my outgoing lifestyle . You give me hope. Thank you from Australia.

  23. Leigh McGrath says:

    I am very thankful I have discovered your page and I hope to be able to sign up to your method. I’ve tried everything and am desperate to get back to my outgoing lifestyle . You give me hope. Thank you from Australia.

  24. Kelly says:

    I appreciate how much information that you share!

  25. Danielle says:

    Fantastic blog and Instagram page. Has helped me so much since being diagnosed a few months ago, am hoping to continue to learn and improve my skin/overall health!

  26. Grace says:

    Strangely my rosacea was almost non-existent when I was living in the Caribbean under a lot of sun & much hotter weather! Alcohol, high histamine foods and emotional stress are definitely huge triggers for me.
    Thank you for your work, slowly implementing things into my life from your instagram page & I have hope 🙏

    • Tara O'Desky says:

      I hear this all the time… when people move to American and start eating our processed foods and living indoors, your health suffers. I’m so glad you found my page!

  27. Danielle says:

    I’m grateful for all the knowledge you share about Rosacea on your IG page. It’s very helpful. Thank you!

  28. Emma says:

    So much clear information, thank you!

  29. Hayley says:

    Oof. I needed to read all of this. I’ve had a huge flare up this year. I was really enjoying grapefruits! Now I see they could have made my skin so much worse. I cut out gluten entirely, started healing my gut and doing a gentle cleanse protocol. My skin was starting to clear up from type 2 symptoms. I’ve avoided tomatoes and tomato sauce for, many years. Until my boyfriend requested I make spaghetti bolongnese for his birthday dinner. I couldn’t resist having some of it because I made a masterpiece of a sauce! I am paying dearly for it now. My skin has never been so bad. I realize there’s a long road ahead. I’m so curious about what I don’t yet know about this journey….

    • Tara O'Desky says:

      If you ate some of the spaghetti you could have been reacting to the gluten! Especially if you’ve been GF for a while now. I do hope you join the program because we can help you navigate all of this!!

  30. Marizela Tolea says:

    My skin has improved so much by following your tips. Thank you 🥰! I’m so happy I found you!

  31. Katie says:

    Thank you for all the great information!

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Learn More About Me

20 years of rosacea

Since developing her own holistic healing program, she has helped countless patients of all ages with
  • rosacea
  • chronic skin issues
  • gut issues
  • food sensitivities
  • inflammatory conditions

Dr. O'Desky continues to practice in the US A and also sees patients via Telehealth. She currently offers various programs and workshops for clients all over the world dealing with chronic health issues, poor gut health, and  rosacea. 

After 20 years of ineffective treatments and medications, Dr. O'Desky reversed her rosacea 100% through dietary changes and food-based medicine.

Health Coach & Holistic Skin Expert

Dr. Tara O'Desky

After 20 years of ineffective treatments and medications, Dr. O'Desky reversed her rosacea 100% through dietary and lifestyle changes.

Since developing her own holistic healing program, 
The Rosacea Method, she has helped countless patients of all ages with:
  • rosacea
  • chronic skin issues
  • gut health
  • food sensitivities
  • inflammatory conditions

Dr. O'Desky continues to see patients in private practice in the USA and also sees clients via Telehealth. She currently offers various programs and workshops for people all over the world dealing with chronic health issues, poor gut health, and rosacea. 

Health Coach and Holistic Skin Expert

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