6

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If Paleo Hasn't Cured Your Acne, Have You Considered Rosacea?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 20, 2012 at 4:23 PM

There have been several questions here asking people to hack stubborn acne that does not respond to paleo lifestyle changes. Some PH-ers have been strict paleo for well over a year and still have not seen results in their skin.

I thought I was going to be joining their ranks. After a few months of following a strict autoimmune paleo diet, my skin was worse than it has ever been in my entire life. It was a very dark time for me. I did not understand why I wasn't getting better. Finally I went to a dermatologist. He looked at my skin under a magnifying glass and immediately told me that I don't acne. I have rosacea.

Rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease, marked by flushing and redness, acne-like lesions, swelling, and visible blood vessels. There is thought to be a hereditary component (I have one parent and one grandparent with the disease) but the causes are not well understood. Although the presence of papules, pustules, and even nodular bumps can resemble acne vulgaris, rosacea lesions have a different cause. Common acne vulgaris is caused when excessive oil builds up and plugs a follicular pore, creating a "comedone" and allowing dirt, bacteria, and cells to accumulate. But in patients with rosacea, there is no comedone. Instead, the acne-like bumps of rosacea are caused by inflammation of the skin's vascular network. There are different theories about the mechanism behind this, but no real consensus.

After I began researching rosacea further, I realized that while many aspects of a paleo lifestyle should help rosaceans (limiting emotional stress, promoting healthy gut flora, avoiding sugar and alcohol), there are some aspects of the common paleo lifestyle that would be very harmful for a rosacean. The benefits of sunlight are often touted in the paleo community, but according to Rosacea.org, one of the most common triggers of rosacea flares is sun exposure (affecting 81% of rosaceans surveyed). Other triggers are hot weather (75%), wind (57%), and exercise (56%). Some foods that reportedly trigger rosacea flares include liver (#1 on the list!), eggplant, avocados, spinach, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bananas, foods high in histamines, spicy foods, and thermally hot foods and beverages.

Now it makes perfect sense why my skin was only getting worse on a paleo diet. I was eating lots of liver and getting tons of sunlight, because I thought both would be good for my "acne." Of course, I did not actually have acne. It only looked like I did. And the liver (a vascular dilater) and sunlight were only making things worse. It's been less than a week since my diagnosis, but my skin has already made a 180 degree turn. It's clear and smooth; the inflammation is gone. Finally I can enjoy a "paleo complexion" for the first time. I am only using sunscreen and a topical antibiotic (I know, both are "not paleo," but my rosacea was scarily progressing and seriously affecting my emotional well-being. I did turn down the recommendation of an oral antibiotic.)

My suspicion is that some of the other people in this community who have not seen their "acne" improve on a paleo diet might actually have undiagnosed rosacea. For people who are still experiencing break-outs after months of paleo, do you also have dry skin, redness, and swelling in addition to pustules? Do you have fair skin or relatives of northern European descent? Have you ever considered rosacea?

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 22, 2012
at 01:34 PM

Gluten is a big factor for me too, but not the only factor, clearly. I've been strictly gluten free for 3 months.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 21, 2012
at 03:49 AM

Really might be rosacea, ROB. I get those tiny bumps too, though I don't have much redness. Niacin and sun exposure really make it worse. Good luck, I really hope you find out what works.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on May 21, 2012
at 12:41 AM

I went to one a long time ago, but they just recommended I take tetracyclne, and some over the counter ointment. They weren't much help. I get no white heads or cystic acne at all as long as I avoid dairy and nightshades, but I have a lot of small like bumps all over my face, and my face is red all over except around my eyes, makes me look like a raccoon.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 20, 2012
at 07:47 PM

ROB, have you been to a dermatologist?

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on May 20, 2012
at 06:39 PM

I have no idea what I have. A mix of seb derm and rosacea I think.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 20, 2012
at 05:13 PM

And I definitely want to continue taking D3 as I think it helps my mood a lot.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 20, 2012
at 05:10 PM

I have been supplementing with D3 for a couple of months now. I don't have any problems with the supplement as far as I can tell. I don't really understand how sunlight aggravates rosacean skin yet and I'm going to do more research on that, but I haven't encountered any reason to avoid taking D3 supplements yet.

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 20, 2012
at 05:09 PM

The topical antibiotic I use is metronidazol. It works as an anti-inflammatory and it is the standard prescription for rosacea. It's pretty gentle and many people with rosacea find it works well for them. My mother has been using it with no problems for decades. (And I'm kicking myself that I didn't think of rosacea earlier considering her history of it!)

A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb

(4181)

on May 20, 2012
at 05:02 PM

Thanks for this! I have considered this before but will look into it again.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on May 20, 2012
at 05:00 PM

And are you able to supplement with D, or no?

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on May 20, 2012
at 04:57 PM

Great share! Why the topical antibiotic, though? Is that normally prescribed for rosacea?

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2 Answers

1
F15e0bae42dbf0b8cfc71e62902497b4

on May 22, 2012
at 05:09 AM

I've found the opposite with my rosacea. getting off of gluten was HUGE. the less sugar I eat the better it gets (Still a struggle for me)

E68bdbd83e45fd5be130e393ace9c9a9

(2063)

on May 22, 2012
at 01:34 PM

Gluten is a big factor for me too, but not the only factor, clearly. I've been strictly gluten free for 3 months.

0
C620145ee7593d8b0f06a885dc140c29

on May 22, 2012
at 02:33 AM

for erythema [not really rosacea, mind you] and flushing, hazel witch has some good properties.

I use thayers solution [mind you, not the cr4p with 20pc alcohol] and also some mother tincture or herbal tea. Give it a try for a month or two.

Also, definitely stay away from the sun.

Eventually, and I do not know if it applies to rosacea, you've got surgery for the flushing; it's called thoracic sympathectomy and the surgeon clamps or cuts [you choice] the right an left nerve controlling the flusing of the face; marvellous for erythomania --- but has no effect for flushing from drinking booze :]

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