Rosacea and Gluten

I couldn’t find any scientific publication on the topic of gluten sensitivity and rosacea, but if you do a search online, then you’ll find plenty of information on the topic (mostly in forums and message boards).

As it turns out, many people with rosacea wonder if their rosacea symptoms are caused by a gluten sensitivity. Some have been successful in reducing their rosacea symptoms by following a gluten-free diet. As I and others have written before, there seems to be a digestive component to rosacea.

Gluten is a protein that’s abundant in certain grains, mostly wheat, barley and rye. The gluten itself is a protein made up of two protein parts, gliadin and glutenin. The gliadin part is responsible for the abnormal immune reaction that causes gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Between 0.5 and 1% of the world’s population suffers from gluten-sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is not the same as a gluten allergy. The gluten proteins of corn and rice lack the gliadin part and do therefore not cause any sensitivity.

The immune system’s overreaction to wheat’s gluten causes celiac disease, in which the lining of the small intestine becomes chronically inflamed. Symptoms of celiac disease include chronic diarrhea, cramps, bloating, fatigue and malabsorption of essential nutrients, which could result in secondary symptoms such as psychological and neurological problems.

The gluten sensitivity makes it difficult for the body to absorb vitamins, in particular vitamin D. This could explain the possible involvement of vitamin D in rosacea and autism that I described recently. Many children with autism have seen their symptoms improve after staring a gluten-free diet.

Whether a potential gluten sensitivity is involved in the development of rosacea symptoms, it is possible that the inflammation of the intestines contributes to an overall stronger inflammatory response in the facial skin of rosacea patients. While there are many rosacea trigger factors, pizza (loaded with gluten and histamine) is one food that probably should be limited in your diet if you have rosacea.

Additional Reading

36 thoughts on “Rosacea and Gluten

  1. There are another set of symptoms of celiac disease for some people, dermatitis herpetiformis. See celiac.com http://www.celiac.com/categories/Dermatitis-Herpetiformis:-Skin-Condition-Associated-with-Celiac-Disease/

    I also have a chemical sensitivity to shampoo from the smell (weakens my muscles and makes my nerves more sensitive) and a problem with rosacea on my nose. I have noticed that my nose feels oily and smooth after washing my hair.

    I am so excited to learn that Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Laureth Sulphate cause rosacea in some people with sensitive skin.

    But I am curious that I have the combination of over exposure to sun as a child, PTSD, celiac disease, and a chemical sensitivity to shampoo. Hard to figure if there is a single cause with this combination. But perhaps a correlation?

  2. I also have gluten sensitivity and rosacea. I was wondering if there was a connection between the two.

  3. I had a blush for a few years that I thought was extreme topical sensitivity. One weekend in 2008 I did a fasting cleanse and suddenly my skin was creamy and white with absolutely no redness. A year later I found an integrative physician, and a nutrionist who identified me as gluten intolerant (all tests for wheat allergy were negative). By this point I had almost no vitamin D in my tisses (normal range is 17-34, mine was 7)
    Its a struggle to stay off gluten. It requires a lot of planning, but it is worth it. Trust your instincts. Your body tells you many things, don’t ignore them.

  4. I suffered with rosacea for years. I stopped eating gluten about two months ago and the red bumps are gone! I never ever thought of the connection.

  5. It is still strange that their isn’t a scientific proof of the connection between gluten and rosacea.
    On the other hand, I think that their isn’t much profit forr the medical industry. Otherwise they would have done research on this topic.
    But anyhow, the most important thing is that we now know that their is a connection between gluten and rosacea. You helped a lot of people with your article, and that counts.

  6. I, too, have both rosacea and celiac and wonder about the connection. Rosacea seems to be linked to inflammation and my whole body was messed up from gluten- the protein in gluten made my whole body inflammed. Joints ached, back pain, canker sores, etc. My rosacea didn’t clear up right away…it took about 2-3 years after going gluten-free, but I have no other explanation. I was diagnosed with rosacea almost 15 years ago and went GF in 2007. I use metrogel but not daily anymore. My skin is very smooth although I still have some redness, but no bumps. I also still flush and blush a lot but that could be my Irish coloring (pale skin, blue eyes).

    Thanks for the blog post.

  7. For those who reduced or eliminated gluten from your diet, and saw a positive response to your Rosacea, how long (days/weeks/months) would you say it took to witness a noticeable difference?

  8. I’m starting to suspect that I have gluten sensitivity: after a mostly-strict GF diet for a few months, I indulged in breads and such over 2 separate weekends. A few days after these glutened weekends, the red postules resurfaced. Fun times! ;)

  9. I went 40 years with big red bumps and bad acne before I went on an elimination diet and figured out it was gluten. I can forget about restaurants now but who care? My skin looks a LOT better and I feel like a new person. Trust me, learn to avoid Gluten and your Rosacea will get better.

  10. Mike, I had rosacea for almost 20 years, I went gluten free and noticed a difference within a week or two. I would get stinging and extreme blushing and itchy bumps. Once I went GF the bumps, stinging and itchy went away. My face is still red, but less so now. Also, try Neem Oil. A little goes a long way but that has really improved my skin. Good luck!

  11. After two weeks no more rosacea, less fatigue, less cramps. Just feel much better!

  12. Isn’t it funny how this comes about? 1st I quit drinking (March), then I started sauna and epsom salt (detox, I needed it!)My g-free daughter came home soon after so out went most wheat. By June I started looking at my face wodering what was going on, the ‘flush’ was gone. July, my skin, it got better and better. I was sitting on my bed cross-legged and realized; I am healed. There are some really good posts and websites out there of really excited people who know that their diet is important. Bottom line? No processed food, nothing out of a can or jar!

  13. I’m doing an alkaline diet for about two years now, it has helped me very much. Since I am looking for gluten in foods and avoiding them, my symptoms are almost gone. Unbelievable!

    My doctor told me it was incurable, thanks doc!

  14. I tried a gluten free diet because it was recommended to help with uterine fibroids. I still can’t determine whether there was any benefit in that sense, but within two weeks my rosacea cleared up. I slacked off for awhile and the rosacea flared up again. I have since stayed off the gluten for about 4 months and am mostly clear of any kind of pimples or redness. I say mostly, because I do have ‘periodical’ small whiteheads, which I believe are related to hormonal action. I have recently cut chocolate out of my diet to see if it will get rid of this last bit of pimpling.

  15. did any of you have rosacea with broken capillaries on your face, and flushing/blushing? If you did have broken capillaries did they go away with the rosacea after going gluten free? thank you, i have been getting IPL done and it only makes the broken capillaries go away temporarily so far, I am wondering if I have a gluten intolerance and I think I am going to try a GF diet to see if this will help, but the broken veins on my face absolutley drive me nuts.

  16. I can directly link rosacea to gluten and soy. Removing those from diet got rid of the red stuff and loads of other symptoms.

    Gluten and soy are both inflammatory in my case and that has caused everything from arthritis to acne to hives.

  17. I am able to keep the redness and rosacea pimples away if I avoid alcoholic baverages, anything with sugar in it. That has been the most difficult for me because I love sweets. But if I don’t eat sugar except in whole fruits my rosacea does not appear.

  18. I learned about the rosacea in reverse order. First, I had this problem with my face I’d never had before. Because I didn’t have insurance I started experimenting with my diet. When I went grain free and then gluten free, my face got much better. I still dealt with redness but the bumps went away. So, then I get insurance and I told my doctor about it and he says I have rosacea. Very interesting the overwhelming connection between the two.

  19. When I went gluten free two years ago, the redness in my face (never actually diagnosed as rosacea) diminished significantly. I am now one week into eliminating dairy as well, and noticing even more improvement. I never before went BOTH gluten and dairy free, so this is whole new territory. Very pleased so far!

  20. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease three years ago and my experience seems to be the opposite of most people here. It is only since going gluten free that I have had rosacea symptoms. My thinking is that since my gut has been healing It now absorbs whatever triggers my rosacea whereas before it was too damaged.
    Has anyone else had similar experience?

  21. I’m allergic to a lot of hypoallergenic skin products. Anything that contains the irritant stearic acid will make me break out in blisters, a rosacea outbreak. Many manufacturers, even though they know that stearic acid is an irritant, use it in their products anyway. The Made From Earth Green Tea Cleanser does not. Not only that but it is also non-drying and leaves my skin feeling soft and looking smooth and clean. I have been very happy with it, and my skin issues have cleared up considerably since I began using it.

  22. Gluten doesn’t seem to bother me. Spicy foods (unfortunately!!) and alcohol are my biggest no-no’s!I use Aveeno’s sensitive skin care products and some of Burt’s bees for cleansing and moisturizing. I take Res-juventa for my rosacea and it is working very well so far. Typically I use Clinique and Estee Lauder foundation, but I am able to cut back on all that make-up now because my treatment is very successful for me! I’m amazed at how much my redness has reduced. I exercise daily and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. That in combination with my treatment I think does that the trick! Don’t forget sunscreen year round, especially now with all the sun of summer!

  23. I have had rosacea for about twenty-seven years. Thick and unattractive plaques that would persist and were very painful. I also have other medical problems including pollen allergies and debilitating migraines caused by chemical sensitivity to phenethylamine and tyramine in foods like chocolate. I used to be pre-med before I became and ecologist. I also have a degree in quantitative psychology. I’d always wondered about the relationship between gluten and rosacea but given my financial circumstances for most of my life, I really wasn’t able to cut gluten out of my diet (face it, pasta and bread are staples for the poor and you can only prepare rice so many ways that tastes good – LOL). Recently, there have been some reasonably priced gluten-free products – pasta made from corn for instance which is really the best pasta I’ve ever had believe it or not. And notice how I wrote “reasonably priced” but they’re still not as cheap as the non-gluten-free stuff but a lot cheaper than they used to be. I cut gluten completely out of my diet about six months ago. Since then, I have had almost no symptoms from my rosacea and number of migraines has declined precipitously. On a couple weekends I ate a couple bowls of pasta. Within 24-48 hours of consumption, the rosacea symptoms returned with a vengeance. Conclusion: gluten exacerbates symptoms of rosacea. And likly other inflammation-related problems too like migraines and allergies.

  24. I have had rosacea for 27 years also and have not heard of the gluten problem as I enjoy bread and butter a great deal. Tobacco exposure, alcohol, cheese,spicy foods and indoor or outdoor bright light are the main triggers for my outbreaks. I still have flareups but have not been able to identify the causes. Any help and advice would be welcomed.

    Thanks,

    jim Kurtz

  25. If this helps anyone, all of these factors irritate my Rosacea symptoms (with varying levels of severity):

    Fabric softener — the worst
    Any amount of direct sun exposure on my face and chest
    Lack of sufficient water consumption throughout the day
    Not exfoliating regularly/weekly (using mild soap and water with a soft towel)
    Air conditioning that’s too cold
    Extreme changes in outside temperature (e.g., going from a highly air conditioned building to hot weather ouside or coming into a warm house from being outside in the cold) and rapid changing of the seasons
    Spending a lot of time under flourescent lights
    I also had a skin allergy test and found I am allergic to Lanolin so I avoid skincare products that contain it
    Extremely humid weather. In dry weather climates my symptoms seem to disappear. Unfortunately I live in New York City so I don’t have much control over this one.

    After years of painful trial and error, I’ve managed to kep my symptoms under control after recognizing what the main culprits are. I handle extreme temperature changes by sitting next to an open window when coming into a warm interior from being out in the cold. I do this until my body temerature regulates itself, as the window provides a less drastic change. A cool cloth on the face can also help.

  26. I went gluten free almost 5 months ago and within a month I DEVELOPED rosacea. I am also in my 40’s so part of it is likely peri-menopausal symptoms. Could the rosacea developing after the gluten free diet be a cleansing symptom or is it part of the whole malabsorption syndrome that gluten causes?

  27. I also seem to have developed rosacea about 6 months after going Gluten free. Chocolate seems to bother me a lot as well as dairy…now it seems tomatoes and possibly eggs are a problem too in addition to hot conditions and the sun – what gives?

  28. I had acne as a teenager, but was clear for about 10 years until I tried to switch to a paleo diet and developed rosacea. All I can think of is that the foods I was eating were much higher in histamines than before, but I’m baffled too. Chocolate is a definite trigger for me.

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