Is Rosacea Stopping Your From Putting Your Best Face Forward?

Rosacea is a chronic skin inflammation that can make you run for cover at a time when spending time outside with friends is all you want to do. Even indoors, it’s hard to ignore your red, bumpy face when you’re staring at your own reflection on every video call!

Are you tired of rosacea running your life? Let’s discuss what causes rosacea, who is most at risk, and how you can avoid the main triggers.

What Does Rosacea Look Like?

There are four main rosacea subtypes, and each affects a different part of the face with different tell-tale symptoms. You might find your symptoms switch from one subtype to another, or experience more than one at a time.

To further complicate matters, some subtypes look a lot like acne, although the best way to treat this skin condition is almost the opposite of conventional acne treatments.

The 4 Types of Rosacea:

Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR)

This type of rosacea shows up as redness in the centre of your face. You may see broken blood vessels, experience a stinging sensation, and your skin may be swollen and sensitive.

Papulopustular rosacea

With a look similar to a typical acne breakout, Papulopustular rosacea gives you pus-filled bumps and a bonus of red, oily skin with visible broken blood vessels. Women in their late 40’s and 50’s are the most often affected by this type.

Rhinophyma rosacea

Often wrongly associated with excessive alcohol consumption, Rhinophyma rosacea primarily affects the nose. It causes the skin on your nose to become thickened and bumpy, with visible pores and broken blood vessels. This subtype usually occurs alongside at least one other subtype and affects more men than women.

Ocular rosacea

Ocular rosacea affects the eyes of up to 60% of rosacea sufferers, often going undiagnosed as it mimics seasonal allergy symptoms (although the symptoms are experienced year-round). It irritates the eyes, making them bloodshot and watery, often accompanied by burning or stinging. If you suspect you may be suffering from ocular rosacea, it is important to visit your health practitioner to check it out, as this type can cause corneal damage if left to run rampant.

What Causes Rosacea?

Although there is no single cause of rosacea, genetics and environmental factors play a strong role among other factors.

The Role of Genetics in Rosacea

Women are more likely to get rosacea in general, while men might be less likely to have it, but the risk of rosacea symptoms being severe is higher.

Studies show that you may be four times more likely to have rosacea if it runs in your family, with genetics being a factor most often in middle-aged women of Celtic or Scandinavian ancestry, in particular if they have a personal history with acne.

Recent genetic research has identified a number of genes that affect the immune system, inflammation, protein metabolism and how stress affects the cells. However it is important to remember that your genes only indicate what you are predisposed to, and do not indicate how that predisposition will play out. Environmental factors such as pollution, stress and lifestyle all play a role in gene expression.

Immune System

Research has identified that those with rosacea are more likely to have an overactive immune system. The body’s immune system is designed to protect you from threats, but if it becomes overactive, your body will respond to its own tissues as if it were a foreign invader.
Inflammation is the body’s way of ‘smoking out’ the invaders with heat. But when inflammation gets out of hand internally, it may show up externally on your face.

The Microbiome & Rosacea

Good & Bad Bacteria

The number of microbes in our bodies outnumber our own cells 10 to 1. Most of the time the various “good” and “bad“ strains play well together, the good bacteria balancing out the bad, and forming symbiotic microbial ecosystems. But when things get out of balance, the bad bacteria can take over.

You may have heard about the microbiome in reference to the communities of bacteria in our intestinal tract, but we have a whole other microbial community on our skin as well. It is the largest organ after all, and there’s room for a thriving skin microbiome.

H. Pylori

Studies also show that the parasitic bacteria H pylori, known to cause stomach ulcers, is seen much more frequently in those with rosacea.

Demodex Skin Mites

A microscopic skin mite called demodex has also been implicated in rosacea. We all host these mites, which like to hang out on our facial skin and in our eyelashes and eyebrows. If you’ve ever wondered why your eye makeup naturally fades, these mites are the reason!

Studies show that those with rosacea have large numbers of these mites on their skin, but they are not actually to blame. The real culprits are the bacteria they carry (bacillus oleronius).

Top 5 Rosacea Triggers and How To Avoid Them

You may find that you remain free of rosacea symptoms for long periods of time, only to have them flare up suddenly. Something is triggering the reaction – but what?

Each person’s rosacea triggers are different, but let’s take a closer look at the most common ones.

1 – Foods and Beverages

Fried and spicy foods, drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine, hot soups and drinks, and foods that contain cinnamaldehyde (like cinnamon, citrus fruit, chocolate and tomatoes) are all high on the list of foods to avoid if you have rosacea.

Pass on the hot sauce, and instead sprinkle some fresh herbs or lemon juice on your meal to punch up the flavour. Try iced decaf versions of your favourite teas and coffees – lavender and mint make calming and delicious iced teas for example!

2 – Sun and Weather Conditions

Do you get rosacea flare-ups in the summer? Basking in the sun may be relaxing, but the sun is a known rosacea trigger.

Avoid direct sunlight on your face during the hottest parts of the afternoon, and when you do venture out into the sunshine, wear a broad-brimmed hat for extra protection.

Sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher is a great way to protect your face from strong summer rays. But did you know that the wrong sunscreen can make your rosacea worse? Opt for water-based, fragrance-free sunscreens that won’t irritate your sensitive skin.

The Environmental Working Group’s 2020 Guide to Sunscreens is a great resource to find a safe, effective sunscreen, and other facial products that contain SPF.

Heat & Extreme Weather
Heat is an important trigger, but it’s really about avoiding all extreme weather conditions. Very cold or windy weather can also aggravate rosacea. Reduce the impact by wearing light-coloured, breathable clothing in hot summer months. Don’t forget a cardigan for those sudden temperature drops when you enter arctic a/c conditions!

3 – Exercise

If you’ve ever had a rosacea flare-up after an intense cardio workout, you’re not alone. If you’re a runner, it’s important to keep your runs to the early mornings or evenings when the weather is cooler. Or change up your routine and try slower, more gentle exercise such as walking or yoga. Skip the Hot Yoga if you have rosacea as heat is an aggravating factor.

4 – Stress

How was your day going the last time you had a flare-up? How about the last five times? Stress is the most common rosacea trigger and you may find that flare-ups are closely linked to those tough days.

Stress-Busting Supplements
Taking supplements such as Vitamin B Complex and Magnesium can soothe your nervous system and help your body to handle stress a little better.

If you know a stressful period is coming up (like a looming project deadline), take extra self-care measures to side-step them and avoid flare-ups. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time every night, and avoiding screens an hour before bed. Stay hydrated and make time daily for activities that bring you joy.

5 – Environmental Toxins & Chemicals

Rosacea is all about inflammation, both inside and out. Exposure to toxins and environmental chemicals increases inflammatory markers in the body, potentially leading to chronic inflammation concerns, such as rosacea.

Major sources of environmental toxins include pesticides in produce, preservatives and other chemicals in personal care products (like makeup, nail polish and perfume) as well as those in household cleaning products.

Read the Ingredients
Look at the ingredient lists – how many of your products contain chemical names so long that even a spelling bee champ would be stumped? Check out the Environmental Working Group’s extensive list of Consumer Guides to find chemical-free home and body care products that are good for you, and the environment.

Keeping Track of Your Rosacea Triggers Can Help Manage Symptoms

Confirm your personal rosacea triggers by tracking what’s going on when you experience flare-ups. Do flare-ups occur when you eat certain foods? Experience certain stressors? A combination? A Rosacea Diary can reveal your trigger patterns, and help you take action to avoid them.

Rosacea and Self-Esteem

As unpleasant as a red face may be, the psychological impact of rosacea is harder still. It’s a condition that you literally carry on your face. Many rosacea sufferers fear that people may suspect an alcohol problem or poor hygiene, even though these are not the cause.

The results of a National Rosacea Society survey demonstrates how profoundly rosacea impacts quality of life. 90 percent of rosacea patients reported low self-esteem, while 52 percent avoided face-to-face contact out of embarrassment. Another survey showed that an astonishing 51 percent of patients with severe rosacea symptoms had missed days at work because of their condition.

What Can You Do To Reduce Rosacea Symptoms?

2 Supplements Can Help Reduce Rosacea Symptoms
What nutrients can you take to reduce your rosacea flare-ups?

1 – Zinc
Research shows that taking a zinc supplement regularly can reduce rosacea symptoms by up to 75%, likely by providing immune system support.

2 – Probiotics
Probiotic supplementation also shows great promise, by rebalancing our microbiome so that potentially damaging bacterial strains are kept in check by the good microbes.

Facial Skincare For Rosacea

Proper facial care is vital. Studies indicate that washing your face morning and evening with an alcohol-free cleanser and using an oil-free moisturizer will improve your facial appearance. However you need to monitor your skin’s needs and respond accordingly. If your skin is dry and irritated, washing it less often can help. If your skin is oily, less moisturizing may be useful.

Are you ready to get to the root of your rosacea? We can help identify your triggers with Food Sensitivity Testing, check the status of your immune system, test your toxin levels and see what’s going on with your microbiome.

Get in touch and let’s get to work on creating a personalized treatment plan with key nutrients that will have you putting your best face forward.


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The Heart Disease Gender Gap

What does someone with heart disease look like? A stressed out CEO? A smoker over 50? Whatever image came to your mind, chances are it was of a male. We think of heart disease as a male problem, but did you know that more women die of heart disease than men? It’s now the leading cause of female deaths worldwide. Yet up until recently, two-thirds of all heart health research has focussed exclusively on men. What’s wrong with this picture?

If you’re a woman at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) there is good news – researchers are now stepping up to close the gender gap and prioritize female-based cardiac research. Let’s see what the latest research is saying about female-specific heart disease factors and how you can reduce your risk.

What the Gender Gap Means for Women’s Heart Health

Women’s Bodies Are Different

We may think of women’s ‘hearts’ as different than men when it comes to relationships, but what about literally? It turns out that women’s hearts and arteries tend to be physically smaller than men’s. Plaque build-up in our arteries is a key factor in all heart disease, and smaller arteries mean they can get clogged faster in women.

Different Plaque Deposits

It’s not just anatomical differences – the way that arterial plaques and injuries show up in women can be very different from men, delaying a heart disease diagnosis, or even misdiagnosing it. This may be why more women die from heart attacks than men, and why women are more likely to have second heart attacks.

Dismissive Diagnosis

Heart attack symptoms often look different in women. For example, the sharp chest pains of angina precede a heart attack in everyone, but women may have additional symptoms such as extreme fatigue, trouble breathing, and pain across the stomach and upper back. Not recognizing these red flags can also lead to a dangerously delayed or incorrect diagnosis.

The research tells a troubling story. When female patients report stress alongside recognized heart disease symptoms, they are significantly more likely than men to be given an anxiety diagnosis. Even when the same heart-related symptoms were reported.

Less Risk Factor Screening

But it doesn’t end there. After receiving a heart disease diagnosis, women are not screened as often as men for depression. Research shows that depression is a key heart disease risk factor, and strikes almost twice as many female heart disease sufferers than men. This crucial gap can increase women’s risk for subsequent fatal heart attacks, and slow down recovery.

Different Hearts, Different Diseases

The term ‘heart disease’ or ‘cardiovascular disease’ goes way beyond heart attacks, and includes a host of different issues affecting the heart, blood vessels and arteries. Not surprisingly, some heart conditions affect more women than men. For example, 90% of all
Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) patients are women, and it accounts for 25% of all heart attacks in women under the age of 60.

What happens when your health care practitioner is only looking for the heart diseases that mainly affect men? You guessed it – potential late or incorrect diagnosis for female patients.

What Special Risks Factor Do Women Have?

Many heart disease risk factors are the same for men and women – it’s the strength of the risk that matters.

Obesity & Smoking

Of the many shared factors, obesity and smoking are the ones that most often impact women more than men. In one study, obesity increased the risk of heart disease by 64% in women, compared to 46% in men. In another study, female smokers had a 25% higher risk of heart disease when compared with men.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Women receiving radiation for breast cancer are particularly vulnerable, with studies showing higher rates of fatal heart disease.


Chronic inflammation is a factor too. Recent research shows that women who have inflammation-related health conditions are at a higher risk of heart disease.

Hormones, in Particular Estrogen

Hormones also come into play. We think of estrogen as the quintessential ‘female’ hormone that affects our periods, pregnancy, and menopause. But did you know that there is a key link between estrogen and female heart disease risk?


In pregnancy there are big changes in heart rate and blood pressure, which can increase heart attack risk. Diabetes is also a key risk factor, and if Gestational Diabetes appears during pregnancy, the heart attack risk is increased further.


Research shows that heart disease risk for women increases significantly after menopause. It is thought that higher estrogen levels pre-menopause provide a protective heart effect. Studies show that cholesterol levels tend to increase after menopause. Remember those small female arteries that can clog faster than men’s? More cholesterol means more heart disease risk.


Many women undergo Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy during or after menopause to mitigate risks and reduce symptoms, however research shows that for some women, these changing hormone levels can increase heart disease risk. This underlines the importance of working with a professional who is able to properly follow you and test for risk factors.

How You can Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk

In addition to quitting smoking and reducing stress, weight management is the most effective way for women to reduce heart disease risk. Excess weight is hard on the heart, and is a stronger heart disease risk factor for women than men. Let’s look at a few easy ways to get on the path to heart health:

Get Moving

Current medical guidelines suggest that women should engage in a minimum of 2.5 to 3 hours per week of vigorous physical exercise. If that sounds like a lot, try breaking it up into exercise bites of 10 – 15 minutes each. Take a walk during work breaks, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or have a personal dance party!

Eat More Plants

You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan to welcome more plant foods into your life. The key is to make it enjoyable by choosing fruits and veggies that you like, and get lots of variety. Think of veggies as the main course instead of the side dish – aim to have at least 60% of your lunch and dinner plates covered with veggies. Summer is a great time to get gorgeous local produce. See what’s in season and don’t be afraid to try something new!

Eat Good Fats

When your body craves fat, it’s not asking for more chips. It really wants ‘good fats’ like those found in salmon, eggs and walnuts. But if you don’t have these foods often, they’re not on your body’s radar. Try adding these foods to your diet, and see if you notice a change in your fat cravings. Once your body gets to know these nutrient-dense foods it will request them more often!

Nutrients to Support Good Heart Health

Essential Fatty Acids

These ‘good fats’ are called Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), and have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. This supplement is especially important for women, as EFAs also balance hormones.

Since estrogen levels are a key factor in women’s heart health, EFA supplementation can play double duty! Ever wonder what’s so ‘essential’ about them? Our bodies can’t make them on our own, so we need to eat EFA-rich foods, or supplement with high-quality oils.


Studies show that low selenium levels are strongly linked to heart disease risk. Selenium is one of the most effective antioxidant supplements, protecting your heart, blood vessels and arteries from damaging free radicals. Brazil nuts are by far the best food source of selenium, with a handful providing a thousand percent of the recommended daily minimum!

It’s time to prioritize your heart health.

As a naturopathic health care practitioner, I treat the patient, not the disease. Get in touch and let’s discuss your health history and risk factors, run some targeted labs for a clear picture of what’s happening inside your body and design a personalized treatment plan. Women lead with the heart, make sure yours stays healthy.

Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre:

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Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada:

World Health Organization: