From about the time I was in college until two years ago I would occasionally get rosacea outbreaks on my cheeks and forehead. Rosacea is a skin condition that manifests as redness. It is mostly just a cosmetic annoyance. A flare-up can make you look like you are blushing. In 2008, I decided to see a skin doctor to treat the problem.
The dermatologist hammered me with antibiotics and creams. And they worked. My skin improved by 90%. I was satisfied, but she wasn’t, so she upped my antibiotics dosage even more. I went back to see her every few months. Occasionally I would get a minor flare-up, but the trend was improving.
Me and my rosacea from July 2000.
Then I started to suspect that the medicine was making me sick when, on one of those rare occasions, I had a stout at a local brewpub. The dermatologist assured me that was impossible. I was also spending a lot of money on the pills and creams. I started to lose faith that the treatment prescribed by the dermatologist was sustainable.
It was about this time that I started running health experiments with intermittent fasting and cold weather exposure. In the spirit of self-experimentation, I decided I would figure out the minimum dose among all the medicines that could get me the most results with my rosacea. I quickly discovered that the $7 cream was the only thing needed and it was only necessary maybe 2-3 times a month. Everything else was wasted money.
Photo by Charles Kaiser
When I cut bread and alcohol out of my diet, I didn’t need any medication. Not even the cream. Never once did the dermatologist ever bring up the idea that changing my diet could cure my rosacea. Now I know that I could have saved a few hundred dollars by running my tests.
I’m not a doctor, but I know enough now to recognize that the body is trying to tell us something when our skin gets inflamed. Be it rosacea, acne, a rash, or a sunburn. The body is signaling that something is wrong. Discovering if there is an external or internal toxin should be the first avenue of investigation. I am fortunate that I stumbled onto the solution and was able to stop masking the symptoms with pills and creams.
Me without rosacea (or medications) in November 2009. Bread was 99% eliminated from my diet by then.
Now I am not going to give medical advice, as your skin condition might be far worse than what I had. However, I will say that a 30-day test can tell you a lot. Eliminate common skin allergens from your diet for a month and see what happens. For me it was bread. For others, it might be sugar, dairy, or soy.
There are quite a few posts on this site that discuss how certain foods can make us fat or irritate our gut. The skin is another indicator that we should be paying attention to. When I eliminated the bread, not only did I get leaner, but my skin cleared up. A sure sign that my body sees bread as a toxin. Eliminating bread from my diet was a free treatment that required no doctor visits.