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Thread: Rosacea AFTER Going Vegan

  1. #1
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    Default Rosacea AFTER Going Vegan

    I thought I would post about this since I haven't had any luck finding anyone else in my situation, in fact, most searches containing "rosacea" and "vegan" are of success stories.

    My story:

    I am a 39 y/o female, fair & oily skinned, no family history of rosacea, no prior skin issues.

    April 2015 I decided to adopt the vegan lifestyle. Two weeks after the change in diet my face became red, rough, bumpy, with very dry patches (flaking & peeling), and what I would have described as tiny "whiteheads" began to appear on my cheeks. I thought it was acne due to my new eating habits.

    August 2015 I see a dermatologist who diagnoses me with rosacea, although, she didn't give me a type. I assume I am type-2 from what I've read. I was prescribed Metrocream & Acticlate. The tiny "whiteheads" have disappeared, but I've shown no other signs of improvement.

    Some days my face looks and feels as if sunburned. I have to keep the A/C low and a fan blowing on my face to be comfortable while the rest of my body shivers. My face usually looks its best first thing in the morning, for whatever reason, which also seems to be contrary to others' experiences I've read. It's not itchy at all, but it is on the sensitive side especially around the apples of my cheeks.

    As for "triggers", they've either always been present in my life or never have. I'm a Florida native so sunshine, heat, and humidity are normal daily life. I have not introduced any new foods into my diet, only eliminated animal products. My skincare routine has been Dove soap for decades, that's it, no makeup. I've suffered from depression and anxiety basically my entire life, officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder as a teenager, so stress is normal daily life for me as well. (Side note: No changes in medications either.)

    Literally the only change in my life was no longer eating animal products.

    Researching rosacea has been frustrating. While I believe the dermatologist's diagnosis and I certainly seem to fit the symptoms nothing else has made any sense. It's lead me to believe my rosacea is a manifestation of something else.

    I've only discovered two items of research that may pertain to my case. One is that the naturally occurring hormones in milk have been linked to oil production -- my face went from historically very oily to parched when I removed dairy from my diet. Two is what I've read about gut health and the skin. While I do not meet the symptoms of IBS or SIBO, I have had other long term digestion issues that can be symptomatic of excessive bad bacteria.

    I haven't had the opportunity yet to try probiotics, but they are #1 on my list currently. I'm at a loss of what else to try.

    It seems to me the removal of dairy was the culprit, though I have not experimented with reintroducing it into my diet. I find that except for my skin (ironically) veganism agrees with me. It's almost a cruel joke. I'd read so many reports of substantially improved skin from vegans only to have rosacea happen.

    Please let me know if anyone has experienced or knows of other seemingly unique cases such as mine. I'm perpetually boggled that leading a healthier lifestyle has caused this skin affliction.

  2. #2
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    Hi Darcelle,

    did you try going back to your past eating habits?

    when you are vegan i assume you eat a lot of fresh fruits/vegetables/salads. Could it be that you can catch some gut infection from that (if not very thoroughly washed) ? As an example, i never ate salad until my twenties (when i got rosacea), so sometimes i wonder if that could be the case.

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    No, I haven't, because they were quite bad. I had gained about 50 pounds over the past 5 years from it, which was one of the reasons I made the switch. Lots of cheese, creams, generally fattening and unhealthy foods like fettuccine alfredo. Since being vegan I've lost 20 pounds of it!

    I actually hate salads and never eat them. I mostly get my fruit frozen because it's cheaper and easier to keep and most of my vegetables are cooked. I think I may have had raw cauliflower or cucumber though so I will see if I can find any link to insufficiently washed produced. (I did rinse mine before consuming.)

  4. #4
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    Hi Darcelle, Welcome to the forum. Have you been checked out by a GP since the onset of your rosacea? Bloodwork? I'm wondering about any indicators of an hormonal imbalance, inflammation, Vitamin D levels or other nutritional deficiencies. You may have been getting certain things from your previous diet that have gone lacking in your vegan diet.

    I think that many people find that their rosacea is better in the morning. Mine is. That's when it's calm and the redness is its lightest. Once I begin to eat and move about for the day - I go to baseline redness or worse.

    Are you eating gluten/wheat as part of your diet? Have you increased that to compensate for the lack of meat? Did you up your protein to compensate for the loss of protein in removing dairy and meat? Just looking for any radical swings in nutrient intake.

    A probiotic is an important tool in the toolkit. Invest in a good one. You might also want to experiment with eliminating wheat/gluten as that has helped many people with rosacea. It will help lower inflammation and can assist with gut issues. I would also up your water daily intake. It's amazing what that can do for your system and your skin, so don't dismiss it.

    I don't think your rosacea sounds unusual; rather quite normal in how it presented itself. A vegan diet can be healthy, but it can also lack some nutrients that need to be compensated for once you leave the old diet. So in essence, it becomes unhealthy until you fix those issues. You might search in the search bar to find some of the older threads of people who've had the same experience after going vegan/vegetarian. I can't remember now offhand what the particular nutrient(s) they were missing out on.

    Having to rely on fans and a/c is such a drag. I know from experience. Do you use a moisturizer? It's important to keep your skin hydrated. It will help with the sensitivity/burning and flushing. I never let my skin be bare for any length of time other than in the shower. A moisturizer that I've been using and having success with (recovering severe type 1 rosacean here) is Neosporin Eczema Essentials Moisturizing Cream The 6 oz tube, NOT the one with cortizone in it). It's not an elegant makeupy moisturizer to wear out and about. Rather it's a skin barrier repairing cream for eczema folks. Since rosaceans also have skin barrier issues, many eczema products have applications for us. I Ike to use a generous amount at night with an extra layer over the flush-prone part of my cheeks. I use to flush every single night beginning when I laid down, middle of the night and when I woke up. Now I flush on one side just a smidge when I wake up and am working on continuing to heal my skin so all flushing is gone. It helps rehydrate the skin essentially because it's sealing in moisture. It's like it's a sealant - like a second layer of skin protecting the barrier while the skin repairs itself underneath. I usually dampen my face with water before I smooth it on - to allow it to capture that extra moisture.

    You might also look into Betaine HCL. There is lots on the forum about it. You do a test with the capsules first.

    Hope some of this novella helps. The main thing is to do all you can to quiet the inflammation and bacteria in your system. And protect and pamper your skin on the outside. Treat your rosacea as you would a rash - soothe it - versus how you would treat acne (so no harsh products).

    I hope your doctor can help you figure out if there's anything going on gutwise, hormonally or nutritionally. You'll find tons o' info and support here on the forum. Read old threads and new. There's much to learn as you seek out what will work for you.


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    I'm unable to seek any additional medical treatment since I'm uninsured. It cost $100 self-pay for the dermatologist consultation. While I'm glad I did for the official diagnosis (I went in thinking it was acne) it was a strain on the budget I'm still recovering from along with having to pay for the medications.

    I tried to eliminate gluten, but it proved to be too difficult. I'm not sure about my protein intake. I do eat a lot of nuts, beans, lentils, etc. I quit drinking soda cold turkey and only drink water and tea now.

    As for skincare, I do use a moisturizer after applying my Metrocream twice a day. Currently it's the Paula's Choice Hydralight. I will look for the Neosporin one you suggested though, I've used their wound care products for years.

    It's comforting to hear I'm not as unique as I thought. Various Google searches always lead me to information I don't feel applies to me or testimonials that are nothing like my experience.

  6. #6
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    You're still unique in all the right ways. It's hard to make sense of this condition. While there are lots of similarities, everyone is different when it comes to what works for them and what doesn't. It takes some trial and error and patience to figure out what works. Which is tough when your face is burning off. But you will find your way.

    If you opt for the Neosporin, you might use the Hydralight for daytime and the Neosporin once you're home and for overnight.

    Do you have a lot of bumps at the moment? If so, you might look around at some of the threads on diluted tea tree oil. You have to be careful so as not to irritate your skin, though. But if the metrocream doesn't help, it might be worth a try. Tea tree oil is cheap and available at a drugstore/health store. You combine it with a soothing oil like sweet almond or jojoba or Cerave PM lotion. I think you'll find upping your water intake will help, too.

    I found that fans made me dependent on them. It became hard to turn away from their direction. And they were just causing my skin to be more sensitive and dry (and thus stingy and more reactive) due to the constant flow of air. So you might see if you can function without them.

    Also stress is a big trigger. Which is just cruel since this condition gives us stress! You say you're already on meds to help you with that. My anxiety came on quickly with the rosacea. Once I went on an antidepressant, my burning started to improve and my skin became calmer. And I became calmer. it was amazing to realize that when my anxiety was bad, I was fanning myself and sitting on the edge of my bed with a red, inflamed face. But when the nerves quieted, so did the nerve endings in my skin. Exercise has also helped me. That's a challenge with flushing, but with some modifications, it does help.

    I hope things get better for you soon. Lots of people are here to help!

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    Hi Darcelle,

    Dairy and cereals like oats are considered to be moistening to the body from an Ayurvedic standpoint so there may be something to the avoidance of dairy leading to skin dryness. However, skin dryness is common with the compromised skin barrier that people with rosacea have. Do you get enough nut butters and oils from things like avocados in your diet that help with dryness?

    The vegans I know tend to eat a lot of wheat and tons of soy as their protein replacement, which is IMO not as healthy for you as eating good quality animal products. Are you eating more soy than previously, say in vegan dairy replacement products such as soy cheese and soy milk? Soy, next to dairy, is often thought to be one of the biggest culprits in acne and skin problems and is a common allergen.

    I second the recommendation to take a good quality probiotic. According to my naturopath, they are best taken in the evening before going to bed. You are better off getting one that does not have the inulin or prebiotic additives. If you have an overgrowth of one of the bad guys you don't want to be feeding them with the added prebiotic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hg24 View Post
    Do you have a lot of bumps at the moment?
    Thankfully no, although, they weren't as bad as the pictures of others' I've seen when I had them. They were what I'd describe as "pin prick whiteheads". Very tiny, but still not something you want on your face! Whether it's been the Metrocream or Acticlate that's gotten rid of them, I don't know.


    Quote Originally Posted by lwemm View Post
    Do you get enough nut butters and oils from things like avocados in your diet that help with dryness?

    The vegans I know tend to eat a lot of wheat and tons of soy as their protein replacement, which is IMO not as healthy for you as eating good quality animal products. Are you eating more soy than previously, say in vegan dairy replacement products such as soy cheese and soy milk? Soy, next to dairy, is often thought to be one of the biggest culprits in acne and skin problems and is a common allergen.
    It's difficult to quantify my intake because I don't keep track. I should also clarify: I say "vegan" because it's simpler, but truthfully it's more a "whole foods, plant based" diet. I try to avoid faux dairy, processed and refined foods as much as possible. Despite being a long time lover of Japanese food I've never been a fan of tofu either.

    I still struggle with my love of bread products, but I've been trying to curb that. I wouldn't say I eat any more wheat now than before though.

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    I recently read eliminating wheat from your diet can also have adverse effects on gut health. A study found that a month on a gluten-free diet may hurt gut flora and immune function potentially setting up an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the intestines.

    I did put forth an effort to be gluten-free for at least the first two weeks of becoming vegan. I bought into the hype and only abandoned the pursuit because it was too difficult to maintain. Combined with the elimination of dairy, gut health is certainly my prime suspect now for rosacea.

  10. #10
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    Hi Darcelle, you are not alone on this one. I experienced the same thing as you. After years of an unhealthy diet I made a complete change to my diet and went vegan too. I ended up including meat and dairy back in but no change in my skin. I've never had any skin issues until that point. Not long after (weeks) on the vegan diet I began to develop a patch of red inflamed flaky bumps on my right cheek. I thought it would go away but it just kept spreading. I decided to see a derm a year later after several GPs couldn't figure out what it was. She then diagnosed me with rosacea and gave me meds and cream which I didn't use. 3 years later it has spread all over my face. I'm 21 years old now and Ive been seeing a naturopath who has helped a lot. The bumps have gone, the redness and what looks like clots underneath the skin remain but not as inflamed as they were. I've come up with a few theories as to why the diet triggered rosacea.

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