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Will Black Pepper Make Rosacea Worse?

Some people find that eating food with pepper or other spices can make rosacea worse. Could extra veggies and beans help calm it?

Do you love adding flavor to your food with spices? Which ones are your favorites–hot peppers, turmeric, ginger or black pepper? We have written frequently about the health benefits of spices. One reader reminded us, though, that some spices can make rosacea worse.

Does Pepper Make Rosacea Worse?

Q. You have written about the benefits of black pepper but neglected a caveat: people plagued with rosacea like me have found relief by avoiding all peppers, including black.

A. Rosacea is a skin condition that leads to redness, flushing and eventually bumps on the face. There are a number of triggers that may make rosacea worse including alcohol, dairy products, caffeine and sugar substitutes. While triggers vary from one person to another, some people find that spices like red or black pepper can also spark a flare-up. You are smart to recognize and avoid your own rosacea triggers.

Does Bacterial Overgrowth Make Rosacea Worse?

One study found that people with rosacea frequently had small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (Parodi et al, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, July 2008). Treating the bacterial imbalance resulted in substantial improvement of skin symptoms.

If small intestinal bacterial overgrowth is a factor in your rosacea, Dr. Robynne Chutkan suggests eating leafy green veggies, legumes and other high-fiber foods and avoiding sugar and highly processed carbs. That can help rebalance the bacteria in the intestine naturally.

Learn More:

We have written about finding your own foods that make rosacea worse in this article that includes home remedies that some people have found helpful.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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