About Face: Natural help for rosacea

An estimated 5% of North American adults suffer from rosacea (some times called “adult acne”), a chronic skin disorder that usually affects the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin with blotchy, red patches. Though the exact cause is yet unknown, the redness and flushing is the result of dilated blood vessels close to the skin’s surface. As the condition progresses, the redness and inflammation may become permanent and sometimes the eyes are affected with itching and burning. Rosacea flare-ups may result from stress, alcohol or caffeine, exercise, hormonal changes and certain medications.

While no cure exists for this condition, there are certain vitamins, herbs and nutrients that have been shown to help. Here are a few of them:


Many rosacea sufferers have low stomach acid levels, and supplementation with betaine HCl (hydrochloric acid) helped the condition in one preliminary trial. Similarly, in another study, some people with rosacea were found to have a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes and were helped by supplementation. Sufficient stomach acid and proper digestion are needed to help prevent bacteria and parasite infection, and to ensure the proper absorption of vital nutrients. Both bacterial infection and nutrient imbalances have been suggested as possible causes.


Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, and skin cells harden without sufficient amounts of this nutrient, decreasing the skin’s ability to protect itself against both environmental and internal factors. The body needs sufficient vitamin A for the growth and repair of epithelial tissues, which provide barriers to infection. Vitamin A capsules and creams have been found to be effective in cases of rosacea.


Both flax seed oil and evening primrose oil provide EFAs that can decrease inflammation, support healthy skin cells and produce prostaglandins, which stimulate the contraction of blood vessels. All of these actions are beneficial in the treatment of rosacea. EFAs are also known to be beneficial in other skin conditions, including acne, eczema and scleroderma.


Known as a “purifying” herb, burdock has a long history of use in helping to rid the blood and tissues of toxins. It has mild anti-inflammatory properties and has a reputation for treating skin eruptions such as boils and acne. It is also been used as a digestive tonic. Interestingly, burdock is rich in essential fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin B-2—all known to be helpful for rosacea.

Sources: The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs, Reader’s Digest:1999; Prescription for Nutritional Healing by J & P Balch, Avery:1997; Healthwell.com