The exact cause of rosacea is unknown. There are multiple theories and ongoing debate whether rosacea triggers actually cause rosacea. However, research has proven that microscopic skin mites, the environment, medical conditions, stress, medications or treatments, diet, strenuous exercise, obesity, free radical damage, aging, inflammation and an overactive immune system can all be involved in the development of this skin condition.
Microscopic Skin Mites
Rosacea sufferers have higher than normal levels of a microscopic skin mite (demodex folliculorum) that erodes the skin, causes inflammation and leads to production of antigenic proteins that likely cause rosacea bumps and pimples.
Sun Exposure and Environmental Factors
Sun overexposure, repeated sunburns and extreme heat cause capillaries to dilate and break down the building blocks of the skin. Going in and out of hot and cold environments causes these small blood vessels to dilate and contract excessively. Over time, they become permanently dilated, which leads to swelling, inflammation and possible papules.
Gastrointestinal tract disorders (dyspepsia, gastritis and helicobacter pylori infection), hormonal disorders (pregnancy, menstrual cycle, PCOS, menopause), liver disease and metabolic acidosis disorder can cause swelling, inflammation, flushing, redness and/or blotchy symptoms.
Stress and Stress Related Conditions
The acidity of stress hormones causes flushing and blushing, while the increase in oil production hormones provides fuel for the skin mite to flourish. Embarrassment over having these rosacea symptoms leads to stress, creating a vicious cycle. Over time, this dampens the immune system and increases inflammation, which worsens symptoms. Stress can also lead to behaviors that beget more symptoms such as drinking, poor eating habits, inadequate rest, etc.
Diet plays a big role in rosacea. Certain foods and beverages can irritate and dilate the capillaries—which cause flushing associated with rosacea. This includes spicy foods, alcoholic beverages, hot beverages and soup, caffeine, histamine and histamine-producing foods, acid-forming foods, food with high glycemic index and trans fats. Mineral and vitamin deficiency is also believed to play a role in the development of rosacea. In particular, this condition appears to be associated with deficiencies of Vitamin A, B Vitamins (particularly B2 and B12), Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, Selenium and Zinc.
Inflammation and Overactive Immune System
Studies show that patients have elevated levels of inflammatory proteins and neurons which create abnormal peptides that cause rosacea symptoms. This is likely tied to inflammatory gastrointestinal issues.