Rosacea: Dr. Obvious Strikes Again

Have you ever been shocked by something that shouldn’t have surprised you at all? Has your world ever been rocked by the most mundane, most non-newsworthy of details?


Last month, I– the Queen of Slow Learning– came to not one, but two, such ‘startling’ realizations:

1. I have rosacea!

2. This is not a new thing!

A few days after my birthday

Indeed, when I started scanning through old photos of myself, it finally dawned on me that my cheeks have sported a signature pink flush for the past 8-9 months at the very least. I was reddish when we got to be Honorary Lighthouse Keepers for a night. I was rosy-cheeked for our fancy foray into Vancouver’s performing arts scene. I was blushing when Marty whisked me away on a snowshoeing date, Bachelor-style. I even sported some splotches when a new-to-me hairdresser chopped off my mane and beat it into awkward muffin-top submission.

Yahoo! It’s a time machine rosacea medley!

Why had I never noticed this before?

I guess technically I had noticed a slight flushing in my cheeks before last month, but I had always found a clever way to rationalize it as a temporary condition rather than an ongoing affliction:

Oh, it was cold outside.

Yeah, I just finished working out.

It was hot and crowded inside.

I was nervous that night.

The air was dry!

I was wearing wool.

It’s just a bit of wind burn.

When it finally (finally!) became evident that my ruddy complexion was more than just a passing phase, I became gravely concerned. What hadn’t bothered me in the least before suddenly became a Very Serious Issue– not a life-threatening one, obviously, but one step shy of that. 😉 (After suffering from terrible acne for most of my youth and young adulthood, I developed an overarching need for my skin to be nothing less than naturally flawless forever more. Call me vain, but all the skin cells must be perfect all the time now!)

Lest we forget

Anyway. Marty and I tried searching for the cause of my rosacea. Was it heat related? Diet? Stress? Standing in the sun (albeit lathered in evil sunscreen) for 14+ hours a day? It could be all of those things, some of those things, or none of those things at all. Obviously, the only way to find out for sure would be to turn myself into a human laboratory. Long live the scientific method!

First, I paid a visit to my awesome doctor, Personal Jesus, and in his humble, holy fashion, he prescribed me this:

I just want to kiss* my doctor every time he writes me a “prescription” like this. (*A non-romantic, European-style cheek kiss, that is.)

(Not pictured on the script was his recommendation to avoid caffeine, too, but I took that particular advice to heart and cut out the last of my caffeinated vices– chocolate– right after my appointment with him. I know.)

Next, I wrote my sister– the virtual fountain of natural health knowledge– a short e-mail to find out what she could add. My message to her essentially read, ‘Hey Wenz! Rosacea? xoxo’ and was responded to promptly with a mini-thesis on DIY Rosacea Fixes, ranging from specific foods to Bach Flower Remedies to affirmations I could say to my skin every morning in the mirror. I continued to chow down on raw sauerkraut after reading her e-mail and cut out my blessed fresh ginger, but I haven’t quite resorted to talking to myself in the mirror just yet. 😉

My third step was to visit my acupuncturist, who asked me about my sugar intake (cough!) and then used a combination of needles and a tuning fork to draw heat away from my cheeks and down towards my feet. On her gentle but effectively panic-inducing suggestion, I also cut sugar out of my diet following my appointment with her. Yes, you read that correctly:

I … cut SUGAR … out of my diet!

If that doesn’t demonstrate my commitment to making my skin cells perfect once again, nothing ever will. I am a sugar fiend!

It’s been two months without chocolate now (gasp!), 1.5 months without favourite staples like fresh ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper in my morning tea (cough!), and just under a month without sugar, save for a solitary teriyaki box in a moment of weakness (choke! splutter!). I’ve been wearing a hat, sunglasses, and a good litre of the devil’s sun block every day to work, and I’ve also been saying no to even mildly spicy foods, just like a good little rosacea sufferer should. (I didn’t even have cake– or any sweet treat, for that matter– on my birthday! Marty bought himself a slice of cheesecake and asked me to blow out the candles in a symbolic birthday ritual, though. Does that count?)


So far, I haven’t noticed any dramatic (or even subtle) improvements in my skin, but my mid-section sure feels sleeker without my near-daily peanut butter cookie habit. 🙂 Go figure, hey?

Anyway, this whole post has been a long-winded back story to my short/anti-climactic announcement that I’m going in for food allergy/sensitivity testing later this afternoon. I know, right? Strike up the band! (Apologies for the huge build up to this meh announcement, but it’s been a long time since I’ve found an hour to sit at my computer and blog.) My instincts tell me that this newfound rosiness is somehow food-related, so hopefully my testing can shed some light on the foods that do my body good (as well as those foods that do it not-so-good.) It’s one thing to eat healthily, but even ‘healthy’ foods are tolerated differently by different people, right? (Cashew nuts and explosive intestinal issues, I’m talking to you!)

I’m optimistic about the magical secrets that my sensitivity read-out will reveal. As long as I’m not allergic or seriously sensitive to oats or cinnamon, I should be good. (And yes: I thought about this long and hard and decided that rolled oats would be the most challenging food for me to take out of my diet. I AM SUCH A GEEK.) Wish me luck!