Eczema, Dermatitis, Rosacea
The doctors didn’t know what it was, why it happened or how to treat it…
This guide reveals how I discovered a potent yet cheap face cream to cure it for good
No time to read the full guide?
Here’s what you need to know
Try Azelaic Acid today!
Trigger foods (see below)
Keep a photo diary
Dairy, eggs & refined sugars
Extreme diets aren’t sustainable
Excessive use of hydrocortisone
In This Guide I’ll Cover
- Does this sound familiar?
- The drugs don’t work
- How I coped (Hydrocortisone)
- Histamine intolerance
- Foods to eliminate
- The game changer (Azelaic Acid)
Before we get started
I’m not a doctor and do not give medical advice
Always consult with a medical professional before making changes to your diet or using new products
The redness on my face got worse over the course of 18 months, and I was left feeling helpless and without a cure.
Here’s what happened, what I tried and a life-changing solution that I found out of the blue.
The Story of my Rosacea
It was winter time and I started to notice a patch of dry, slightly red and itchy skin on one of my cheeks.
I didn’t know it then, but that was the start of a long and unhappy year.
I started to apply moisturiser, and it would go down. But then a few days later it was back. I guessed it was down to the cold and because I was wearing a helmet to ride my motorbike to work and back each day.
Time was not kind…
As the weeks and months went by, the redness continued to get worse each time it arrived and the gaps between it going away were getting shorter. I started to think it could be something else.
I did what anyone would do…
And as the weeks went by, things started to get much worse. As this continued, the redness on my face was very visible. To the point where it looked as though I had got sunburn marks while wearing sunglasses.
Fast forward 10 months and my face had got so bad that I didn’t want to go outside unless I was going to work. I felt incredibly self-conscious and embarrassed. It took a massive hit on my self confidence and mental health.
The outbreaks of redness and itching on my face would go in phases. First of all, it would be red and itchy. Then it would calm down a bit but start to heal over and the skin would become very flaky. Here’s how it looked as it was healing.
The problem was that after this outbreak and healing, another outbreak would happen almost immediately afterwards.
It was at this point that I was getting desperate for things to try to resolve it.
What the doctors said…
The doctors I saw gave me some creams to try, but none of them worked. I’d seen multiple doctors, all of whom said it was a form of dermatitis such as Seborrheic or atopic. One said it was Rosacea. In short, no one knew.
So, I turned to trusty Google…The solver of all problems! Here are some of the key things I found to try out:
- Low histamine diets
- Removing all dairy
- Cut out known allergy foods, like eggs, seafood & nuts
- No caffeine, so no coffee!
I tried all of them! I even sold my £500 coffee machine to remove the temptation. I wish I hadn’t sold it now…
Below, I’ll share some more details on what I tried, what helped and what didn’t. But first, here’s the solution that literally changed my life within a few days!
The Ordinary Azelaic Acid
I’ll go into the details on this more in section 5 below, but this face cream has literally changed my life. It’s a cheap (£5.50) option so if it doesn’t work you have not lost much. It’s 100% worth it.
Remember, though, that this is my personal experience. What works for me might not work for you. If you are reading this post, I imagine you are in a similar position to where I was. I know how it feels, so it is worth trying things out to see if they work for you.
I’m confident you will find a solution, you just have to keep looking and trying things.
Where to buy Azelaic Acid
I always buy direct from The Ordinary, also known as Deciem. I buy 5 Azelaic Acid items at a time so that I get free delivery. You can purchase direct from there here.
I have a history of eczema, from a child and up until now, so I had some creams lying around which contained hydrocortisone.
I was curious if this would help the condition on my face so I applied a little and it did help! The next day it was a lot clearer. I knew this wasn’t a long term solution, because applying too much hydrocortisone can damage the skin, but it worked for social events…
I would use it a day or so before I knew I had to go somewhere, such as for a birthday or to meet friends. I saw it as a short term solution to help me cope with the redness on my face.
You can read more about the use of hydrocortisone on the Eczema website.
Rosacea & Dermatitis Trigger Foods
From allergy to intolerance, foods can cause severe reactions in the body.
Let’s look at what possible triggers there could be which cause or contribute to rosacea, dermatitis and eczema related conditions.
Let food be thy medicine…
This famous saying is becoming more relevant again, hundreds of years after it was first coined. And for good reason.
It is estimated that around 15 million people in the UK suffer from Eczema. That’s over 20% of the population!
Do foods trigger a reaction?
An obvious place to start looking for answers is food. We know that some people have allergies to certain items, such as nuts and shell fish. So perhaps dermatitis could be caused by the accumulation of foods which the body does not react well to.
Allergy Vs Intolerance
Allergic reactions are your immune system’s response to something, they usually happen straight after having the food and can be severe and even life-threatening. They can often be caused by even a small amount of the food.
An intolerance does not involve the immune system and is usually worse if you have more of the food you are intolerant to. It can take time to show symptoms of an intolerance, so it’s not always easy to identify the cause without an elimination diet.
You can find out more about the differences from the NHS website.
What I tried…
When I first decided to look into this, I opted for an elimination diet. From looking a whole load of articles online, and based on what I liked, I came up with the following foods to eat:
- White rice
That’s it! I ate the same thing, every day, for around 10 days. The results were incredible! My skin cleared up and I had very little inflammation in my body. I could tell because my skin was less “puffy”, especially around my stomach and face.
Unfortunately, this was not sustainable. After 10 days, I had to go out and was feeling very happy so I had a burger, chips and a milkshake. The next day it flared up again.
You can see in the images above that my skin was very clear after trying out the diet. Then, the day after it started to flare up going red and after 3 days was worse still. This continued to become more inflamed over the course of a week.
But all was not lost. I now knew that there was something to the food intolerance side of things. Unfortunately it took me a long time to workout exactly what my triggering foods were though!
I’ll talk more about the elimination diet in “Section 4″ below.
What foods to remove
There are some commonly known foods which are likely to cause allergic reactions, as noted by the NHS:
That doesn’t mean it will be those, but it is a good starting point if you aren’t sure.
What I now know…
I now know that my body doesn’t tolerate eggs and dairy products very well. I don’t get an allergic reaction, more of a build up of symptoms if I continue to have eggs and dairy regularly.
I can get away with having a few eggs a week and a bit of milk here and there, but if I have a little every day, the redness on my face gets worse. I also develop a bit of a rash on other areas of my body.
It took me ages to work this out because the reaction is gradual. It builds over time and is almost unnoticeable at first. Often, I’ll start to get a bit of itching and tingling first, then it gets worse from there.
Some other food triggers to avoid
From personal experience, and the knowledge that these foods cause inflammation in the body, I would recommend avoiding or having as little as possible of the following items in your diet:
- Alcohol – and obvious one but this plays havoc with your body. It’s a poison so your body has to work hard to remove it which means it can’t work to repair your skin and body. If you HAVE to have some, go for organic wine where possible. Just 1 glass a week max.
- Sugar – Man made sugar is in a lot of products and it’s not good for your body, especially in the doses we regularly consume it in nowadays. Natural sugars aren’t a problem, such as from fruits. But if you are having lots of processed foods this is going to damage your body and skin.
- Wheat – Not necessarily bad, but lots of bread products are made out of terrible ingredients. They will say “wholewheat” and have lots of fancy marketing terms to make you think it’s healthy, but it’s usually not. A lot of people suffer from bloating as a result of poor quality ingredients in bread. I would recommend avoiding where possible or go organic and fresh.
Desperate times call for desperate measures
When faced with a severe rash on my face, one path I walked down was histamine
This is why and how I thought it could be causing my dermatitis
Is histamine responsible for my red face?
During the 18 months that I was having consistent flare-ups on my face which was either rosacea, dermatitis or eczema. No one could tell for sure. I came across a lot of talk online about histamine intolerance.
So I decided to dive a little deeper into what it is and whether it could be the cause of my issues.
What is histamine?
Website Healthline say “Histamine intolerance is not a sensitivity to histamine, but an indication that you’ve developed too much of it.”
There are many reasons why this can happen, but in my case I was suspicious of two things:
- Over eating of cold meats
- Hay fever
Over eating of cold meats I was worried about because, according to sources online, histamine levels increase in meat after it is cooked especially if you keep leftovers and eat them at a later date.
At the time, I was really well prepared with my food so I was cooking batches of mince and eating it over 2-3 days. I was then cooking a chicken and eating that over a 2-3 day period.
I have hay fever and that means I produce more histamine so I suspected that my histamine levels were already higher.
What I did about it
I tried out many of the recommended ways to prepare foods, what foods not to eat and histamine lowering foods to consume.
None of it helped that much to be honest! My face was still going in phases of flare-ups and flaking and I was losing hope with all the different lotions and potions I had been trying.
My conclusion about histamine intolerance
Is that I’m sure that some people have this issue, as there are so many out there who have seen positive improvements after following a low histamine diet.
They’ve seen dramatic improvements in mood, skin and their overall health as a result. So, if nothing else is working for you it’s definitely worth trying. It might work it might not.
One positive that came out of it for me was that I now eat way less meat. It’s something I wanted to do for a while anyway, so trying it out definitely helped me.
The simplest, arguably most effective strategy to try out first whenever you have allergic or intolerance symptoms
Yet also the hardest to actually do! An elimination diet requires huge will power and organisation.
Elimination Diets Work but Don’t…
When you write down on paper what you need to do for an elimination diet, it seems very simple.
Eat the same foods each day for, let’s say 1 week, track how you get on and then add extra ingredients into the mix.
Starting off with “safer” foods which you feel are less likely to cause issues and then adding in more variety or potential trigger foods will show you if one of them causes a problem for your body.
It’s not that simple…
The reality of it is far from easy. When you are super restricted on what you can and can’t eat, you have to be super prepared. All the foods you can eat need to be readily available otherwise temptation can cause issues.
And you really start to notice what cravings and had habits you have! Those sweet treats and coffees can be really addictive…When you remove then, you can have mood swings, cravings and be miserable to be around…
Is it worth trying?
The short answer is yes, it is. But it’s not a long term solution. The point of this short term diet is to find out which foods cause problems for you.
This is a helpful step-by-step guide on how to plan for an implement an elimination diet.
What I did and what I learned
I managed to stick to a pretty restrictive diet for 10 days which definitely helped show me that something I was eating caused the red flare-ups on my face.
My problem was that I re-introduced too many other foods at the same time! So I had no idea what caused the issue.
The best piece of advice I can give is to start off with a not too restrictive diet. For example, just remove the most commonly known trigger foods such as:
- Processed sugar
Try that for 1 week and see what happens. If no improvement, you may want to try being more restrictive. If it does work, and your symptoms improve, you know it’s one of the ingredients on the list.
Top Tip: White rice is filling and very unlikely to cause a reaction in most people. It’s easy and fast to cook in just 10 minutes, too. That can be a staple part of your elimination diet allowed foods. Remember, it’s only for a short time.
The Amazing Azelaic Acid
It was by complete accident that I came across Azelaic Acid, but what a life changer it has been
I was really disappointed that the doctors did not recommend trying it out. Unfortunately, they are all too often dismissive of potential solutions when they’re not an approved drug, even though many have success with them.
All about the amazing azelaic acid
As I was reaching the end of my tether with the rash I had developed on my face, I finally found a solution which came at the most unexpected of times.
It was one of my housemates birthday’s approaching in April 2019, so I was trying to work out what to buy her as a gift. I noticed that she liked to use creams from The Ordinary. She had a batch of them in the bathroom cabinet and she was running low on one of them, the Azelaic Acid.
So I went onto their website and looked at the product. I noticed that there was a write-up which mentioned about how good azelaic acid was for helping reduce redness and rosacea.
At that point in time I was willing to try anything and being only £5.50 I was definitely going to try it so I bought an extra one for myself to try out.
Applying azeliac acid
The first thing to note is it’s always best to try a new product out on a small area, known as a spot test. This is especially important on an area like your face because the skin is more sensitive than other areas on the body.
I did that and it wasn’t a problem, so I went ahead and put the cream all over my face. Then it started…A stinging and tingling sensation. I was worried. It felt almost like it was burning!
I rushed to the mirror to see what was happening, but there was nothing there. No redness or inflammation.
The stinging continued for 15-20 minutes, mainly around the areas where it was red already. Then it slowly went away. I applied it twice a day and each time the same thing would happen.
How long does it take for azelaic acid to work?
I noticed the improvements within 3 days. I could tell that the redness was going down on my cheeks. The other point to note is that because azelaic acid can dry out the skin, my skin started peeling a bit.
I continued using it twice a day, every day and the results were incredible. The redness disappeared completely and my skin looked normal again for the first time in 18 months.
How to use azelaic acid in your skincare routine
This is my personal experience of using it. I’m by no means an expert.
- Apply twice a day, morning and night when you have an outbreak of redness, rosacea or acne on your skin
- Use a fragrance free moisturiser specifically for sensitive skin afterwards to avoid too much peeling and dryness
- Go back down to once a day before bed once the symptoms are gone and increase frequency of use as and when required
- Pay particular attention to any foods you eat which you think trigger your skin, such as eggs, dairy, nuts or seafood
This is the routine I have been using for more than a year now and with good results. My skin is not exactly the same as it was, and I’m not sure it ever will be, but it is way better and the redness has gone. Most people would never tell that I had any issues.
Where to buy azeliac acid
I can’t speak highly enough for The Ordinary Azelaic Acid product. Everyone I speak to also loves the product from The Ordinary. For such a small cost, it seems like a no-brainer to try it out.
I’d recommend buying direct from their website. Click the image below to go directly to the product.
Fights acne, rosacea and dermatitis
Clears blemishes and removes dead skin cells
Alcohol, nut, oil & gluten free
Excellent for exfoliation and safe on nearly all skin types
Your questions answered, succinctly
Your Questions Answered
Yes, you can. I prefer to allow the Azelaic Acid to work on my skin for 15 to 20 minutes before I apply a moisturiser for sensitive skin, though.
From my experience, I would say yes it does. If I have a flare-up of eczema or Rosacea and apply Azelaic Acid, my skin will become dry and peel a bit. But after regular use it is a lot better. I also apply a moisturiser to help reduce the dryness.
Most people say that Azelaic acid helps their Rosacea, but every person is unique. The best thing to do is try it out on a small area of your skin and see how it reacts. If no issues happen, put it on a slightly larger area.
Unfortunately, no one knows the exact cause or the best treatment for Rosacea. Some find that certain foods trigger their symptoms. Others find it can be brought on by stress. But one thing is for sure, lots of people also find that Azelaic Acid also helps calm the symptoms of Rosacea.
Yes, many rosacea sufferers get excellent results using azelaic acid for their symptoms. But it doesn’t work for everyone because each person, their condition and skin is unique.
It’s worth trying though, as it’s cheap and dermatologists suggest that it is safe to use for mos skin types. Try it out on a small patch of skin first.
Azelaic acid reduces blemishes and calms redness on the skin. It also helps to remove dead skin cells, so it will accelerate the process of tanned skin removal if you are naturally lighter in colour.
From my experience, yes it does. But not everyone experiences the same feeling. I have sensitive skin and also some form of dermatitis or rosacea. I find that when my skin is red and I apply azelaic acid it causes a tingling sensation, but it goes away after 15-20 minutes and doesn’t cause any kind of inflammation or redness. In fact, it reduces the redness.
Yes, it should be safe to use. Azelaic acid naturally forms on the skin anyway, so it’s natural. Many find that azelaic acid helps to calm the redness from rosacea. As always, ask a doctor first and then apply a small amount to a small area of skin to test it out first.
It will vary from person to person and also depends on how long you have had it, how persistent is it and what other triggers you have which contribute to it. Applying Azelaic acid twice a day can help you see improvements within a few days.