Just a Red Face – or Something More?

You've got a red face. Red blotches. Is it just a temporary thing? Or something More. Rosacea is a real health condition. Find out why I had a red face--and what I did to get rid of it.

Last night a new acquaintance said to me, “You have a beautiful complexion!” (and no, the above photo is not of me).

I almost couldn’t believe it, and then I told her what a testimony that was to my health improving.  I mentioned to her my previous struggles with acne and rosacea and thought, “I need to share with others what I’ve been through with my skin and my health.”

Your skin can be a reflection of what is going on inside of you.

If you have acne, rosacea, eczema, or other things going on, something isn’t quite right inside.

Approximately 45 million people worldwide don’t know that they have rosacea, that it is treatable, and that it is a symptom of other deeper issues.

There are different thoughts in the alternative medical community about the causes of skin problems, but I’m going to share part of my skin story so that hopefully you can benefit from what I’ve learned.

In my childhood, I always had beautiful olive-toned skin.

The first signs that I had a problem showed up in my late 20s.  I remember wondering about faint flushing that I’d begun to experience and I asked an older woman in my church if she thought that I had rosacea.  She had mild rosacea, and she said that there was no way I did.

But the redness continued to come and go.  Slight, but still there.

Several years later, I asked my doctor what he thought, but he dismissed my concerns and told me to just be gentle with how I washed my skin – “Use tepid water and don’t scrub,” was his advice.

Fast forward again.

Another year or so later and I saw my dermatologist for another issue.  I timidly voiced my concerns, and he validated my suspicion.  “Mild rosacea – but it probably won’t get so bad that you’ll have a bulbous nose.”  Well, I was glad about the nose thing, but I didn’t want the red face either.

Years went by and I just avoided wearing pink and red.

It all was manageable until about 4 years ago when things got really bad.

My face was red.  Really red.  Nose, cheeks, chin. 

I felt this awful irritated tingling all the time.  I could feel it creeping up into my skin and it was basically petrifying.

I was crying, complaining to my husband, and scouring the internet for solutions.  I even got an intense case a few times when the rash got bright red and looked like the classic lupus butterfly rash.

Talk about stress.  Here’s what I found:

Typical Recommendations for Managing Rosacea:

  • Special face creams and washes
  • Dietary changes (e.g. avoid spicy foods, too hot or too cold drinks, and alcohol)
  • Avoid intense exercise
  • Avoid stress
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes
  • Green-tinted cover-up (can you say, “Wicked Witch”?)

Basically, I was supposed to change my whole life.  Meanwhile, rosacea was changing mine.

I didn’t want to go anywhere.

One night my husband kindly drove me across town to a woman’s house to try samples of her expensive skin care routine that was supposed to help rosacea.  More money to throw after a problem that wasn’t going away.  And how I was supposed to avoid stress when I felt like I my skin was inflamed all the time?

Well, finally I found some answers. 

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that can affect your whole life (believe me!)  It is characterized by (Source: Rosacea.org):

  • flare ups and remissions (comes and goes)
  • typically starts around age 30
  • redness on cheeks, nose, chin, and/or forehead (can be elsewhere)
  • typically gets worse over time, forming pimples and pustules and even the huge “bulbous” nose (e.g. W.C. Fields)

What Causes Rosacea?

There are a number of thoughts out there, but rosacea is thought to be linked to acid reflux.  And I’d been having heartburn.  So I talked with my physician and he prescribed Zantac.  Now, me being the “anti-pharmaceutical” person that I am (I’ve had enough damage done to me by antibiotics already, thank you), I put off taking them.  And did more research.

One thing on the internet caught my attention.

Acid reflux can be caused by too little acid in the stomach – not too much.

The remedy?  Betaine HCl (that stands for hydrochloric acid.  Stomach acid).

It sounded simple, but a bit scary. But after digging around on the internet more I thought it sounded pretty safe.

And the $17 bottle at the health food store for 200+ pills was a lot cheaper than the expensive skin care routine.

Next thing I knew I was driving to the health food store.

Two pills with my dinner and a good night’s sleep and …

My face looked a TON better in the morning.

I couldn’t believe it.

The rosacea wasn’t completely gone.  But it sure had been set back a lot.

I wasn’t afraid to go out in public anymore.  Though I didn’t want to wear red yet, at least I didn’t feel like I was going to crawl out of my skin.

Since then, I’ve continued to work on my health and my skin.

Please note:  Many of the links below are affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on them, I might make a commission.  Your support of my blog and the free resources here is MUCH appreciated.

I actually wore a scarf with pink in it a few weeks ago and was told by a friend how nice it looked :-).

Now, wearing pink or red is not my goal.  What I truly hope is that this information can help you or someone you love.  It may appear to be a merely a cosmetic issue, but looking and feeling inflamed all the time is not fun – and more importantly, it means something needs addressing inside.

Other related posts:

What is the Best Probiotic?
The “Straight Poop” About Probiotics

Finally, I am not a doctor. Even though I was Pre-Med at a quality university, I decided that I couldn’t likely juggle being a physician while being a mom.  In hindsight, I was probably right, but that doesn’t make me any less interested in all things medical.  Still, you must check with your own physician prior to changing your diet, exercise routine, or supplements.  Just makin’ sure we understand each other :).

If you struggle with rosacea, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you know someone struggling, please share this information with them!

{Photo Credit}

This post contains affiliate links.  Here is my disclaimer.


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  1. Test comment

  2. I have scanned your treatment suggestions and admit that I have not read all the comments but I did not see anyone talking about a CULPRIT that contributes to rosacea. TYPICAL MOUTHWASH AND TOOTHPASTE! Once my friend figured this out and eliminated it, switching to natural toothpaste and mouthwash without all the chemicals, it totally cleared her rosacea and breakouts on her chin.

  3. Amanda Hayes says:

    I am so happy to have found this! I am 27 and have suffered from heartburn requiring prescription medication since I was 23. I was told it’s normal for people my age. Really? I don’t know anyone my age in otherwise good health who has constant heartburn? I am going to give the HCl a try, maybe that’s my problem!

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks, for your post! Last night my husband and I were discussing some of the changes I noticed since recently going dairy free (I have been gluten free for several years.). I thought it sounded crazy, but I noticed my face was less splotchy. Now I feel validated. ????

  5. Very interesting!

    I’ve been having gut/silent reflux/bloating issues for a few years now after an episode of food poisoning or gastritis, don’t know which since the ER didn’t do tests.
    I eat a real foods diet with fermented foods.
    I’ve always had a ruddy complexion, but these last few years the pimply like and increasing redness was becoming obvious.
    Although I have not been diagnosed with rosacea by a professional there is no doubt that I have it.
    In my research to try to heal my gut, I have tried HCl with some degree of success. In further research I began finding a trail of H-Pylori also being a link to rosacea.
    I put myself on Mastic Gum, vita C, broccoli sprouts, VSL#3, monolaurin, and garlic.
    The redness is not even noticeable at times. It really is SO much better.
    I really think the H-Pylori may be part of the issue.

    • I haven’t heard of many of those things, so I can’t speak to them, but I am glad you are better. :)

      • Thanks.

        Mastic gum is a tree resin from the Mediterranean. There are studies that it does kill H-pylori bacteria, which lives in the mucosal lining of the gut which can cause acid reflux and most ulcers. Broccoli sprouts are found to kill it as well.
        The other supplements are boosters for the immune system and anti -viral support.
        VSL#3 is a probiotic, 112billion.

        I only mention this in case HCl and diet is not the full answer for some.

    • Hello Libby,

      Could you add a link to more info on that protocol, please? I found information but doesn’t get very specific.


  6. Ok, I got some Betaine HCl, 650, and it made me quite sick; called the natural food store and they said it was because I already had enough stomach acid, which makes sence, but I wasn’t sure. I do try to eat/drink some things that are good for your stomach; my own homemade yogurt and kefir, I also drink almost daily fresh squezed lemon & orange juice and eat fruit every day. So, low stomach acid is not my Rosesa cause, and my Rosesa is quite bad right now, and has been for awhile, has spread over most of my face, down the sides of my neck and on my upper chest, it’s like a really bad rash. I’ve been using the jojoba oil for a while now…don’t know what else to do.

    • What do you mean by sick? I wish I had other ideas, but I am convinced personally it is often digestion related, though I have heard of folks talking about antibiotics on the face. I can’t medically advise, but have you maybe tried something probiotic on there? Or could you maybe have a food allergy? I am so sorry,

      • I was sick to my stomach, and the runs. The health food store told me to eat some yogurt and it would subside and it did. Maybe it is related to food allergies, not sure. I haven’t used antibiotics in probably more than 5 years at least, I try to heal myself naturally when I’m sick, etc. Can I put something probiotic directly on my face?? (Is that what you were saying?) I make my own yogurt and kefir; I’ve heard of putting yogurt directly on your nether regions if you have a yeast infection, which i’ve never had so i can’t say personally. I’m to the point that I may actually go to a dermatologist to see what they offer. I have to use a lot of make-up to cover.

        • I have never heard of the runs related to too much acid but I can ask someone who would know. I was saying to put it on your face. If the info is right that it is bacteria then I would think that would help. Again, not medical advice. Again, you could try the HCl again, at 1/2 the dose. If you subscribe to my blog you will see the Heal Your Gut course offered from time to time. It is great and I think it would be great for you. Alternatively, I use Miessence skin care which I would think might help. Their soothing line would be an option. They are pricey but they have decent discounts including 2x the rewards points this month. Let me know if I can help further. http://www.miessence.com/wholenewmom/en/category/1/skincare

    • Here is the response I got from the teacher of the Heal Your Gut course regarding your HCl reaction:

      I wouldn’t say it’s a sign of too much acid – but could be a die off type of reaction. I might back the dose down and try again and see how it goes. Some people have a lot of die off when first starting out.

  7. I deal with rosacea and stress related skin eruptions. It sounds crazy, but I recently read that Brazil nuts have something in them that is a super healer for skin (ref: Web MD )and I was in the midst of a stress breakout. I keep them them on hand (organic from Azure Standard cooperative, available in most parts of the USA) and hadn’t eaten any for a while. I got some, ate them, and the next morning the eruptions were scabbed over and the redness reduced. By the third day my face was cleared up!

    • I am guessing it’s the selenium which is apparently really good for thyroid health. Interesting. Might inquire about that. I have been taking 200 mcg of selenium b/c it’s hard to know how much you are getting from the nuts. Love ‘em though!

  8. Adrienne – I am interested in the miessence skin products. I don’t have acid reflux/heartburn at all. I do have Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue and possibly candida but have been on a gluten free, very low sugar (NO refined sugars but some honey/maple syrup or a little coconut palm sugar) and my face is not any better. Are there still discounts available and what would the final price be for the soothing skin essentials pack?

    • Hi Tina. Hmmm…I am sorry you aren’t doing better. I would personally do an acid test to see if you might need the HCl. Some folks don’t know they need it–but that isn’t medical advice, just observations from what I have read and heard, like from Lydia who teaches the Heal Your Gut course I’ve talked about. Otherwise, you can still get discounts–from 20-40% and they have extra bonus points for ordering. I will shoot you an email.

  9. Someone shared this with me on Facebook and all I can say is WOW! I’ve had severe acid reflux for years, so severe that I now have Barrett’s Esophagus which is Pre Cancer of the esophagus. I have the typical butterfly pattern of redness. My doctor has me on proton inhibitors for the acid reflux which sounds like is not what I need. I’m going to give the Betaine HCI a try. Thanks so much.

  10. Deirdre O'Malley says:

    I have the bumpy, pimples type of Rosacea. I’m 66 years old and it seemed to manifest after a serious horse riding accident 6 years ago. Maybe it was the trauma? Perhaps the medications I was given. I’ll never know. I do tend to have adrenal fatigue so there’s a connection.
    I’m writing to that tell you this ; I’ve been to countless dermatologists, used their prescription drugs, all to no avail. They worked a bit, or for a while and if I missed a day, it was all back. I found a company called BeautiControl. I tried their Sensitive Skin care line using the face wash, moisturizer and their Calming Fluid for flare ups (usually from being in the sun too long). I have found that buy using these products in the morning and before bed, my Rosacea is almost non existent. Best thing is if I skip a session or even a day or two it doesn’t flare up again like when I was using the prescriptions. The stuff is not too expensive and lats quite a long time (months).
    I want to share this with other sufferers.
    Full disclosure :I did work for BeautiControl after my accident. I’m a massage therapist. I broke my back in that accident and couldn’t do massage anyone, but seriously missed that spa environmental I found this company and did home spa parties. I still ‘belong’ to that company, but purely for the small discount I get when purchasing my skin products. Happily, I’m back to doing massage again.
    I’m intrigued by your information about actually getting rid of this nasty condition and will now continue reading what you have to say about it in your blog. Thank you for doing the research!

    • Glad to hear something is working for you! I wonder if the stress might have upset your gut and caused the condition. I am using a line by Miessence that is likely more expensive but I am happy with it. Not sure about BeautiControl’s ingredients. I haven’t looked at them in a long time. Welcome!!!

  11. Thanks for sharing your experience with rosacea, reflux, and stomachs acid. That may explain why tomato gravy does not aggrivate my reflux. In fact, I crave acidic foods. I need to do more research myself now.

    Have you found any connection between reflux and tongue tie? My children have both been diagnosed with tongue tie and I suspect I also have a degree of it. If you are interested in starting some research google Holly Puckering and read the PDF file. Wow.

    Thanks for the time you put into your work.

  12. Adrienne, do you still take this? I’m just learning about it and hope it could help my acid reflux. Thanks! <3

  13. I just found your blog today and came across this post. I don’t have rosacea, but I am really having a lot of heartburn. I read about HCL with pepsin and tried it last week (250 mg…wanted to start slowly a) with my evening meal. I never experienced any warmth, but woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible acid taste in my mouth and a super uncomfortable, gurgly stomach. I’m guessing I have enough acid??? Can you describe the warmth you are supposed to feel?

    • Oooh…I guess you might. I can’t medically advise, but I would guess so. Perhaps trying during the day is better b/c you can be awake to evaluate how you feel. I was told that it’s best to start supplements in the morning for that reason. Hope that helps :). My “warmth” ended up being more of a tummy ache….