Just a Red Face – or Something More? | How I Soothed My Rosacea

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This is my story about how I soothed my terribly red face in a very unusual way.

If you have red, irritated skin on your face, I hope this helps you as well!

woman with red face

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 my poor red face and thought, “After all that I have been through, I really need to share with others what I’ve been through with my skin and my health.”

And so this post was born.

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

If you have blemishes or rashes going on with your skin, something isn’t quite right inside.  It could be a topical issue, of course, but more often than not if you work on something inside, the outside gets better.

Many many people are struggling with undiagnosed skin conditions. They think that they have to just live with them, putting makeup on top to cover up the problem.

But that is not true. There are ways to deal with these things–and sometimes working on the inside of your body is just what needs to happen.

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.

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My Face’s Story

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.  I had a real problem.

His reassurance? “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:

How to Soothe a Red Face

Following are some things that you can do to soothe red facial skin.

  • 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
  • Use Green-tinted cover-up (can you say, “Wicked Witch”?)

Basically, I was supposed to change my whole life.  Meanwhile, this red face was doing its best to do just that.

I truly 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 soothe irritated skin.  More money to throw after a problem that wasn’t going away.

And how I was supposed to avoid stress when I felt like my skin was inflamed all the time?  Sigh.

Well, finally I found some answers. 

What Causes a Red Face?

There are a lot of things that can cause redness on the face, but one of them might surprise you.

As I was doing research on my situation, I read that a red face is thought to be linked to acid reflux.  Interestingly, I’d been having heartburn.  So I talked with my physician and he prescribed Zantac.

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 and reading over and over again that people were having relief from this simple change sounded amazing, and the ingredients seemed to be simple and natural. Furthermore, there weren’t any big warnings about using a small amount.

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.

My red face wasn’t completely clear, but it sure had improved 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.

older woman with red face

What I Did to Soothe My Red Skin

The HCL was a great help for me, but there are other things that have been helpful for me as I have worked on my overall health doing the following.

How Is My Face Now?

I actually wore a scarf with pink in it a few weeks ago and was told by a friend how nice it looked. Great, huh?

So wearing pink or red is not my goal, but it sure feels nice to be able to wear these colors and not feel self-conscious.  What I truly hope is that this information can help you or someone you love.

Your red face may appear to be merely a cosmetic issue, but looking and feeling inflamed all the time is not fun. And more importantly, it typically means something needs addressing inside.

Clean Skincare to Soothe Redness

Beautycounter products in a wooden tray

What you use on your face can make a big difference for your red face. You should use something gentle, with safer ingredients, and no artificial fragrances.

I use a number of products that I love but one of my favorite companies is Beautycounter due to their transparency and quality. Following are products that many who struggle with a red, irritated, face say have helped them.

Cleansing Balm (used as a cleanser or as a soothing balm–this should last about 6 months at least if used as a balm)

Countermatch Line – this set has worked wonders for lot of people with red and irritated skin, like rosacea. Their Countermatch Moisturizer works well for all kinds of irritated skin on the face.

Supreme Cream – A fantastic moisturizer.

Counterstart – this line is really basic and has also been a winner for those struggling with red, irritated skin.

Others mentioned that a facial oil with calming essential oils was helpful too.

I’m happy to help you with these products or any others and can discuss other companies as well. Just comment below the post or reach out to me at adrienne {at} wholenewmom {dot} com.

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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 a red face, what has helped you?
If you know someone struggling, please share this information with them!

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    1. Hi Carol – Sorry that’s a stock photo. I can’t get an “after” – and I don’t have any photos of when I had rosacea bad. I can try to think if I could maybe find one, but I am pretty sure I avoided the camera since it was so upsetting.

      I do have a before and after of a more recent rash that I had that came about from a mold exposure and didn’t go away due to my moisture barrier being diminished, but I don’t think I have any rosacea ones. Sorry!

  1. Diet has changed it for me and strict non toxic products. Any perfumes, fragrance even candles I stay away from. Celery Juice has been a life safer for me. It has helped me detox my liver which has had a huge impact on my kin.

    1. So glad to hear that and yes artificial fragrances are a huge problem for so many people! Truly no one should be around them! I have this post that I think you would agree with 100%. https://wholenewmom.com/dangers-of-fragrances/

      About the celery juice – it’s interesting to me as well. I haven’t used it but I did hear a health expert saying that barley grass is nearly identical to it but has more chlorophyll. I have started drinking it again – I use this powder. If you are interested in trying it, you can get $50 off with code wholenewmom. https://ishoppurium.com/products/barley-green-juice-organic-240-g

      Yay for non toxic living!

      1. I do use Barley Grass and Spirulina powder as well in a heavy metal detox smootie. I also try and order my products from AILLEA, clean products and of course I try to read all reviews to see who has the same skin issues as me!

        1. Nice! Make sure to take B12 away from spirulina. Spirulina is a B12 analogue so not good to take together. Yes, it’s helpful to see what has helped others!

  2. Wow, interesting…sadly not sure if it will help my little nieces. The 3 year old has a red face quite often…the 10 month old does occasionally. Not sure how to give them supplements or which ones would be ok for them so young…or even WHY their face has issues. I’ve been wondering if it’s eczema, but have no idea really. I babysit them, so see if and worry…but as the Aunt, can’t really do a lot about it, except maybe try to watch what the 3 year old eats while she is here…but won’t help much if she gets something that is irritating her at home. The baby is on formula…so thats not going to be doing her a lot of good either. *sigh* I worry about them, but need to try to stop worrying so much…as it’s not helping my health any. *sigh*

    1. I understand your feelings–it’s hard to know what could be going on but eczema itches pretty badly so if it’s not itching then it’s not likely that–hope that helps a litt.

      1. Ok, well I don’t see her trying to scratch it a lot…so maybe it’s not that. Seems to have crusty looking places at times…but not all the time…so thats why I wondered. It’s a mystery to be sure. Sadly the Mom said she puts diaper rash cream on it some and seems to think it helps, but that can’t be good for her. I’m thinking also if it actually helps then maybe it’s candidia related? I just don’t know! 🙁 Grrrr….this child care thing is worrisome! LOL We wanted kids but couldn’t have them, so I didn’t get used to having the worry when I was younger…now I’m in my early 50’s and get them thrust on me, and it’s been HARD! LOVE them to death, and really enjoy feeling needed for once in my life, but wow…some days it’s almost to much…especially since I’ve been trying to heal some issues of my own. Wouldn’t want to NOT babysit at least some now, as that feeling of being needed is so nice (and I do adore them), but a little less would be ok at times…especially with the worry. *sigh* It would be different if they were ours…but we can’t really help a lot, as we aren’t the only ones feeding them and don’t have the right to decide what happens…so not being able to really try to help them is kinda tough.

        1. I would guess it’s likely rosacea but it’s easier for an MD to examine to see how it appears but I don’t think there are other real causes of red cheeks from what I’m seeing. It is hard!! We all worry about ourselves and our kiddos! Maybe gently tell the mom about your concerns? It’s easier to share a worry than to tell someone what to do. I was sharing something hard w/ someone the other day and I told her “I don’t need to win this argument. I’m just trying to tell you because I care about you.” and she started listening. Hope that helps a little. You’re trying to do the right thing. Crusty stuff I think could be either – seems like it could fit both. But eczema is so terribly itchy. Hang in there – if you think they are open to giving the kids things there are some good options for overall health. Feel free to reach out at adrienne@wholenewmom.com The company at the bottom of this post has some really good gut health options. I have a lot of thoughts and am not about any one company but it’s a good one. https://wholenewmom.com/gut-brain-axis/

  3. You are doing amazing work ??! Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts. I am using tretinoin (retin-a) 0.05% for acne / anti ageing but I have rosacea. I’m not using it for rosacea per day, but i am using it to improve redness/ skin health etc so I guess I’m using it for rosacea second to acne. So happy ? I googled ‘Ret247get’, and got retin-a. It hasn’t aggravated it so far. I find if I use moisturiser lots it generally has been pretty good for my rosacea, it’s made my skin more healthy, which in turn has improved my redness…

    1. Hi there. Thanks for commenting. Yes, retinol and tretinoin can do a lot but it’s not without risk. There are a lot of concerns about it not being good for skin due to it forcing cell turnover. I hope to write a post about this soon.
      Beautycounter has a retinol alternative that is natural–it’s called Bakuchiol. Their Countertime line is great and uses that as the main foundation: https://www.beautycounter.com/adrienneurban?goto=/product/countertime-regimen-set
      It’s the best skincare I have ever used and they are transparent.

  4. my rosacea showed it’s ugly face when I had just turned 22 and was four months postpartum. I’m 24, pregnant with baby number 2 and on a pregnancy-safe antibiotic. I’ve recently started wearing makeup again just so I don’t feel like a monster all of the time. The comments I’ve received are hurtful too.. They can be so mean. None of the typical rosacea treatments were working on me… it’s gotten better from the antibiotic but I’m tired of having to take it. I don’t really know what else there is to do when I’m pregnant but I’m so tired of looking in the mirror and seeing my cheeks bright red and irritated. It’s more painful than people even know.

  5. I have tried everything under the sun for my red face is how I feel. Still haven’t found something I can say it works it can be frustrating can’t help feeling sad.

  6. My rosacea signs have been slowly developing in my later 20’s, too.
    Wow, am I grateful I am not alone.

  7. The dermatologist I saw last week was no help at all when I brought up the subject of roseacea,and the cream and tablets I’ve been using for about 2/3 years haven’t made any progress on the reduction of the redness I have,so Thanks for sharing will give it a go,

  8. Hello, I am looking into NOW enzymes. The ingredient list HCL 200mg. Is that enough or do u still recommend a separate HCL pill?

    1. Hi there. I personally took the betaine HCl mentioned in the post which has a lot more HCl in it. Most of them have about 600 mg in a pill. Hope that helps!

  9. My issue is acne, even though I’m 37. Through a lot of experimentation recently, I believe it has two root causes: food allergies/sensitivities, and toxicity. I got really toxic with a long-term exposure to mold in my home; even though that is one year in the past, it’s become very clear that my body really struggles with detoxification in general. I do take HCL though!

    1. I am so sorry that you had to deal with mold. We did as well. It’s terrible. There are a lot of things you can do to support your body, but it’s a lot of work! Hope you can improve!

        1. I never took it and I suspect I didn’t have reflux after all….or that changing other things addressed it b/c I never had a diagnosis of that that I know of otherwise.

  10. I can attest to HCL really making a difference. In fact, it made the most difference of all things combined. Although my rosacea was focused on one cheek, it was persistent as hell and equally as frustrating. I did so much research online. After almost 5 years since my first derm appt, I believe I finally am able to pinpoint. Then I figured out it was sugar causing rosacea bumps, although it had never had an effect on me ever in my life. Long story short, I believe my issue is one or both of: low stomach acid OR/AND H Plyori. I am using HCL (Doctors best brand) for the stomach acid and Mastic gum tablets for possible HP. Safe to take together. I am not a doctor and by no means soliciting medical advice here but I was in denial for so long. I am 100% confident the start of my stomach issues was antibiotics as I had to have several doses within a couple years’ period and the timeline matches up perfectly for my first derm appt. Medicines only mask the symptoms, they are not a cure. My skin looked better from HCL and Mastic gum within a week vs 3 years of medication. I can walk around without foundation on (YAY) and I REALLY appreciate my clear skin now. It’s insane really and I hope you all are able to find the help I did without tons of prescriptions and get your confident back; I spent SO MUCH MONEY on Rx meds in 4 years before figuring this out! PS, I found your site by continuing to do research on HCL and those who have potentially benefited from it–thanks for sharing.

    1. Hello Brandy–so glad to hear that you are doing better!! Sorry for the delay in responding. We had a glitch on the blog where we lost comments and finally got them back–catching up now :).

  11. Rosacea is the side product of “Indigestion”, and it is caused by the overproduction of acid, (stomach juices needed for the proper food digestion).
    Improper food digestion is caused by poor chewing habits –eating fast, chewing too little, drinking with a full mouth. Poor saliva production causes insufficient production of the needed digestive juices – naturally produced stomach acids are vital for good digestive health. Chewing food (not gum!) produces the ample amounts of saliva which is vital for your digestive health.
    Save your money and instead concentrate on chewing your food well.
    Proper food chewing will eliminate all G.E.R.D symptoms, and all other “side effects” of indigestion.

    Lesson to be learned in all of this: FOOD DIGESTION BEGINS IN THE MOUTH Eat slower, put smaller pieces into your mouth, and CHEW YOUR FOOD EXTREMELY WELL!

    1. I ALWAYS eat super slow. I am always the last one at the table and if I go to dinner with a large group, I usually have to get a box and finish after because the check has come and gone and everyone else is waiting on me to finish eating. Not saying you are wrong here, but my point is, I am a slow chewer and it has not stopped me from having heart burn all the time.

  12. I had an alternative doctor told me to take betaine HCL to tolerance before eating protein. For me, that’s four. My face is pretty good, but my eyes are still pink and broken veins on my face. I will not take prescription drugs. I also have another autoimmune disease, MS. I used to have allergies. Is that common, more than one problem?

    1. Yes, autoimmune issues often go together and they are all related to gut issues I am pretty sure. So are allergies as they are immune issues really. Have you read about Terri Wahls and her story? It’s pretty inspirational.