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.

Is Your Probiotic Making You Sick?
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. 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.

  2. I say be done with it all and get this discovered by a doctor in Japan. Someone on a different blog while searching for answers posted this product. I was tired of trying everything I could and tried it. My rosacea is gone, has been for a year. I wish I had pics to show you before and after. This doctor discovered on many cases a mite causing this. It also can be passed down from mother to child. You can get tested for it, or if you have a microscope you can do a scraping yourself and look, or do like me and buy a jar. One jar was all it took along with the soap. Save money and you may never need anything else again. http://www.demodexsolutions.com/zhongzhou-zinc-oxide-and-sublimed-sulfur-ointment-zz-cream.asp

    1. Wow that’s crazy. I think I heard about this…I wonder if the mites are the issue, however, or if the body is deficient somehow and the skin’s microbiome is allowing these mites to proliferate. Glad you are doing better. One thing I am concerned about, however, is that searching for this on other sites led me to Amazon where there are some pretty horrible reviews. https://amzn.to/3yo9ICi (affiliate link) – not sure what to think. I know that sometimes the products are not the same on Amazon–not sure what is going on here since they are saying that the formula seems to have changed.

  3. 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?

    1. 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. Otherwise, you can still get discounts–from 20-40% and they have extra bonus points for ordering. I will shoot you an email.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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,

      1. 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.

        1. 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. https://wholenewmom.com/miessence

          1. Sorry were you saying to put the HCl directly on the face or some sort of probiotic? I purchased a 650 mg dose so no way to take 1/2 and don’t think I want to feel that way again. I do have some digestive enzymes and probiotics I take, I could increase those??
            Also, Do you exfoliate your face?? I go back and forth because it gets really read afterwards but I feel it needs it to get rid of the dry flakiness??

            1. I meant HCl internally. Again, I am not a doc and this isn’t medical advice. It’s possible that digestion is off but if you are taking a good probiotic I don’t see a reason to increase. I never did exfoliate when I had rosacea. I do now. I have HCl that is a tablet. It’s this brand. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00068IY0O/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00068IY0O&linkCode=as2&tag=whnemo-20 (affiliate link)

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. Hello Libby,

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


  7. 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. ????

  8. 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!

    1. Hope it works!!! Please share! I would also maybe check out my probiotics post and candida ones. Take care!

  9. 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.

    1. I just went back and edited the post. I am still using HCl daily. I still follow the same diet. I stopped the jojoba wash and am now using Miessence skin care. I love it. It is pricey but it’s quality is really exceptional. I haven’t really shared it w/ my blogging audience yet but I plan to. I would be happy to talk w/ you about any of this if you would like.

      1. Thank you! I did look at the Miessence skin care and it sounds like the type of product I’m looking for. However, ingredients weren’t listed and I need to research it for my known allergens. I’ll google it!

        1. The ingredients are all listed: here is the link. Oops! The link isn’t working. I heard they are having issues w/ their site. I can get the list for you if you like–or you can tell me your allergies.

        2. I figured out why you couldn’t see the ingredients. They are under each individual item. The cleanser, conditioner, and moisturizer. Let me know what you think!

        1. Oh, I should add that I was using a high quality moisturizer but my face was just feeling dryer and dryer so I am not sure what the cause was.

          1. I found this article fascinating. One thing I don’t see mentioned is vitamin c. I have tried using c topically and internally for its great antioxidants, but find that my Rosacea gets much worse. Does the Miessence line have vit. C in it?

  10. Hmm, I wasn’t aware of that. I do intact fermented foods and drinks, kombucha, raw kefir, sauerkraut, sourdough, yogurt and cheese. What about raw acv? I wonder if that could be making my breakouts worse. I have always drank milk, and love it and don’t want to give that up, it helps fill me up, but I could stop the others and see if that helps. Thanks.

  11. What are your thoughts on raw milk? Or raw goat milk and cheeses? My problems got worse over the last few years. I got rid of sugar and most wheat unless it’s been fermented, I make my own sourdough, but it isn’t much this last year, but no changes. I noticed a real outbreak when visiting my sis in fla and it was warm in the house and I got a cold and use nose spreaders for nasal congestion(I always loved them). I don’t use them anymore(can’t)and had to stop all the face washes and creams I have used in the past. I will try the hcl and have jojoba oil(which I love) to help with the dryness but around the face not directly on the nose though. I will try the wash too, and hope this helps, but your thoughts please on this. Thanks.

    1. I think it’s great for lactose intolerant folks, but are you eating it? I think dairy is a highly allergenic food so it could be a culprit. There are also folks who have reactions to fermented foods. I can’t have too many right now.

  12. Eliminating sugar and wheat from your diet will almost always clear up acne. And it seems I’ve read that Rosacea is the result of a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine — H. Pylori seems to be one of the usual suspects

  13. if certain foods/substances aggravate rosacea, doesn’t it make sense that an imbalance of digestion could add to it? it’s interesting how so many women experience rosacea these days and our eating supplies and eating habits are so whacked out. it could be worth a try for a few supplements. re the tea tree oil. in my experience with rosacea, less is more. meaning, the less i fuss with my skin and the less threatening (to the skin) the product, the less reaction I have. so using oil neat on the face is a very non-threatening (to the skin) way of applying skin care whether or not mites have anything to do with it (have heard that also). that’s why the oil washes have such good reviews by people…it’s just simple and they slide on, you can apply with your fingertips, no friction needed, no harshness.

  14. I did some more reading and was trying to find something that didn’t have to be ingested. I read about how many rosacea sufferers have a high count of demodex mites(um, ew!) and many people have had success with 100% tea tree oil applied to the face. I have been applying tea tree oil to my face once or twice a day for almost 2 weeks and can already tell a difference! It’s not completely gone but looks more controlled, no bumps, skin looks smoother and more pinkish than bright red. It does have a slight drying effect though.

  15. Thanks so much, Adrienne, I am definitely interested in trying the jojoba face wash! I forgot to mention that I am pregnant (baby is due in less than 2 weeks!) and I plan on breastfeeding for at least a year. Do you know if the HCL will be safe for me to take while pregnant/lactating? Do you recommend taking it with every meal? Most days I don’t really eat “meals” per se, I kind of “graze” throughout the day 🙂 Would I have to take the HCL every single time I eat anything? Oh, and the HCL pills are about $8-$10 on Amazon.com for 200-250 pills!

    1. Hi Dawn. The HCL is just stomach acid. I’m not a physician but I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be safe. I took it while lactating. I wouldn’t take it every time you eat. Just for bigger meals / with protein maybe. Maybe 3 per day. Also a good digestive enzyme might help as well. Check out the brand on my store page. I really like it. And if you haven’t checked out Vitacost, they have the brand that I use, Country Life for a very reasonable price. Feel free to ask any other questions!

  16. Ive had a red and ruddy complexion since childhood and never thought anything of it (well, never thought it might have a cause, ive often been asked if im sunburnt even if ive not been out in the sun).
    I also suffer ezcema and psoriasis off and on (mostly on when I am under alot of stress, I dont know if its the stress or if I eat badly in these periods I’ll have to take better notice of that).
    It was a really interesting read and really got me thinking – Thanks

  17. Hi Adrienne,

    Good to know you have found something that works.

    I have mild rosacea and so it isn’t the rash that’s irritating me as such, it’s the tip of my nose has got fat and bulbous! Do you think what you took would help get my nose shape back to normal? Or does it just work for the rash?

    1. Hmmm…I have no idea. Has a dermatologist told you that it is permanent damage? I looked on the internet a little and I couldn’t find anything definitive. If you are having any digestive issues at all it would for sure be worth a try. I would also consider using good enzymes. I don’t have a shopping cart set up on my site yet, but it you look on my store page you can see the enzyme that I use. I love it. Funny thing is I didn’t realize how bad my digestion was for so long and now that it is working so much better (most of the time) I am hooked! The HCL just really works on helping you digest your food so your skin can do better. Hope that helps somewhat.

  18. Thank you so much for this post! My mom always said I had a “nice rosy glow” throughout high school but now as a 28-year-old, I see it has gotten worse. Lots of warm red bumps over my cheeks, but fortunately it doesn’t irritate me beyond just looking bad. It gets really bad after running and hot showers, both of which I absolutely love! I’m a bit frustrated because first of all, my dermatologist wasn’t even sure if I had rosacea or lupus (it looks excatly like roasacea, looks nothing like lupus!) and second of all because I haven’t noticed any differences since changing my diet (I’ve become vegetarian since December with very limited amounts of dairy, but I still really enjoy desserts, I’m working on it!) I don’t eat spicy foods, nor do I drink alcohol, coffee, or any caffeine anyways. The HCl sounds interesting, I’m willing to give it a shot!

    1. Hello Dawn – I so hope this works for you! If not, drop back and let me know – well, let me know either way:-)! I’ve been working on other things with my diet and things that maybe I could help with also. Did you see my jojoba face wash post? You might really like that as well. Take care.