Coffee and caffeine reduce the risk of rosacea


Researchers studying a large group of rosacea sufferers and non-rosacea sufferers have discovered that there is a link between caffeinated coffee intake and a reduction in the incidence of rosacea. Could your daily visit to your coffee shop be relieving your rosacea symptoms? Read on to find out what the study actually discovered.

Quick Summary

Writing in the New York Times, Nicholas Bakalar offers a one sentence summary of the study, suggesting a high coffee intake reduced rosacea risk by more than 20 percent;

Women who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 23 percent lower risk of the skin disorder than those who drank less than a cup a month.

and further, analyzing their results and projecting into the future –

The senior author, Wen-Qing Li, an assistant professor of dermatology at Brown University, said that the study focused on the risk of developing rosacea, but that people with the disorder might also benefit from drinking coffee.

and even advocating that coffee consumption might actually offer a positive result

“We would positively anticipate that caffeine intake and caffeinated coffee consumption may be beneficial for lessening rosacea severity as well,” he said, “but this would require further clinical investigation.”

I do like the way that the article offers it’s only significantly reliable conclusion couched in the negative –

Our findings do not support limiting caffeine intake as a means to prevent rosacea and may have implications for the causes of and clinical approach to rosacea.

More Research Needed

Like so many research paper abstracts we feature here on Rosacea News, we are left wanting more. Should we all start upping our coffee intake? We know the caffeine must be present, but is there another active ingredient that is also important? Could there be some kind of extract from coffee that we could use to create a viable rosacea supplement?

Well these and many more really interesting followup questions will have to wait – the mechanism of action for one – the most important fact, is yet to be discovered.

But for now, go get that extra cup of mojo and enjoy!

Article Abstract

Li S, Chen ML, Drucker AM, et al.

Association of Caffeine Intake and Caffeinated Coffee Consumption With Risk of Incident Rosacea In Women. JAMA Dermatol.

Published online October 17, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.3301

Importance  Caffeine is known to decrease vasodilation and have immunosuppressant effects, which may potentially decrease the risk of rosacea. However, the heat from coffee may be a trigger for rosacea flares.

The relationship between the risk of rosacea and caffeine intake, including coffee consumption, is poorly understood.

Objective  To determine the association between the risk of incident rosacea and caffeine intake, including coffee consumption.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cohort study included 82 737 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II), a prospective cohort established in 1989, with follow-up conducted biennially between 1991 and 2005. All analysis took place between June 2017 and June 2018.

Exposures  Data on coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate consumption were collected every 4 years during follow-up.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Information on history of clinician-diagnosed rosacea and year of diagnosis was collected in 2005.

Results  A total of 82 737 women responded to the question regarding a diagnosis of rosacea in 2005 in NHS II and were included in the final analysis (mean [SD] age at study entry, 50.5 [4.6] years).

During 1 120 051 person-years of follow-up, we identified 4945 incident cases of rosacea. After adjustment for other risk factors, we found an inverse association between increased caffeine intake and risk of rosacea (hazard ratio for the highest quintile of caffeine intake vs the lowest, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.69-0.84; P < .001 for trend).

A significant inverse association with risk of rosacea was also observed for caffeinated coffee consumption (HR, 0.77 for those who consumed ≥4 servings/d vs those who consumed <1/mo; 95% CI, 0.69-0.87; P < .001 for trend), but not for decaffeinated coffee (HR, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.56-1.14; P = .39 for trend).

Further analyses found that increased caffeine intake from foods other than coffee (tea, soda, and chocolate) was not significantly associated with decreased risk of rosacea.

Conclusions and Relevance  Increased caffeine intake from coffee was inversely associated with the risk of incident rosacea. Our findings do not support limiting caffeine intake as a means to prevent rosacea.

Further studies are required to explain the mechanisms of action of these associations, to replicate our findings in other populations, and to explore the relationship of caffeine with different rosacea subtypes.

Your Comments

I have been a decaf coffee drinker for a long time. Caffeine makes me shake too much

 I thought coffee was a trigger. Very confused now

Has anyone tried cannabis oil/butter?

Can’t stand the taste of Coffee, but if it’s the Caffeine, I’ll take mine in the form of Tea please 😄


I am suspect of this study.
As a scientist myself, I see lots of flawed scientific studies these days .
Reaching questionable conclusions based on available data.

For example, a recent study claimed they found that eating potatoes was a cause of high blood pressure.
But when I read the study details, they did not isolate the way those potatoes were eaten.
So the study included french fries, baked potato with butter, salt, sour cream, potato chips, etc…

You get the idea.

My question would be …. “How do you know the blood pressure increases you saw in the study were due strictly to the pure potatoes and NOT the fats, salt or other dietary and lifestyle habits of those people eating greasy fried foods ?”

This is confusing. I’ve used decaff coffee and tea for years now thinking it might reduce the effects of rosacea.

Coffee is a huge trigger for me. Any form of caffeine is. This study isn’t for everyone.

Load of rubbish sorry
I drink coffee a lot and never helped me
Rather Odd Study …
Just thinking about it I’m flared up
Caffeine triggers me like nothing else plus it gives me crazy insomnia.
 I’ve suffered from ocular rosacea dry eye for a lifetime until a few years ago when it suddenly markedly improved. In hindsight it improved when I went from not drinking any coffee to drinking it all day long. Never made the connection before. Thanks for posting this. Additional smokers have a much lower incidence of Sjogren’s Disease. Not that I recommend taking up smoking to avoid it.
Funny I thought it was gonna say the opposite! Since dropping down to less then two cups mines much better!
I’ve gone caffeine-free and the opposite, loads of caffeine, as much coffee as possible and there has been no difference whatsoever in my case

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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10 Reader Comments

  1. What about oral Prednisilone induced rosacea !!! I had to take it for approx 4 years & my skin has become very reactive to any form of tv,mobile phone, tablet use or any bodily form of energy e.g. hoovering etc & as this causes heat, terrible sweating of my face, even moving about. I have to take tepid showers, but the very act of drying myself brings on terrible flushing, & sweats. My life has stopped because I can do nothing for fear of the horrendous pain, I look like & feel like a burns victim. I dread the summer & the winter as I have Raynauds Syndrome. The ensuing depression is persistent & I feel like cutting off or slashing my face in the hope that the resultant scar tissue will thicken my skin & get the medical professionals to finally realise I need help.My cheek bones become swollen & my face goes from Red to purple.Even in winter I have to sleep with window open.This medically induced rosacea + reactive skin is & has ruined my life. I don’t mean to brag but those steroids have affected my whole life. After 5 kids I still retained my figure but now carry round loads of excess skin as the steroids bloated me so much. I was very gregarious, witty, confident, had porcelain skin, lovely natural blonde hair ( which is now like straw & thinning rapidly now .I have a very high IQ, Consequently I’ve read all I can regarding my condition & the 3 Dermatologists I’ve seen have openly admitted that I know as much as they do. The 1st gave me the extent of his knowledge & told me to sit with cold flannels on my face.Apart from my ruining my face & figure the steroids have also impacted on my body & my whole life. I would like to see if laser treatment would help with the erythema, but would have to pay for it & travel to the other side of Britain to have a consultation, if I am ,I’d have to undertake this journey every time. I’m disabled, can’t drive, my husband is disabled too, so I’d have to rely on the kindness of others. At the well known hospital where laser treatment would ( hopefully ) be able to help, because it’s part of another hospital trust I’d receive laser treatment free because it was medically induced. I’ve paid the same as everyone in Britain in taxes & contributions but because of these Trusts any NHS treatment comes down to a Postcode Lottery. My quality of life is zilch. There’s much more to this story regarding NHS negligence but I’ve not the money to sue & wouldn’t want any solicitor who does a no win no fee offer to prosper greatly from my pain.Anyway, suing the NHS would be like plaiting fog. They would unite & it would be me against the words of doctors & consultants. I’m now 66 but the NHS ruined my health in my late 40’s.My Gp’s too busy. I know that I have a great risk of dying of hypothermia due to trying to stay cold as my facial redness, purple hue due to heat is unbearable. That combined with the Raynauds & aging doesn’t bode well, plus anything else the steroids have weakened. Please, can anyone help me with this steroid induced rosacea & reactive skin ?

    • Jennifer says:

      I am sorry to hear your rosacea story. Have you tried using a humidifier to add moisture to the dry air caused by heating? I live in a hot sub-tropical climate with high humidity. Whilst the heat can be irritating to my skin, the humidity ensures that the moisture levels in my skin remain high. I ensure that I keep my skin hydrated by drinking lots of water and using quality hydrating skincare products. I recently holidayed in a cold climate and found that my rosacea was irritated more by the cold weather and the hot, dry artificial heating than the natural heat at home. I put this down to moving between the natural cold and the artificial heating and the lack of humidity. Once I returned home to 32 degrees Celsius weather, my skin settled. I also recommend the use of laser therapy to remove the surface capillaries which will reduce the flushing. This has had the single biggest impact on reducing my flushing. Best wishes.

  2. Anna says:

    I’m surprised by this. I drink tea rather than coffee but, based on years of trial and error, believe caffeine is one of my biggest triggers. I know it’s a vasoconstrictor but think that’s outweighed by its stimulant nature.

    • Sarah Barber says:

      I agree Anna. Coffee – regular or decaf, causes me to flush and my face to burn. I love it, but I always regret it when I break down and half even half a cup. Before Rosacea, I drank at least 4 cups a day. Unfortuantely, it didn’t prevent me from getting it.

  3. Pavla Krenkova says:

    I drink 3-4 cups of medium-strength coffee every day for many years. I think (and beleive) it does not make my condition worse. Strong black tea is a bigger enemy.

  4. Alexis Gipson says:

    I have had rosacea for 4+ years. I have drank very strong tea all my adult life, Every single day, I don’t see a correlation for me between tea and worse rosacea. In my opinion, foods affect all rosacea sufferers differently. We just have to figure out our triggers.

  5. Tom says:

    I have been an avid coffee drinker since the age of twelve, I’m 47 now and dealing with severe rosacea for almost 10 years. Luckily PDL keeps in in check.

  6. Mistica says:

    My experience is, coffee is the enemy in disguise. A cup or two can certainly act as a vasoconstrictive agent and calm the face, but it doesn’t take long for rebound to set in. I have researched caffeine as much as I possibly can and have come to the conclusion that acute intake differs greatly from chronic intake. Studies support this. Caffeine is a drug and like other drugs with addictive potential, caffeine upregulates receptors. In this case, adenosine receptors. Adenosine potentiates vasodilation among other things. Caffeine is an antagonist, ie it docks into the receptor preventing the usual vasodilative actions. It also has other biological actions including interfering with GABA.

    I used to use coffee/caffeine as a tool during the years when my flushing was extremely severe. Without it my face would flush and swell beyond belief, but I could see I was addicted. It was a bit like Mirvaso when the hit wore off, my flushing was worse.
    It got to the point I had to have a fix before bed in order to get through the night without severe flushing, eventually the hit didn’t last long enough and I needed more and more to the point sleep was interrupted. I decided I had to quit, which I did gradually but 3 days after my last cup, my face flushed severely and swelled for around 5 days. I looked a mess, but fortunately by that time I had found a regime which helped my body adapt and recover leaving me with less severe rosacea and less severe flushing.

    Like with all addictions, once the Ship, SS Caffeine stopped docking into the adenosine receptors, which by that time had been increased in number, the rebound vasodilation was extreme, because (for example) instead of there being 20 ports into which normal biological actions could dock, there was now (for example) 80 ports, thoroughly increasing vasodilation. It was like a hose had been turned in on my face. I also experienced headaches and leg/hip pain.
    But once the rebound was over, and my body adjusted I felt much better and my flushing symptoms were more manageable.

    I realise caffeine is healthful in many ways and according to some scientists, it improves mitrochondrial function. My demented mother seems to benefit from it, but I believe that generally, caffeine is not healthy for rosaceans/flushers and even when it seems it may be helping in the short term, I suspect it may be having adverse effects even if they are not overt.

    Looking back I suspect my dabbling in coffee prior to the onset of flushing, may have contributed to it.

    As for the latest study. I am not impressed at all. Alas.

  7. Cindy says:

    So drinking pop is a no no dmfor Rosacea??? Not even one glass a day?

  8. Ollie says:

    I’m suspicious of the study too. But to be honest, when I have a coffee I have at least 3 sugars and milk… both of which are also very bad for my skin.

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