Figuring out Your Skin's Triggers: Here's How I Did It

If you know anything about my issues with rosacea, you know that identifying my triggers has been a long, painful process and still continues over a year later. Whether you suffer from rosacea, psoriasis or acne it doesn’t really matter, there is something triggering your skin and getting to the bottom of it is key. Here’s how I went about identifying out my main triggers…

When I first figured out that something was going on, I looked at every product that came near my face (think laundry detergent, moisturizer, etc.) to see if I had made any recent changes that could explain the irritation. Nothing.

If it wasn’t anything I was putting on or near my face, it had to be something I was eating so I started diving deep into every irritant I could find. Dairy came up over, and over, and over again so that’s where I started. Wouldn’t you know the very next day after I stopped consuming dairy my skin got noticeably better! (Note, my skin or gut must be very sensitive because most people do not react this quickly – reactions can normally lag for days or weeks after consumption so don’t get frustrated if you take a bit longer!) Armed with the knowledge that dairy was causing some, if not all, of the issue I figured I could just eliminate it and all my issues would be gone. Honestly, though, I really like my dairy. This meant I had to get to work playing around with different types and amounts to see if I could find a manageable combination.

This strategy resulted in some interesting results. I found that certain dairy products had bigger impacts on my skin and also that the amount and consistency I was consuming it all played a part. So for example putting milk in my coffee – no matter how little – destroys my skin, but I can eat small quantities of cheese with no problem unless I eat it for several days in a row and then it will start showing up on my skin. My worst triggers so far are very random (to me at least): milk, goat cheese and buttercream. Most other dairy I can have in small quantities with no problem.

I learned all of this through trial and error over the course of months. I was lucky in that my skin shows the results of my dairy intake very quickly – if yours does not, it might be worth keeping a food diary for a few weeks until you can start pinpointing what your specific triggers are. Here is a list of potential triggers from the National Rosacea Society (hint: it’s just about everything!) and here is a list of potential triggers from the National Psoriasis Foundation (a slightly smaller list but still pretty long.)

While I am now confident that dairy accounts for a large portion of my triggers, exposure to sunlight and stress also causes issues for my skin. I have decided not to completely eliminate dairy from my diet (I like it way too much) or to live in the shade so to manage my rosacea I use the LED light. I have found that if I use it before I know I will be exposed to my triggers, I can mostly avoid a flare-up or at the very least the outbreak is much smaller and I can make it go away pretty quickly. To start, I did the one month protocol (12 sessions) and then I used it a few times a week as I was playing around with my diet to figure out what I could tolerate. Now that I mostly have my diet under control, I can use the LED once a week or once every other week to keep my skin clear.

This whole process has been very eye opening as I am not sure I ever paid this much attention to the day-to-day impact my food choices have on my body. If you are interested in learning more, there are two books I really like:

  • Integrative Nutrition: feed your hunger for health & happiness by Joshua Rosenthal

  • How not to die: discover the foods scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease by Michael Greger

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. When making changes to your health and wellness routines it may be advisable to consult with your physician before proceeding.