How I Lost 40 Pounds and Banished Rosacea Using Primal Principles

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Like many others who’ve jumped on the Paleo/Primal eating concept, I didn’t quite start following the regimen for weight loss. My issues stemmed from the life halting condition (which I believe to be an autoimmune condition) rosacea. For those who aren’t familiar with the condition, rosacea is an inflammatory skin disease known to have an effect on facial flushing and redness. In my case, it got to be pretty bad. Now to most people, including family and friends, this wasn’t such a big deal. So I had a bit of redness going on in my face… so what? Everyone flushes from time to time. But for me, it was an incredibly life halting experience that, for the time I had it, completely derailed my entire life.

I’ll hereby state that my condition was, in all likelihood, entirely inflicted by me. In my senior year of high school, I got swept away in the idea of gaining weight, building muscle and power-lifting. I made the jump all the way from 140 up to 180. I “beefed” or “bulked” up as some of my friends referred to it, but in all honesty, I was just getting fat. None of it was lean muscle. I don’t recall where my train of thought was at the time, but some foreign instinct told me to keep eating. Bad idea. At one point or another, I stopped caring about ‘what’ I was eating and was just shoving food in my mouth every two to three hours to “preserve muscle.” I was far too swept away in my own world of “Broscience” to listen to anyone else’s nutritional advice. But I still ate my whole grains and stayed hydrated, so I was being healthy, right? It’s ironic that the whole wheat/low-fat, FDA heart healthy diet is the one that eventually did me in. Over the course of a year, it hit.

Let it be clear. I absolutely HATE these pictures, but I’m sharing them with everyone because I don’t want to hide the truth of how bad it was. Look up a definition of “inflammation” in the dictionary, and you might find my pictures. If I can come back from this, I feel anybody can, especially those with a mild case.

Yeah, it was bad… So as it became worse, I checked in with my dermatologist and doctor. The provided diagnosis was always, “You have dry skin, apply this cream,” and “Your skin is too oily, use this harsh chemical on your face.” Over time, I just became fed up with it. None of the creams worked. Some of them masked the symptoms to some degree, while others made them ten times worse. I wasn’t getting anywhere and this had me frustrated and about ready to give up. Self-loathing started to creep in. I was afraid to look in the mirror some days. I declined certain social events based on the status of my skin. I couldn’t look at someone and have a conversation without contemplating what my skin looked like from his or her perspective. My once robust self-confidence had been gut-shot. I became reclusive and shy. Every time I went into the sun I got sunburned. I was told there was absolutely no cure for rosacea and I’d have it forever. I was going to have to live with this embarrassing inflammation for the rest of my life.

Then I started noticing something. Every time I ate, it caused a flair up, or at least some type of small reaction with my rosacea. It became a habit of mine to routinely check how my skin reacted to certain foods. Any processed foods, foods that came in a box, or something with 3,000 ingredients – flare up. Bread, flare up. Dairy, flare up. Vegetable oils, flare up.

Slowly I began eliminating things from my diet. I kept this up for the better part of a year. My skin was getting better, but I was still nowhere near coaxing it back to its pre-rosacea state. I’d eat the same exact foods everyday as a precaution to not set off my rosacea. I literally ate nothing but lean turkey, sweet potatoes, and olive oil for almost half a year! I couldn’t live like this, but I had to find something that worked. I was getting closer to the root of the problem, but this wasn’t sustainable, nor a healthy way to live.

I was at the end of my road. Eventually I found out about gluten intolerance and paleo eating, or what I refer to now as just, “Eating food that is nourishing to my body, opposed to destroying it.” I’ll make the grand statement right here: Adapting to a high-fat/lower carbohydrate, paleo way of eating has pretty much, if not entirely, cured me of my rosacea. Why? Even after curing it, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why rosacea comes on, but I believe, like most diseases, it starts within the gut. I think my particular case was a mixture of immune system problems, intestinal permeability, poor nutrient absorption, and SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). Rosacea is just a sign of a deeper problem within the GI tract that needs to be corrected. Thankfully, the body is always trying to heal itself and when you take out the crap, you allow it to do so.

So goodbye rosacea and autoimmunity! I won’t miss you! Truthfully, this article stands as a final farewell to my condition. I’m done obsessing over my skin the way I have the past three to four years. My skin is never going to be perfect, but I need to stop thinking I can make it perfect. I’m ready to start embracing and enjoying my life again! I’m ready to tackle any opportunity that comes at me, and with rosacea, I felt I could not do this. I read a thread the other day on a separate rosacea forum entitled, “What would your life have been like had you not been diagnosed with rosacea.” What people posted was genuinely tragic and upsetting to me. People declining job opportunities, living housebound sheltered lives and ignoring intimacy, marriage, and children just because of this stupid condition. This thread was so heartbreaking to me; I felt I had to share my success story with others in the hope that I could help other people. As exciting as it is to share individual success, my biggest hope is that it reaches someone and saves them from the same trap I fell into. With that said, I’m done obsessing over the status of my skin and letting it control my life. Even with my condition in total remission, I’m still hung up on what my skin looks like on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I want to tell myself, “Dude, relax. You’ve put it behind you! Now move forward and don’t look back!” So I’m doing that. Once again, goodbye rosacea! ?

Additionally here are some tips or steps to follow for those who are dealing with rosacea. This is how I healed my body. I’m not going to tell you to avoid hot baths, saunas, hot weather, cold weather, spicy foods (unless you’re nightshade sensitive), etc… the typical rosacea recommendations. I don’t feel those things should play into it.

  • The Paleo Mom’s Autoimmune Protocol – I’m a really big fan of The Paleo Mom’s site and all she does. If I ever feel as if I’m having inflammation issues, I always have The Autoimmune Protocol to fall back on and it keeps all those issues at bay.
  • Eliminate Gluten, Grains & Legumes Entirely (This is a Biggie) – Never cheat with gluten. Ever! Your body will heal when you eliminate gluten, but will continue to relapse if you cheat with it from time to time. There’s no moderation here, just take it out. Every time you eat it, you’re setting yourself back and opening yourself up to a host of food allergies. Gluten is the gateway food allergy. I truly think any food intolerance I’ve ever had (dairy, nightshades, nuts) originally stemmed from gluten. Most people find that without gluten for an extended period of time, their food allergies heal. Gluten can take anywhere from a few weeks to two years to leave the system. Its effects on the gut can be devastating. When attending social events, don’t let anyone persuade you to, “just have a little.” Without gluten and grains, I’ve become free from auto-immunity at last. I’m not going to let someone who has no concern over my condition set me back and ruin the progress I’ve made in my health. Also, look out for gluten cross reactors (for me, corn is one). Have I made it clear that I absolutely hate gluten?! Good.
  • Eliminate Dairy – At least for a while. I’ve tried reintroducing it with grass-fed butter and the like, but it’s hard to tell if it’s giving me gut problems or not. I don’t get flare ups immediately anymore so its effects are hard to pinpoint. I was diagnosed with lactose intolerance as a kid, so maybe that factors into it? I think the casein gives me problems too. Absolutely avoid low-fat dairy. It’s gross anyway.
  • Eliminate Vegetable Oils
  • Be Mindful of Your O3:O6 Ratio – I eat a lot of oily fish, mostly salmon and sardines. I haven’t tried supplementation yet, but I might incorporate cod liver oil at some point. Especially with the cold weather rolling in. Also, more red meat like beef and lamb. I tend to eat pork and chicken too, but just not as much as the former due to O6.
  • Try and Eat Grass Fed
  • Eat More Saturated Fat and More Fat in General! – Saturated fats regulate the immune system. Fat is my highest macronutrient, sometimes getting anywhere from 60-80% of my calories from it. In the case of SIBO, you have to starve off the bad bacteria in your small intestine. Adopting a high-fat/low-carb diet disallows the sugars to reach the bad bacteria crowding the small intestine.
  • Bone Broth!
  • L-Glutamine – Best source is food, but the supplemental powder form is good for intestinal health and can help repair the damage done. L-glutamine cured my “post-meal flush” that many people with rosacea experience.
  • Try Gaps and SCD (Specific Carbohydrates Diet) – A lot of people with rosacea have carbohydrate intolerance. This might have to do with SIBO, pancreatic issues, and insulin. I’m honestly not sure why we have such a problem with carbs. God knows I used to eat a lot of sugar on SAD (Standard American Diet). Starch like sweet potatoes are very healing to the gut, but not particularly your best option of choice when it comes to SIBO. I really love all vegetables and most fruits (blueberries, bananas, pears, cantaloupe), and I tend to limit my fruit anywhere from 0-2 pieces a day. Usually on the weekends I’ll eat some carbs in the form of sugar. I tolerate most paleo baked goods, but avoid stuff like agave nectar. Most days I’m in ketosis, but every once in a while I’ll do the paleo cookies, cakes, etc… Just make sure they’re higher in fat for SIBO.
  • Stack Up On Veggies (Low FODMAP if Your SIBO Issues Are Bad) – Really go for nutrient density here. I always eat my veggies with fat for maximum absorption.
  • Probiotics – The only probiotics I’ve experimented with are Bubbies Sauerkraut. Be careful with probiotics in the case of SIBO, as there are particular strains you might want to avoid that could make it worse. Soil based probiotics like Prescript-Assist Broad Spectrum seem like the best choice.
  • HCL – Work on stomach acid. You need more of it, not less. So wean yourself off the PPI/acid reducers if you’re on them. HCL, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut. Don’t restrict yourself from sea salt.
  • Sleep and Stress – I used to think these weren’t so important. VERY wrong. There’s a definite connection between the gut and stress and how much sleep you’re getting.
  • Don’t Scrub Your Skin Like it’s the Bathroom Floor – The best thing I ever did for my skin was to just leave it alone! Excessive exfoliating and washing only messes with your natural oil production and confuses your skin. The only thing I ever use on my skin is water and natural soaps.
  • Exercise – I used to do a lot of power-lifting, sometimes lifting six or several days a week. Key word: moderation. Don’t fry your central nervous system working out vigorously every single day of the week. Take the time to rest, sleep, and make sure your cortisol is well regulated. Excessive exercise and chronic cardio is a recipe for disaster. The attitude in fitness and bodybuilding nowadays is, “Push, Push, Push!!!” and “Work and train like a madman!” No. I’ve gotten better results with just keeping my diet in check and getting better sleep then I ever did spending hours in the gym.
  • Intermittent Fasting – Just don’t be constantly grazing on food or snacking spontaneously throughout the day. Fast every once in a while. Every so often, don’t worry about it. I usually eat three meals and a snack a day. Some days I just say, “Forget it,” and eat when I’m hungry. Nevertheless, stop the six to seven small meals a day advice.
  • Get Some Sun – Maybe it’s not the best to step into the sun if you’re very flared up, but we need vitamin D. Stop eating all the above-mentioned foods and you won’t get sunburned every time you expose yourself to the sun.
  • Finacea Gel – This is the only rosacea pharmaceutical product I can endorse. I do think it helps to some extent, but only by masking the symptoms. It’s not a cure and it’s certainly not enough to take your rosacea into remission. I use it, but if I had to choose between diet or medicinal cream, without hesitation, diet and gut health is vitally more important.

Basically, anything that’s good for your digestive and gut health is good for your rosacea!


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114 thoughts on “How I Lost 40 Pounds and Banished Rosacea Using Primal Principles”

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    1. Hi Rob, I have a similar (almost) success story with my rosacea following a gluten free and diary free diet after I met a homeopathetic MD dermatologist who has helped me beyond measure. Only in the last 3 weeks, my face has gotten red and puffy and I do not know why and am sad and hopeless in a way I haven’t felt since I began to heal over a year ago.

      Would you mind chatting with me offline, I have a million questions and would love to share my experience but am not comfortable doing so on this forum. My email is [email protected]. I would be so grateful if you would contact me.



  1. Awesome journey, I’m so happy for you! I started this diet for weight loss, but now that I’ve been on it for a few years, I stay on it for my skin! I can tell within a day or so if I’ve gone crazy on carbs because I’ll get a pimple! I’m always amazed to hear about the multitude of benefits this nourishing diet provides. Time to add rosacea to the list!

  2. I’ve been about 90% GF for the last year after being diagnosed with a thyroid disease. Thank you for the reminder I need to just go 100% and my body will thank me later!

    1. I am so happy for you and you look wonderful!

      I would suggest you try coconut oil instead of soap for cleaning your face. It works great to control my excema. Soap is so drying and kills beneficial bacteria.

      1. I recently started washing my face with coconut oil and it’s wonderful! I also have eczema and it’s getting better every day. I still have some slight irritation, but I’m no longer using hydrocortisone cream on my face and feeling much better knowing I’m not putting that on my face!

      2. Hey Sheri,
        Do you use straight coconut oil as a cleanser for your face or do you mix it with anything?
        Sounds like it might make a good moisturizer too:)

        1. Straight up! I use it all over as a moisturizer as well. My skin has never looked better….(I’m sure the diet helps that too ????).

        2. Eileen, I take crystalized honey and use it as “soap” in the shower on my face, then a little Doctor Bronners soap diluted with LOTS of water, then coconut oil when I’m done washing.
          Works well for me.

  3. Congratulations! I see you applied the “duck-lip filter” to the last shot 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing your story, it gives people hope. To me the before pictures don’t look that bad, but then you see the after pictures and the happiness and confidence that shine through are amazing! I find myself sometimes obsessing with not wanting to get sick again. When I do that, I just try take a deep breath and remember to enjoy my good health and not let any more life pass me by. Awesome story!

  5. Wow! your skin really looks great, and the tips at the end are valuable for all of us. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. Thank you for the detailed account Rob.
    Will be 3 years paleo coming this July.
    I occasionally cheat. When I do eczema flares.
    When I eat clean I fire on all cylinders! 51 yrs old/young
    Loving Paleo! Loving Life! Thank you Rob for sharing.
    Thank you Mark! My story coming soon. Grok On!

  7. Is SIBO something people with Rosacea have or was it an additional, separate problem that you had?

    1. SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth) can happen to anyone and sometimes be hard to diagnose-I got it after two courses of intense antibiotics that wiped out all of my good bacteria, allowing the bad ones (which feed off of gluten and FODMAP foods) to grow like crazy. It overwhelmed my system making me tired all the time, spontaneously vomiting, losing up to 10 lbs at a time and making me feel like no food would be okay for my system.

      After eating next thing I knew, 2- 3 hours later I looked pregnant from the internal pressure of the gas the bacteria leaves as a byproduct of eating the crap food I was trying to digest got to be too much. I had to carry a bag with me anytime I ate, knowing full well that in a few hours, I might have the sudden need to vomit. That happened to me in business meetings, on very crowded NYC trains, walking to work, out with friends, traveling…YUCK.

      A year later (and a few misdiagnoses by CW doctors) and I found out I needed to change my diet, started to take probiotics and overall started to feel okay again. No more spontaneous vomiting from the internal pressure 2 – 3 hours after eating!! YAY!

      1. I should also note that it was a naturopath who finally helped me and sent me to the proper specialists. She knew exactly what the problem was in a few minutes of talking about my symptoms when other “specialists” gave me perscriptions for drugs that only made my condition worse. No more masking symptoms-here’s to treating them! Thanks Naturopathy! 🙂

    2. Diane,

      I firmly believe SIBO, which also compromises the gut-lining and creates intestinal permeability, is what “initiates” the rosacea. A lot of people with rosacea state that have digestion problems such as IBS. I’ve done a lot of reading on IBS, and it’s really not a diagnosis at all. A physician will diagnosis you with IBS if you tell him you’re having a digestive issue, but they can’t figure out the cause. Science is not showing that most cases of “IBS”, whatever that really means, are actually SIBO.

      My rosacea started when I begun experiencing these IBS/ digestive disorder symptoms. It can sometimes be very subtle. Here are some of the typical SIBO symptoms.

      Excess Gas
      Excess Belching.
      Acid Reflux or GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)

      In my opinion, of you can fix your digestion and the above mentioned problems, you’re on your way to fixing your rosacea.

      1. Thank you for your response to me. My partner has occular rosacea, which is rosacea in the eye. He also has had some digestive issues. I have not converted him to paleo but he has cut down on the amount of sugar and wheat products he eats and I hear a lot less complaining about his eyes or his bowels and his indigestion. It would be nice to see what would happen with a full conversion.

        1. I’m such a believer at this point, I’d probably predict total remission! 🙂

          Although I only refer to the the wheat and grain products. I actually think “sugar”, which I just refer to carbohydrate, is essential to life.

          I’m a big fan of Keto for fixing these inflammation problems, but I’m not quite sure yet if it’s optimal, and for that matter, really necessary after a certain point.

  8. Thanks Rob – I really appreciate the detailed information about your recovery. Unfortunately, a strict 6-month paleo/ketogenic diet worsened my rosacea (diet was mostly lamb, lettuce, sardines, suet). At that time, I had ice packs on my face more often than not :(. But we’re all different – I’m (too) slender, female, and paid no attention to RDA for nutrients. At this point, I’m convinced my rosacea results from a histamine intolerance (via mast-cell dysregulation). Some things you mentioned, e.g. reducing sugar and omega-6 reduces PGE2 formation, and histamine intolerance. I’m hoping that Jaminet’s PHD-style diet (while also avoiding omega6, sugar and dairy), will result in less inflammation. But until then, my “cure” for after-meal flushes is TMG + niacin. Niacin reduces PGE2/histamine, and the TMG supplies methyl groups to the niacin. A mild niacin flush is very different from a rosacea flare, and causes little discomfort. In the rare case where niacin/TMG doesn’t work, or if I want to avoid the histamine flush, I take glycine to reduce the ‘anxiety/panic’ feeling. Thanks for the l-glutamine tip – I’ll give it another try.
    As for the probiotics, even Prescript-Assist increased my appetite, and causes me to wake up hungry. I’ve tested this several times. I thought I was crazy until I read a post from Bill Lagakos who described this as a ~common side-effect.
    Thanks again, and congratulations!!!

    1. Hey Julie,

      Are you on a completely GF diet? I think i’ve flirted with histamine intolerance in the past, but my food intolerances fade rapidly the longer I abstain from wheat. For me, A very small, almost negligible, amount of wheat brings back my food intolerances for months so if you’re not 100% GF, I recommend doing so and your histamine intolerance will most likely disappear.

      Another thing I forgot to stress in my post, that I really wanted to point out is: It’s not just important what you take out, but also what you add back in. I know I said be mindful about O6, but I’m mainly referring to vegetable oils. I think if you’re eating enough wild caught, omega-3 fish, you shouldn’t really have to work about how much O6 you’re getting from things like avocado, olive oil or bacon.

      I’ve taken a look at Paul Jaminet’s research on rosacea, but I can’t say I agree with it, at least not in with my case. For one, he recommends a hefty amount of starch and white rice, both of which are not good for SIBO, although you’ll most likely be able to add in the former at one point or another once the SIBO is under control. I’m not a big fan of pusdo-grains like white rice and definitely don’t recommend them for rosacea, or even in general. Simple sugars(glucose, fructose), opposed to starch, is very easily absorbed in the stomach and barely has time to reach the small intestine.

      Another thing I don’t understand is his recommendation against eating so much fish. I’ve had nothing but success by including lots of wild-caught, sometimes nearly raw, salmon in my diet. Prepare it with some saturated fat, veggies and some lacto-fermented probiotics, and that’s one gut-healing, inflammation fighting meal.

      1. thanks Rob! I’ve been gluten free for since ~2002, before it became fashionable ;). I was SO SO serious about ketosis and paleo – I didn’t eat out – I ate only meat/veggies, and all from scratch…except the sardines and Bariani olive oil ;). In hindsight, I think my downfall was either the sardines (high histamine), and/or ignorning the RDAs. I’ve tried salmon, but it invariably causes severe flushing/anxiety.
        I’m also conflicted about Jaminet’s PHD – since glucose raises PGE2 (inflammation), but he claims it’s important for mucous secretion and therefore a healthy digestive tract.
        I doubt I have SIBO, because I don’t have any digestive problems. Although a couple of things concern me: I can take over 20 HCL tablets with a protein meal, and not feel a thing; and if I add 5+ Tbsp of ACV to my salads, I do burp. (I love ACV).
        Since I read your initial post, I was inspired (thank you!) and decided to try the reduced-glucose diet again, this time with cronometer. I replaced the white rice (1/2-2/3 cup per day) with cucumber, summer squash, or green papaya. It’s only been 2 days, but I’m already noticing less reaction from taking the niacin. (The niacin is a great barometer for measuring inflammation.) I really should get a blood glucose meter!
        Thanks again for the detailed information, and continued success!

        1. I don’t eat out at restaurants, and do all of my cooking myself. Some might perceive this as OCD behavior, but it’s really the sacrifice you have to take if you’re trying to heal from state of inflammation, boarding on auto-immunity. Even if you request a special order, no one is looking out for your food issues more then you are. I have buddies who work at fast-food pizza shops who’ve admitted that (and this probably goes for all places) their “gluten free” pizzas aren’t really GF. They use the same utensils, appliances etc.., so cross-conamination is pretty much guaranteed, if albeit a really small amount.

          You sound like you’re eating only so many foods. Have you ever tried coconut products? I can’t believe I forgot to include this, but coconut products are a HUGE part of my diet, especially oil and milk. Both are incredibly crucial for SIBO and solving intestinal permeability.

          I think a big part of why people fail on keto-genic diets, is because they’re still scared to eat a lot of fat. I should emphasize that I eat A LOT of fat, mostly saturated. I make coconut whipped cream using a whole can of coconut milk and honey. Make sure you’re eating more then just olive oil. You know how some people do “carb ups?” I find it extremely beneficial towards my skin to do what I call “fat-ups.”

          I should also mention that on my keto-days, I’m basically zero carbing it. My only net carbs com from the mostly green vegetables I eat. Always consult a specialist first, but you might want to try a VLC diet for awhile, even things like butter-nut squash could me problematic.

        2. Yeah, tried coconut. For about a month, 90%+ of my calories were from coconut. I could buy coconut from a local grocer that was a stage between the young thai and the mature brown – I call is ‘juvenile’ ;). It still had a lot of insoluble fiber, which can cause bloating if you eat 2k+ calories of it, so I bought a fancy juicer ($400+) to juice the coconuts. It came out like coconut cream – AMAZING. But it never helped my rosacea nor the heart palpitations after eating it. I feel much better with fresh beef from my local butcher.

  9. Great story! I, too, have some rosacea. Delighted you got yours under check!

  10. Thanks so much for your great story and advice! I’m in the same boat you were in and your tips are very helpful!

  11. Great story! Congratulations on your wonderful success! Thanks for sharing your journey with us, and for all the tips.

  12. Excellent story. I absolutely agree with virtually everything you’ve said here…including (but not limited to) the discussion of compulsive workouts. It is really easy, when you’ve sculpted your body, to think “more is better”, and you become addicted to the workout regime. Funny thing is…not only do you boost cortisol production (and risk rosacea flare-ups), but you miss out on other things that are more fun (playing in the outdoors, for one…).

    Good stuff. It’s interesting as hell how frequently we are now learning how the gut is really the gateway to health.

    And it’s pathetic as hell how the medical community will prescribe drugs (topical steroids, for example) for symptoms such as those you described…instead of teaching patients about gut health. That’s just sick…

  13. Thank you Mark and Rob for the inspiration. The Friday success stories are are great for those of us that are new to a primitive diet or considering making a full commitment. Hopefully I will go 100% and eventually have a story and some after pictures to share. It seems that almost everyone has some sort of “autoimmune” condition. That’s why many of us have found MDA.

    “Autoimmunity is the failure of an organism in recognizing its own constituent parts as self, thus leading to an immune response against its own cells and tissues. Any disease that results from such an aberrant immune response is termed an autoimmune disease.” – Source Wikipedia.

    Therefore the perfect human machine has a built in self destruct mechanism that is NOT influenced by environmental exposure. I don’t buy it! This gives the medical community the excuse to treat symptoms i.e. skin creams for rosacea and not seek the preventative measures Rob shared with us today. Many of us have been to MDs that send us off with the conclusion that our bodies are designed to cause itself physical harm and discomfort so take this prescription for the rest of your life. So we search the internet, find MDA, bearing the hope that there is a noninvasive protocol to minimize our built in “self-destruction” mechanism. There may be genetic markers that make some of us more susceptible to the various forms of “self destruction” than others. That is what we should be paying professionals for for rather than a prescribed remedy for the symptoms.

    Imagine if rosacea or eczema felt like a 3rd degree burn. I’m having issue right now and feel it was triggered by combination of nightshades and alcohol. I know what I’m not ingesting this weekend. I don’t need either to live. I can’t wait to be a success story or at least live a life without chronic joint pain.

    1. Good point Jack Lea, they’re not really *auto* immune at all, are they? Many of us seem to suffer “autoimmune” problems after eating, say wheat! So maybe it’s not us that’s the problem, maybe its the wheat!

  14. Love this story and all the info. My mom has rosacea and I’m sending her this article. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Thank you for sharing. I know of at least one person who would benefit from this condition. I will forward this to her and then we shall see if she’s ready to start the journey. Carbs are so difficult to quit for some people….. sigh.

  16. Great job, Rob! I can relate, before paleo I had eczema and psoriasis. How well I remember scheduling my personal life around the condition of my skin. I am so thankful those days are gone.

  17. Great story and awesome recommendations. I have/had minor rosacea along my outer jawline. It wasn’t out front and center so I never really noticed it until it started going away when I went Primal.

    Have you ever read into the oil cleansing method? It has done wonders for my skin but yeah, just like you most days I don’t wash my face at all – just some witch hazel in the morning, if that.

  18. Great story Rob. Congratulations. But don’t beat yourself over “getting fat”. No one puts on 40 pounds of fat and no muscle in a year with your eating and powerlifting schedule. I can tell by your before photos that you were solid. Not as lean now, but your neck and proportions in the before photos are not that of a fat person but of an athlete.

  19. I have struggled with Rosacea as well. I agree with what you mentioned about exfoliating. This is horrible on sensitive skin. Also pat on any creams or oils rather than rubbing into the skin. Getting out in the sun again really helped me ( my Rosacea began while we were living in New England). Once we moved to Colorado it cleared up. I do not think this is a coincidence. I also have to limit my consumption of Hatch chiles. I overdid it once and my skin paid.

    1. I’m so happy for you and the success you’ve had. You look very healthy, happy and confident.
      Your description of how your skin made you feel was exactly how I used to feel. My problem was acne and you described the horrible daily prison it keeps you in better than anyone. It feels amazing to leave that pain behind. I no longer dread the mirror or worry about how my skin looks to others. ( I eat Paleo)
      Imagine how many people you have helped. Enjoy your new life!

  20. This is a great story, congratulations, and thank you very much for sharing it. you look great now, and your skin looks like that of a healthy person!!

    I have Rosacea as well, but am so confused, because I don’t have the “typical” Rosacea that I read about like yours, with the flushing, flares, etc. Mine is a constant low level of redness that never goes away, and the textural changes in my skin are actually what worry me more-very large pores and thickening of the skin. I am a female, so feel lucky that my makeup covers my redness well, yet it is obviously does nothing to help my long term appearance, or my overall health.

    I share your dissapointment with your dermatologist experiences-I often suspect the harsh topicals do more harm than good-and all of the dermatologists I’ve been to have just looked at my skin for about a second upon entering the room (one from ACROSS the examination room-she didn’t even come close to me to actually examine my skin) and then just write several prescriptions with little else said.

    As thankful as I am for people who devote their lives to the medical profession, it is scary how often we are misled by the information they are taught. I was diagnosed with mild Mitral Valve Prolapse as a young girl, and as a result was required to take ridiculous amounts of antibiotics both before and after my 2x/yr dental appointments. This went on for years until the official recommendations for dosage were lessened and then revoked for those with mild cases.

    I also have IBS symptoms, and though I have that largely under control, it is still a constant low level concern in my life. I have started suspecting both problems are are related to autoimmune issues, but also often wonder how much was affected by early and misguided antibiotic use.

    I have been hesitant to try the paleo/primal diet as I feel that standard gluten-filled items like plain white bread and pasta have actually “soothed” my stomach when it was at its worst-which further confuses me.

    Anyhow, I am rambling now, but I think your post may be the final push I needed to go from learning about the Primal/Paleo lifestyle to actually participating. I have always been thin and pretty fit, so trying “diets” was always a foreign idea to me, but I realize this it a total lifestyle shift and not a diet.

    1. Good luck, Amy! Just tell yourself you’ll give it a month. Commit to trying it for 30 days. It’s not like eating only nutrient-dense foods for a month is bad for you, right? That’s how I rationalized starting.There is no down side to trying a month and seeing how you feel. (Spoiler alert: most of us never look back.)

    2. Amy, if you read my story on MDA from two weeks ago you will see that I also didn’t go Primal for weight loss. I just wanted to be healthy, and I am so much better now than when I started. Going Primal is the best thing that you could ever do for yourself.

    3. I was in your boat Amy. Eventually the low level of issues compiled until I hit 29 and well… I was more than just a little off mentally and physically. I was “normal” compared to others around me but overall, to me, this didn’t seem like it should be normal. My tolerance for pain is was extremely high so it took a drastic change to know what life was like without ANY pain. I never did a fad diet before until I did a sugar detox and saw such a difference that I changed my lifestyle diet and well being. Try a sugar detox/primal challenge/paleo/whole30/grain free life for 30 days. It doesn’t cure everything in 30 but if it changes one thing for the better it means it could change a lot more in time. Good Luck!

  21. Thank you Rob. I’m almost in tears after reading your story twice now. I have Rosacea and am struggling. I feel more hopeful and have some great tips to go research thanks to you.

  22. Great work Rob. Congratulations man. This is one of the better Friday success stories I’ve read. I certainly appreciate the extra mile you went in giving advice to all of us readers.

    Keep up the great work, man.

  23. I do so wish I could have read your testimonial YEARS ago as I was very sad with rosacea myself, and so cool to hear somebody else has benefited from this life and shared! I also have enjoyed a wonderful remission and often go without foundation. I had a stinky sulphur-smelling gel that just depressed me. Stinkyface ALLLL day. I want to share your story on all the rosacea forums! I used to want to cry. I think I did cry.

    1. Please do!

      There’s so much faux, mis-information about rosacea on the internet. Most sources actually recommending eating tons of whole grains and avoiding red meat!

      For people having trouble with red meat, or beef, here are my three theories as to maybe why.

      1. Low Stomach Acid

      2. It’s not the beef. It’s what it’s been seasoned/marinated with. Most often, especially if you’re eating out or not cooking it yourself, meat gets marinated with certain spices. Most conventional brands have either wheat, corn, or nightshades as apart of their ingredients… sometimes all three.

      4. This is mostly unheard of, but you might actually have an intolerance to beef. It will go away once you’ve been on a wheat/grain free diet for awhile.

  24. Go you! I am so happy for your whole body success! Primal has changed how I look at my diet too! Such a blessing for all of us! Also, thanks so much for providing all of the extra tips. You’ve really done your homework!

  25. Rob, Glad you got it all figured out, good for you! I’ve had some friends impact their skin symptoms being primal as well. Thanks for sharing

  26. Can just feel the change in your attitude/confidence in the last two pictures. So happy for you:))

  27. Man, good job. Glad to hear that the paleo way of eating helped with rosacea. I’ve had a few friends with rosacea, but I don’t think they would be open to following the paleo way of eating.

    I have canker sores, which are an autoimmune response. Reading these stories I wonder if something I’m eating is causing me to have outbreaks?

    Long ago I eliminated commercial toothpaste, and that helped with outbreaks immensely.

    1. I use to have 1 to 2 a week. I published my success story a few months back and that was one of the many items I didn’t include that went away. I have had one in the course of a year and it was due to my travels and lack of primal adherence. Tough to do on the road but I’m learning better ways to stay primal and I haven’t had one since.

    2. Definitely possible – my mother always used to get canker sores after eating raw citrus or strawberries. Basically any really acidic fruit would do it.

      1. From an auto-immune point of view the only questionable foods in my diet are eggs, 90% chocolate, coffee, pecans, and xylitol.

        I’d like to keep all of those foods, but if I want to rid myself of canker sores I’d have to eliminate one and then go until I had a canker sore. Eliminate another, and then go again.

        1. I’ve had canker sores my whole life. Sometimes huge bad ones. Until I went Primal, that is. Haven’t had one in months.
          Causes usually included acidic food or mouth irritation. Biting my cheeks would do it all the time.
          Lately, none of this has caused sores. I’ve always believed them to be a result of a virus that comes out at some times. The big change was when I started fasting periodically. Maybe once a week or so for around 20 hours at a time. After a few such fasts, I noticed the sores were not coming back, despite mouth trauma. Maybe fasting-induced body-repair mode caused my body to kick the virus or whatever the source was?? Don’t know. But I know there has been a real improvement.

    3. I have never heard of canker sores being “an autoimmune response” but I have a hard time believing it. I haven’t had one in years, but I only got them when ingesting a lot of acidic things (soda and fruit juices for example), and they went away promptly if I simply ate a bunch of probiotic yogurt. This makes it seem a whole lot more like something just related to the gut biome frankly.

  28. Your passion for healing yourself and the happiness and positive attitude you currently seem to possess are inspiring and infectious. All the best to you! How wonderful to have found all this knowledge and have been willing to apply it at such a young age. Go forth and live!

  29. Hey everyone, Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m working on a follow up to this, and I’m looking forward to answering some of the questions people have submitted ASAP.

    I sent Mark a bunch of photo. Here is a few more:

  30. Healthy skin starts in the gut and your tips are spot on! I wish dermatologists everywhere would get on board, it would have saved so many of us from years of struggles.

  31. Great job! I also suffered from rosacea. This was my primary reason for beginning my paleo journey, which started with the Whole 30, 1.5 years ago. Like you, I am now completely symptom free. The only time I catch glimpses of it anymore is if my overall carbohydrate intake exceeds about 120g per day. I’ll give a shout out for one more natural product that helped me symptomatically. That product is Prosacea. But, I’ve got two unopened tubes in the cabinet because my diet completely cleared it up!

    1. Ducan,

      I’m very happy to say that I no longer have carbohydrate intolerance. I like to stick to a keto-genic anywhere from 5-6 days a week and in the initial stages I did nearly zero-carb for a month or two, but I no longer have problems with carbohydrates… unless I really really over due starch. Some of our users might not agree with this because everyone seems to be on an “anti- sugar crusade”these days haha , but I tolerate sugars of all kind a lot better then carbs that have to be “broken down”(sweet potatoes). So Honey, Maple Syrup, coconut palm, Cane Sugar… If you’re still having problems with carbs on certain days, I recommend eating them with fat. As a preventive measure, I always eat my sugars with fat so they don’t reach the small intestine. It’s also good for insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control since the sugars are released slowly.

  32. Rob,
    Thank you for sharing your rosacea experience.
    The experience for me was much the same. There were days that the flush burned so bad that the idea of taking a garden rake to my face would have seemed like the only relief. The MD wasn’t much help; prescribed a tube of goop that didn’t accomplish much. The Dermatologist wasn’t much help either; another prescription and advise to avoid alcohol, sun and whatever seemed to cause a flair. After a few false starts with dietary changes and reading stories on the rosacea boards where people were having limited success the next move was to make a full on effort to go Paleo. It’s been 1.5 yrs since even a mild pink face or skin texture changes. All those strategies you listed read like a how-to on defeating rosacea. Happy to say that it is even now possible to enjoy a glass of wine with no ill effects.
    It is tremendous that others are inspired by your story to follow suit and that there are so many readers of MDA who are going to reach out to family and friends that need the help – with the link to this page; you guys & gals rock! Hopefully many more people will be ex-rosacea suffers after this. Thanks Rob. Thanks Mark.

    1. Vaun,

      So glad you’ve also has success! I know what you mean when you talk about false starts dietary changes. In the beginning, every doctor I ever spoke to told me there was no correlation between my diet and skin health, nor did they mention wheat/gluten and dairy could be problematic. With so much mis-information out there, it took me awhile to really get a good understanding of the info I posted. I hope it reaches far and wide to everyone struggling 🙂

  33. Thank you so very much for your story. I never ceased to be amazed at how a proper diet can be such an effective tool in getting our health back regardless of what it is we are fighting. I personally never had any issues with rosacea, but could write books about other issues which ended up going away just by watching what I eat (aka: Paleo style).

    What I think is really interesting is that a problem that manifests itself on your face or on your skin could be caused by something we eat! We always think that eating will cause a digestive issue, but don’t really correlate it to problems elsewhere on our bodies.

    Your post was so informative and I loved the hints/tips that you posted as well. Your determination to find a reason for your problems plus the willingness to not listen to CW make your journey even more worthwhile. All the very best to you.

  34. Awesome post Rob. One of the bwtter success stories I have read. Definitely the most informative. Thanks

  35. Awesome change and inspiring journey! The advice you give is very helpful, too! My husband suffers from eczema, and it’s getting worse and worse… I wish he would listen to me about it all beginning in his gut!

    Keep up the lifestyle – health suits you well! 😀

  36. Hi Rob,

    I just wanted to let you know that I had some serious rosacea/orofacial dermatitis going on a couple of years ago and had suffered with acne since I was 12 ( I am now 34). I couldn’t figure out what was going on because I was following a mostly primal diet and doing everything “right.” I finally went to the dermatologist and she basically told me it was, “due to aging. Everybody has their thing. Get over it . . . or if it really bothers you, here is a low-dose anti-biotic, which mimics a steroidal anti-inflammatory.” I said, “No thanks.”

    I ended up doing a bunch of research and turns out there is a “caveman regimen” for your skin. You basically don’t wash your face for at least a month. No cleansers and no scrubbing. It also turns out that I am very sensitive to fluoride so I switched to a no-fluoride, no sulfate toothpaste.

    I would have thought this was crazy if I hadn’t been so desperate. I was the person who would religiously-even if it was two in the morning after a party- wash my make up off every night and wash my face every morning-per all of CW advice. It was really hard to throw all of that out the window.

    As I write this, I have the clearest, healthiest looking skin I have had since I first started getting acne.

    I am Catholic and I took Kateri Tekakwitha as my confirmation name because her feast day is on my birthday. She is also the patron saint of skin ailments. My dad saw me after I had done this regimen for 2 months and he said it was a miracle that should be attributed to her because my skin looked that different. I am not trying to prosthletysize, but that is how much my skin improved.

    So when Mark talks about taking showers with only a wash cloth and nothing else (no soaps, cleansers, shampoos), he isn’t joking.

    Just wanted to share because, as anyone with a skin ailment knows, this was life-changing for me. You should be able to find this by googling “caveman regimen for skin/acne.” The best part is this is totally free, which is probably why it is never recommended by doctors or companies.

    Good luck!


    1. Hey Amanda,

      I had a dermatologist give me the same old “you’re getting older, and your skin is changing spiel.” It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

      Even though I am using a bit of dove soap at the moment, It’s hard for me to put into words how little I really use. My skin can get a “tad” bit oily towards the end of the day, so my only real reason for using it is too kind of strip those oils away while making sure I don’t dry it out. If you use anymore then a minimal amount of soap, this is very easy to do, making your skin appear more inflamed.

      However, It’s actually pretty funny how little exterior treatment of my skin matters in the grand scheme things. In my case, it’s more of reflection of digestive/interior health. It has less to do with how I’m treating my skin and more of what I’m putting into my body. When people ask me what my skin regimen was to fix it, they’re kinda shocked that I tell them I literally did nothing. I just left it alone. No fancy products. Nothing.

      Another thing I’ll say works for me is letting myself stay sweaty after doing some HIIT sprints. It’s actually pretty hard for me to sweat these day’s if I’m not outside in 100 degree weather doing sprints, but when I do, I don’t take a shower immediately after my workout. This always benefits my skin.

      I think we’re learning more and more that excess washing, shampooing, exfoliating, is not only pointless, but also detrimental.

      But like I said before, I really do think that skin health is largely a reflection of inner-digestive health, gut-flora and Immune system heath, and how well we’re absorbing nutrients… For me, it doesn’t have much to do with how I treat my skin.

      1. A primal diet pretty much cured my ulcerative colitis, for which i am forever grateful, but my skin problem was a combo, and even with a near “perfect” diet, my skin was still pretty bad. It was only after making changes internally AND externally that I saw a real difference. You can have a great diet, but if you are destroying your skin’s acid mantle with external products, you may still have issues. My comment was mainly to share so others might benefit.

        Glad everything has worked out for you.

  37. Inspiring success story, Rob. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks to the folks who’ve shared their own rosacea stories/tips in the comments. I’ve had a flair up over the past few months, for which my doctor prescribed some prohibitively expensive topical cream (a prescription which, thus far, I’ve not had filled). This gives some hope that if I finally can get serious about the primal/paleo approach, I may see some relief.

  38. This was really nice to read. I got rosacea right before my wedding. In my case fairly sensitive skin combined with stress (wedding), taking up golf and riding a motorcycle just hit me hard. Once the process started there was no going back. For years at least I could wear makeup. My worries had to do with the long term degeneration of the symptoms and the fact that you could see it in my eyes, which meant I looked overly tired and/or high a lot. My rosacea has certainly improved with a Paleo diet, and there is definitely food reactivities (dairy, gluten, sugar in general). In my case – and I wonder if this is true for some of the people who have found that dietary changes had little effect – stress was a huge contributor too, that and lack of sleep. Between eating well, following advice from Liz Wolfe’s Skintervention book and managing stress the skin manifestations are well managed. My eyes still get red very easily, but I can live with that. Nice to read up on this, because there is not that much information about it, and you are right, conventional advice is like a death sentence, “be prepared to live with it forever, don’t eat spicy, don’t go in the sun, don’t work out too much, don’t get too hot, try to not get flushed, don’t eat night shades and use these cremes and antibiotics forever!”

  39. Rob,
    This is so thorough and well-written. I totally appreciate highly articulated personal experiences such as this, as well as the honesty and courage to lay out your truth (in photos as well as in words). You are correct, it does inspire others and makes those who might hesitate to “go for it” realize they are not the only ones who struggle and that, little by excruciatingly little, you can heal yourself through healthier food choices.
    Having suffered horrible cystic acne from teens to mid-30s I can relate to the frustration and self-consciousness such skin issues cause.
    Bravo to you and your journey in health and wellness and thank you for sharing!

  40. Rosacea runs in the family for me. Mine has been becoming worse over the years since I was 12. Many people around me don’t know this is skin condition- and like to tell me, “Wow! Your face is red!”, or if I’m at a party, “Are you drunk?” Of course, I want to say, “This is a skin condition. It’s genetic. I can’t help it,” but that makes people awkwardly apologetic, and then they avoid me. Instead I pretend to laugh and say, “Really? Nah, I’m not drunk.”

    It’s been wearing on self-esteem.

    If a Paleo diet would really help, then I’ll give it a try.

  41. Yours was a timely article for me, Rob, as I have lately been searching the web for possible causes of my recent rosacea flareups. I, too, have become frustrated by the often contradictory nature of the “advice” and “expert” opinions. It’s also disheartening to read about there being no cure, especially since that’s so hard to believe given that our bodies, given what they need, are driven to cure themselves.

    Even before discovering the Paleo/Primal lifestyle, I ate almost 100% organic and, since learning about grassfed vs. conventional about two years ago (I shudder to think I once bought meats from a grocery store rather than local farms), I never ever eat any meat that has not been fully pastured. I gave up grains once learning about Paleo, although I hadn’t eaten pasta for years, but my thing was whole grain Ezekiel bread with peanut butter (hard to have to have given up my lifelong love of PB), and as a Greek raised typically on a Mediterranean diet with lots of olive oil (and, unbelievably, at times corn oil (that, of course, included mouth-watering Greek pastries such as baklava–and the Greeks don’t spare sugar all that much), I’ve felt I’ve lived a very healthy life (I’m now 64). Back in the day, I bought into the whole margarine instead of butter and skim rather than full-fat–but only for a while once I considered that all we Greeks grew up on butter, full-fat yogurt/milk, yummy fat leg of lamb, etc., and the majority of my Greek relatives lived well into their 90s, a few reaching 100+, so I went back to butter and whole milk, but I still prepared and ate various beans, lentil soup and the now-dreaded whole wheat bread. I gave up the grains immediately upon learning how and what we humans evolved to eat.

    I now eat local pastured meats and wild caught fish, mostly Sockeye Salmon, free-range eggs (from my neighbor whose chickens often make it over to my yard), but–and I know it’s a big BUT for Paleo, I do drink raw milk as I believe the benefits outweigh the potential for carb-related risks, and I use much of the milk to make kefir and whey/cream cheese. I avoid processed foods, but I do treat myself now and then to the 85% dark chocolate, a purportedly healthy choice, and I’m sticking to that!!

    So…and, here’s the crux of the matter: I’ve recently noticed (during the past few months) a significant flare-up of rosacea (which had pretty much remained dormant even while eating grains) with its dreadful accompanying acne (though the acne was not severe). And, so, throwing my arms up in despair, I ask myself how it can be that I’m eating even healthier than before, yet here I am burdened by rosacea again! I, too, along with eating great amounts of coconut oil, use the coconut oil to cleanse and moisten my face. There are days the rosacea settles down and, as I write, the acne has resolved itself; but, all in all, I’m at a loss to explain the cause other than to hypothesize that my flare-ups are primarily the result of STRESS, particular since I first experienced the rosacea at 40 years of age, during which time my mother was diagnosed with cancer (my father having died a few years earlier), a time undeniably characterized by great stress and grief, eventually leading to a severe anxiety disorder, all while raising two teens and having recently given birth to my son. I’d always thought I handled stress well, but when stress escalates to this particular degree, it becomes all consuming.

    After my mom died and the grieving gave way to acceptance, I began to heal emotionally (although was then going through a divorce), and my rosacea went into remission, so to speak, although I seemed always to have a red nose–not the best area of the face given my ethnicity, lol.

    Bottom line for me I think is that my flare-ups are the result of being overly stressed and anxious (which is the case currently after having to go on disability due to Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (although mild compared with most), for which I was wrongfully fired from my job as a family counselor and rightfully compensated financially after over a year. Predictably, I developed another anxiety disorder since I was used to being busy and involved in life and also had to face knee surgery, etc., etc. Such is life! Despite stressful times, I don’t get sick (occasionally stomach upset if particularly anxious), and I have lots of energy.

    So, yeah, in my case, I think the primary culprit is STRESS or, at the very least, it exacerbates the rosacea. I’ve laid off the milk and associated products now and then just to see, and I’ve ruled that out. We make our own ice-cream and, yes, we add coconut palm sugar (not that I necessarily buy the hype re low glycemic, whatever that’s really supposed to indicate). I’ve noticed this past week, when I wasn’t experiencing symptoms of stress, that my rosacea (pretty much limited to cheeks and darned nose) has faded considerably.

    I just really don’t know for sure as seems to be the case with most of us so afflicted. I read somewhere that some little internal “critter” is thought to be the culprit–can’t recall the details–but I haven’t seen any science to back that up. I can’t imagine eating any healthier (and, yes, I know–dairy!!) and my carb level is typically low. I know I can’t blame the Paleo/Primal lifestyle since it’s who we are as a species, so I guess, for me, it’s about learning to relax as best as I can despite stressors that come and go. I want to make it to 100+ as well, but I don’t want to be thinking of Rudolph whenever I look in the mirror.

    I just love MDA and all the wisdom it imparts. Thanks again, Rob, for sharing your story. You look great! And thanks to you, Mark, for providing us with a wonderful forum in which to inquire about and express our concerns as well as offering the opportunity to be helpful to others.

    Keep on keepin’ on…


    1. Hey Maggie,

      Sorry for your losses, and it’s understandable the stress that comes with them. There’s a definite connection between low level CHRONIC stress and gut-inflamation.

      Don’t feel bad about eating chocolate. Contrary to the standard Rosacea advice, chocolate is a nutrient dense food loaded with magnesium, which is really good for your skin. I use cocoa for baking, and usually stick to 85 and up if I’m eating a bar. It CAN be problematic though if you’re eating “milk” chocolate and it contains soy and other offenders, so be careful.

      On the topic of Raw milk and dairy… It’s such a grey area. There’s a high possibility that I might have a legit intolerance to dairy products, as do most people suffering from Rosacea. The theory I WANT to beleive is that I’m not really lactose or casein intolerance, but rather just wheat intolerant and the wheat/gluten/grains open me up to all these food intolerances, and triggers the dairy problems.

      I know you said you’re a big fan of raw milk. I myself, have never tried it, but I’ve definitely researched the huge differences between raw vs pasteurized. The former held a really compelling argument that raw is easier to break down, and therefore like you said, beneficial. The only dairy I attempt to eat is grass-fed butter, because It taste great and it does have a very high nutrient profile. It also contains certain acid chains that are very gut healing supposedly. I’d like to try heavy whipping cream someday too, but I’m leaving it out for now.

      I know it’s not fun, but you may want to take dairy out for a month or two and see how you do. Those tiny proteins (Lactose/Casein) can be very tricky. You can try reintroducing it at a certain time, but be weary. Sometimes reintroducing a food you’re clearly intolerant to can trigger gut inflammation and set you back in your healing. I’m not sure if I’m really intolerant to it, but that’s the reason I’ve chosen to leave it out at the moment.

      As for the “critter” theory, which I believe they’re now referring to as “Demodex Mites.” I don’t believe. At least not for the standard “flushing/redness, acne vulgarism” type rosacea. I feel that yet again, it’s another scientific finding that’s focusing on the skin itself too much, and not gut and immune system health.

      1. Thanks, Rob, for addressing my concerns; it’s clear that you are genuinely determined to help others with their rosacea-related anxieties.

        In terms of raw milk (about which I, too, have done extensive research), it seems that many of those who are lactose intolerant are able to tolerate raw milk as it contains the lactase enzyme which most of us lose after infancy and which is nevertheless destroyed by pasteurization (a process which most certainly “inflames” me). Also, much intolerance seems to be due to the A1 type of beta casein found most exclusively in the Holstein breed, that breed being the source of most commercial “milk” as opposed to the A2 type beta casein from breeds such as Jersey, Guernseys, and other much older breeds. The public’s knowledge of A1 vs. A2 was most notably brought out with the release in 2007 of a book entitled “Devil in the Milk” by Keith Woodford. The raw milk I consume (and, again, I use much of it to make the fermented product, kefir) comes from Guernseys, and I have noticed a difference intestinally when I’ve tried milk from other breeds.

        For those interested, the best site to learn more about the health benefits of raw milk is Needless to say, it’s important to really know your farmer and his or her practices and philosophies. I’ve met many folks who have consumed raw milk for years and raised their children on it without incident. I’ve also learned of people having lived on ONLY raw milk for many years and maintaining excellent health (haven’t looked deeply into that anecdotal claim). My personal recommendation would be either to drink raw (real) milk or no milk at all!

        Either way, I’m so happy that you found your solution as it offers hope and encouragement. For the most part, I’ve been able to cope with rosacea since the beast is normally tame (which seems to coincide with my more tame moods). At its tamest (in an attempt to find a “positive” concerning rosacea), it eliminates the need to add a little blush to my makeup! 😉

        Thanks again. I believe that, in addition to learning to chill out, I will keep a food diary as the culprit may have roots in even the healthiest diet.

        Congratulations on what you’ve accomplished, and good luck to all the rest of us. As they say: You are not alone…


  42. I too had what I think was rosacea (never officially diagnosed), primarily a red nose that would appear occasionally. It took me a long time to identify the culprit, which turned out to be wheat, because it usually took one to two days after ingestion for the red nose to appear. My family traveled to France in 2001 for a month and every photo taken of me looks like I have a sunburned nose (having eaten French bread nearly every day). Dairy also causes me issues including depression and a case of fibromyalgia which resolved itself when I went off dairy for a time. I’ve gone on and off dairy and gluten over the years but my health always went downhill when I didn’t avoid them. Congratulations on finding the food culprits early in your life, and stick to your determination to avoid them. You’ll have a happier and healthier life.

    Speaking of rosacea, does anyone else think President Bill Clinton exhibits all the classic signs? I wish I could tell him about this thread and website.

    1. Wheats the definite big offender. I’d go as far to say that Rosacea is just a blatant obvious gluten/wheat intolerance. The problem is most people don’t take it out long enough to notice a difference. In my opinion, if you haven’t even eliminated wheat, gluten, grain products and bread, peoples rosacea problems will remain persistent.

      I’ve tried to re-introduce Dairy, mostly butter, but I think I’m done with it. It’s worth nothing that every time I added it back in, I injured myself at the gym by straining my lower back. I was extremely prone to injury, muscle strains and what felt like deep throbbing bone pain.

      Bill Clinton is supposed to be in that new documentary with Katie Couric, “Fed Up.” It looks like they’re lifting the veil on sugar, but I hope they don’t demonize sugar then recommend a bunch of whole grains. Despite his involvement with the documentary, I’m pretty sure he still eats all the stuff they’re condemning, although I am in now way criticizing him.

      I also forgot to mention I got rid of a Pericardial Effusion by doing a keto-genic palo diet. It’s a cardiovascular condition that’s very rare for someone my age. After months of high saturated fat, high vegetable, high nutrient paleo, it cleared up.

  43. Hey, I am experiencing a battle with rosacea. I am currently addressing my diet changes and experiencing some positive progress. I believe I have digestive issues due to previous antibiotic use. I’m so pleased people are managing to over come there skin issues and be free from it all.
    Rob, can you advise which l-glutamine powder to buy?has any one else had a good experience with a certain brand of this powder? I would appreciate anyone’s in put. Thank you 🙂 and good luck to all on the journey of your skin recovery xx

      1. Thanks Rob. I’m a carb fiend, sugar addict and now former Diet Coke addict. I’ve spent 20 miserable years with constant phymatous rosacea and it’s all come to a head for me. I don’t get acne-like breakouts anymore, but I think that’s down to the disease burning itself out a bit. Dropped a ton of weight on 5:2, now moving onto this. Quitting aspartame has made the skin less oily, so I have a feeling primal will work. Giving it a few months and hoping for the best (I have reflux, bloating, constipation…although those are improving.) Bill Clinton and Donald Trump are Rosaceans with Diet Soda addictions btw, can’t say I trust any sweeteners, inc. natural ones..

  44. Thank you Rob for posting this and for others feedback. This post has been extremely helpful. I kept on reading horror stories as well. I’m so thankful to find these success stories. I love this site!

  45. Rob, I can totally relate to what you went through when you had Rosacea. I’m struggling with it now myself and hate to look in the mirror, even though my case would be considered minor by those with more advanced stages. Mine is mainly dealing with a constant red face with little regression. I’ve been using Metrogel for about a year now but feel that it’s really done nothing for me. Most of my spare time now is spent endlessly researching the Internet for the holy grail on how I might deal with this. That’s how I happened upon this site and your story.
    I feel there’s a lot of people out there selling products that are very cost prohibitive, and that they’re just taking advantage of people with Rosacea because they know now debilitating it is to them, and that they are desperate to try anything.

    I’m to the point where I feel I’ve been handled a life sentence as one of my greatest passions is riding my motorcycle. Given the fact that sun and wind are always mentioned as two of the top triggers, I’ve almost contemplated selling my motorcycle. I feel I have to choose between riding and facing the consequences or giving it up altogether. The thought is killing me as it’s also my main social outlet. I also had been trying to become more active with aerobic exercise and lifting weights, but have quit mostly due to the fear of it exasperating my condition. I’ve become so sensitive to this terrible affliction that it’s completely ruling how I live now. I waited all winter for nice weather, but now that it’s here I’m almost afraid to go out into the sun for any length of time.

    It’s nice to finally hear that it might not be a life sentence with some adjustments in my diet. I’ve always thought that I ate healthy, but can see that I will have to give some things up if I want to follow the Paleo diet. What confuses me though is you mentioned The Paleo Mom’s Autoimmune Protocol, so I looked it up and read some of what she had to offer in the way of diet. When reading what is acceptable to eat in the Paleo diet, it says that eggs and nuts are fine, but that contradicts what is said on the Paleo Mom’s site. She says that those are to be avoided. This is of course if you have an autoimmune condition, which I’m assuming you believe to be the case with Rosacea.

    My question to you is if you gave up eating eggs, nuts and potatoes. I’d hate to think that I’d have to give those up, but if need be the hopeful result would be worth it. I can see now that I’m going to have to throw some food I have away if I’m going to start on a new path diet wise. 🙂

    I also am to the point where I only use water to wash my face with, and at times that seems to be too drying. My dermatologist keeps telling me that I need to moisturize my face, but I hate the thought of putting anything I don’t need to on it. The less the better. I know when I do go out in the sun for an extended period that I need to put some kind of sunscreen (physical) on, but that even causes it’s own problems because zinc oxide leaves my face white, which almost as bad as red. I keep searching for the right sunscreen, maybe something tinted so it isn’t so obvious.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and congrats on beating what must have also seemed like a life sentence to you at one time. I can only hope I can say the same someday.

  46. I know I’m pretty late on this – I don’t know if you’re still reading comments – but I just found your article. Thank you so much!

    I’ve been gluten-free for a year and a half with huge improvements in a lot of areas, but not 100%. One of my struggles is rosacea. I’ve been actively seeking answers recently, and I’m so glad that I found your story. Since gluten-free alone isn’t getting me there, I recently have begun to suspect SIBO and have been looking at the Autoimmune Paleo protocol. My rosacea did get much worse when my tummy issues started four or five years ago. I’m going to give your protocol a shot. Wish me luck!

    Thank you!

  47. Rob, thank you SO much for your story! In the past 5 years that I have been suffering from moderate facial and ocular rosacea, yours is the single most important piece I’ve yet read on the subject. I read about your experiences a week ago and immediately went on the Paleo diet, eliminating grains and diary and consuming 3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily. After only several days, I was able to reduce my dose of the medication I take for rosacea by 25%. I’d love to know, how long do you think it might take for a moderately severe rosacea sufferer to achieve the results you did? How long were you on your primal diet before you felt your rosacea was in remission?

  48. hi Rob,

    Thanks so much for posting your story. I’ve been on a stringent form of Paleo for about 2 months so far, and am seeing some definite changes. Hoping over the coming months to achieve total Rosacea Remission as you clearly have.

    In follow up to the issue of the “instant sunburn” part of Rosacea, that used to happen to me too. I found that if I did topical application of baking soda water, this neutralized the reaction. (At times, the solution even made a fizzing sound with bubbles when it touched my skin, which was pretty nuts.) This suggested that my flash of red must not be a real sunburn as much as an acid burn. After lots of mining the internet and trying dietary experiments on myself, it turned out that my avoiding unsaturated fats like olive oil, canola (and fish high in omega-3) made this problem go away. Coconut oil still induces the instant sunburn a little if I have too much of it with a meal. Though I’m unsure of why the so-called healthy fats turn my face into an acid bath, I never have this problem anymore with the more saturated fats of the paleo regimen.

    For a while I continued along the topical route as my main management strategy. I was trying to treat my face with clay facials and other lotions that were highly basic, but it turned out that this only fixed my redness when I ate unsaturated fat. Topical neutralizers had no effect at all on the redness arising from eating legumes, coffee, soda, spicy food or carb-heavy meals. So at least for the type of Rosacea I have, it looked like there must be 2 food-induced triggers: topical acid associated with dietary unsaturated fat, and also a more generalized trigger where overall irritation to my belly = red face.

    There were a lot of considerations that went into the paths I’ve tried since then. Long story short, the only dietary thing working so far is the current regimen. I’m basically following the combined rules of Paleo and FODMAP (as best I can manage all at the same time) because I noticed that corn, cauliflower, broccoli and white potatoes especially seem to mess me up.

    Here’s hoping I can stay on the path with the minty-cool skin that I’m finally enjoying now. Not all days are great yet, but on average it’s going way better now than it has for quite a while. I’m so happy for your sharing what happens over the longer term. Congratulations on your achievement!

  49. dear Moderator, this statement is not intended for posting, but directly to you:

    As for many other writers in this forum, there are social implications for managing the symptoms of Rosacea, and I would appreciate your not posting my last name here when the comment I just submitted goes live. I hope that will be ok for you.

  50. Hi Rob

    It appears I have done a similar sort of bulking as you have gaining much fat with little muscle. During that time my skin has deteriorated as well and I had severe acne during my late teens as well as Rosacea. So after taking a look at your post It has given me hope my skin can improve, however after trying your suggestions I’ve had an Issue.

    The autoimmune protocol is very restrictive and I find it hard to eat enough while exercising. By exercise I mean I do 3 sessions of weight lifting and 3 sessions of 30 minute moderate running. I am currently 76kg and i’d like to add some muscle to my frame but this diet does not seem to fit. Any suggestions on what to do?

    According to this website –
    I need about 3200 calories a day, but with the AIP I feel like I am compensating the grains&legumes with too much meat and it makes me feel sick.

    Any response would be much appreciated !


  51. Hi Rob.

    Great read! Could u please write a list of all the foods u ate on the ketosis diet for the first few months.

  52. im crying. all of the things u said are correct. we’ve all been forced to live in a hole and never come out. Rosacea is a real life ruiner.

  53. Thank you for your inspiring story! Though I am wondering, where did your photos go?Maybe the website ate them…

  54. I was having really bad rosacea flare ups on my cheeks. Bumps, redness, etc. And I’ve tried everything – creams, lotions, oils, masks, and nothing seemed to work consistently. I use dermalmd rosacea serum twice a day, once in the morning, under my make-up, and at night. It absorbs into your skin really well, doesn’t leave your skin feeling greasy, and doesn’t affect my make-up at all. And it has kept my rosacea flare-ups calm for weeks now. And my skin tone looks better overall. Much less red than usual. Would recommend this serum wholeheartedly!

  55. Hey, congratulations on your success story! I’m happy everything worked out for you in the end.

    I’ve decided to try your recommendations and have eliminated all gluten, corn, legumes, and dairy from my diet (other than raw milk and grass-fed butter.)

    I was wondering if you could give me a time table on this thing? Will it likely take 6 months? One year? I just don’t know how long until my skin is no longer a social embarrassment (I’m currently a milder case, red flushing, mottled skin, and bumps/rash, but not severely red like a tomato or with nose thickening.)

    Also, is the raw dairy (unpasteurized, non homogenized, grass-fed) okay?

    1. It takes about 1 year to see amazing results and 2 years to be completely redness and flare up free on a WFPB diet (see my post below)… I found Rob Stuart on YouTube who had rosacea and fixed t before your eyes ? changed my life.
      Lookup Rob Stuart on YouTube for a full duet and timeline breakdown. GL and keep it up, it works!!!

  56. Thank you Rob! Everything you’ve written is what I’ve concluded in my own research on rosacea. When I went to see my doctor last week asking for blood work to measure the amount of candida in my gut she thought I was a crazy lady. Made me feel dumb to think it was an autoimmune disease stemming from my gut was causing my skin disorder
    Thank you. I know I’m on the right track to managing this skin condition.

    Many thanks,
    Audie R

  57. I did something different and also cured or “suppressed” my rosacea in 2 FULL years of proper eating and working out. Not sure if it ever fully goes away if you have the gene, but it can certainly be put back to sleep (I now get 0 flare ups and have 0 redness after 2 years).

    I’m sure you know or have heard of Whole Foods Plant Based diet? Although it is the complete opposite of your diet, it produce the same results!

    So how could this be? All I can say is that if you look at the foods that both diets elaminate the answer is quite clear. Gluten (the biggest factor! But, also ‘take it easy’ on rice and all nuts and gluten free grains), dairy, vegetable oil and processed foods must go out the window forEVER! And a mild to medium workout 1-2 times a day (walking, biking, gym, yoga, hiking etc…) THATS IT!
    There is no secret formula, there is no magic bullet you are the answer. You want clear skin, you fix you.
    I don’t feel sorry for anybody that has this disease because you can do something about it!

    Last thing, the flareups and redness will definitely get worse when you start your diet and it will only start getting better after the first six months to a year! Your body is adjusting and it takes time. It takes time don’t forget never give up, GL

    1. Last thing not to note: your body will get flareups during the healing process. It will get worse the first few weeks months. Push through, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Flareups get less and less redness gets less and less and overtime, two years reduced to nothing 🙂 good luck it’s a long road but it is so so worth it.
      Not trying to rent, just trying to leave as much information as I have learned in two years.

      Last thing, look up Rob Stewart on YouTube. He was myMotivation from day one. He chronicles the whole journey. Good luck

  58. I have redness on one side my face. I’ve used Dermalmd rosacea serum for about a week and I can see it getting lighter. I had lasers treatment on it but this seems to work better. I hope it keeps working and my redness goes away. Besides laser, I have used at least 10 products on it. I’m sticking with dermalmd.

  59. I stumbled on your post when I googled rosacea / carbs! Having switched to a LCHF / Keto lifestyle about a month ago I this morning I really noticed that my rosacea has calmed down dramatically. I started LCHF / Keto in desperation as my weight was gradually increases and my overall health gradually decreasing no matter what I did! Thank you for your informative post ~ I’m glad you are no longer suffering the effects of rosacea ~ I know how too well how it destroys one’s confidence.

  60. Hi Rob!

    Just read your success story, it gives me so much hope since I have been dealing with rosacea for almost 10 months but lately my symptoms have been really unbereable and my rosacea exacerbates every time I feel my period is coming. I began working with a functional practitioner since like you and many other people struggling with chronic inflammatory disorders I belive it has to come from with in and gut health has always been an issue for me. Im on my third week of the Paleo diet before I actually start my gut treatment and it has definitely been though since I was really used to eating grains, especially whole wheat rice, lentils and oats but I’m committed to the 1 month trial. I want to know apart from going GF and grain free, do you stay away from any fruits and vegetables? Also, what sort of l- glutamine were you taking as a supplement? I’m trying to increase my Omega 3 intake because I’m struggling with mild ocular rosacea and my doctor stressed on the importance of increasing O3s. Thank you so much for sharing your process definitely out gut health is key for healthy looking skin.

  61. How much time on the aip diet did it take you to see some improvements to your rosacea? I’m so tired of hiding in the shadow…. Thank you for your answer

  62. My medicated Rosacea treatment was drying out my skin and causing it to become more red and irritated. Dermalmd Rosacea Serum solved the problem. Applying it about half an hour after the medicated treatment, this Serum kept my skin hydrated and helped relieve the redness within 10 to 15 minutes of applying it.

  63. hi mate i have rosacea and its worse on all the carbs and in the winter,when I do low carb my face shrinks…could you tell me if you drink tea or coffee and weather these are ok with soya milk….do you count carbs or only have carbs with proteins…I also drink beer

  64. I’ve been 3 weeks on Deborah Murtagh’s ketoswitch food plan and my rosacea is calming down noticeably day by day. All you say ties in with what I am doing. Amazing and wish I’d known about this diet these last 40 years of inflamed skin.

  65. My mom has severe rosacea and that is truly calming the redness on her face. And got a lots of recommendation to try dermalmd rosacea treatment serum I don’t know if there a specific ingredient in this serum, possibly a mixture of all the natural calming ingredients, but her face is clearing up now.

  66. I have extremely sensitive skin so a lot of products that are supposed to help with my blemishes etc. usually make me break out more. So far With dermalmd serum, I have no breakouts and I can see it is making a difference to my skin.