Q:

5/3/2014
Is there a list of foods that have sulfites in them? How much of an issue is sulfites with a diagnosis of rosacea?

A:

Thank you for your inquiry.

First of all, I want to mention that rosacea is not an allergic condition. For this reason, rosacea is traditionally treated by dermatologists and not allergists. Therefore, you may perhaps get a more informed answer to your questions from the American Academy of Dermatology. Nonetheless, I will share with you the knowledge that I do have about this subject and at least try and give you a perspective on the issues you raised.

One thing that I think is important for you to understand is that reactions to sulfites are rare, and to my knowledge do not occur to foods naturally containing sulfites. There have been reports of reactions to sulfites added to foods as preservatives, but once again, these are relatively rare (1) and, to my knowledge, do not include exacerbations of rosacea. In fact, the only foods that I am familiar with that cause exacerbations of rosacea are those which contain "hot" spices such as pepper. I could not find, on a literature search, a report indicating that rosacea is exacerbated by the ingestion of any other type of food. It is the spices, rather than the food per se, that produces flares.

There are websites that purport to offer lists of sulfite-free foods. These are from lay websites, and I cannot vouch for their validity. However, for your convenience, I have copied links below to three such websites.

Sulfite Free Foods

List of Foods for Sulfite Sensitivity 

Food Intolerance Network Factsheet

Finally, I assume, since you specifically mentioned rosacea that you were looking for the role of sulfites and other foods in particular in regards to this condition. If so, I believe an excellent resource for you, in addition to the American Academy of Dermatology, would be the National Rosacea Society.

Thank you again for your inquiry.

Reference:
1. Randhawa S, Bahna SL. Hypersensitivity reactions to food additives. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Jun;9(3):278-83.

Sincerely,
Phil Lieberman, M.D.

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology