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People with rosacea experience skin inflammation that most commonly affects their face. Characteristic features include red patches and pus-filled bumps. A lack of traditional medical treatments has led to an increased interest in alternative approaches. Proponents assert that if you have rosacea, you may be deficient in lysine, an amino acid that aids in collagen production. However, clinical data to support this claim are lacking. Consult your physician before using lysine to treat rosacea.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition with poorly understood mechanisms. It typically starts after age 20 and is more common if you're fair-skinned. The cause remains unknown, and this contributes to the failure of the scientific community to discover a cure. Rosacea typically worsens over time when left untreated. Doctors generally recommend that you reduce common triggers, which include stress, alcoholic beverages and sun exposure.
Amino acids are most commonly known for being the blocks that help your body build, repair and maintain itself. As of the time of publication, the mainstream medical community holds no association between amino acid deficiencies and rosacea development. However, proponents such as orthomolecular therapist Billie J. Sahley theorize that a deficiency in certain amino acids can contribute to skin problems.
Of the about 22 common amino acids, your body can produce about half, and the remainder must come from your diet. Lysine is an amino acid of dietary necessity. It plays an important role in collagen production, which is a substance your skin and other connective tissues are made of. Lysine's role in skin health appears to contribute to skin problems if a deficiency exists, Sahley explains in her book "Acne and Other Skin Problems Health Educator Report. 2"
Clinical data examining the effect of lysine on rosacea are lacking, as are studies showing that people with rosacea have an amino acid deficiency. Instead, research suggests an immune-related contribution. Scientists found that people with rosacea have abnormally high levels of cathelicidin, an anti-microbial peptide that promotes skin inflammation in order to protect the skin from infection 3. In animal studies, this exaggerated immune response causes characteristics of rosacea, according to a study published in the August 2007 issue of the journal "Nature Medicine." Antibiotics that inhibit cathelicidin tend to help relieve rosacea.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Lysine
- Acne and Other Skin Problems Health Educator Report #55; Billie J. Sahley, Ph.D.
- Nature Medicine: Increased Serine Protease Activity and Cathelicidin Promotes Skin Inflammation in Rosacea
- PeopleImages.com/DigitalVision/Getty Images