Recently I chatted to TopDoctors about the difference between Acne and Rosacea which are two conditions that often get mixed up. Read on to find out more about these two conditions.

Acne vs Rosacea

Acne and rosacea are both skin conditions that can cause acne-like breakouts on the face. Sometimes acne even appears on the chest, back, arms, buttocks or other places where acne normally doesn’t develop. Both acne and rosacea are chronic conditions, which means they last a long time if left untreated.

What is Acne?

Acne is a common skin disease caused by sensitivity to acne-causing bacteria, abnormal shedding of skin cells, and excess oil production. Acne causes pimples or “zits” on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and even the upper arms. Though acne isn’t life-threatening, it can cause serious physical and emotional problems. Those who suffer from acne often feel anxious and depressed about their appearance and may develop low self-esteem.

Though acne isn’t life-threatening, it can cause serious physical and emotional problems. It’s already difficult for teens to deal with acne breakouts during their most self-conscious years, but acne can also affect adults through adulthood. Even though acne is a treatable condition, acne doesn’t go away on its own or gets better without treatment.

An acne pimple starts as a clogged pore. During the early stages, acne blemishes look like small bumps or whiteheads. As acne progresses, it turns into visible red lumps and eventually develops a pus-filled head that can cause severe pain.

Acne is more common in teenagers and young adults who have oily skin.

What is Rosacea?

Rosacea is an inflammatory disease of the face that mostly affects women between the ages of 25 to 55, but it can also occur in men. Rosacea usually starts as red acne-like bumps that are easy to confuse with acne vulgaris at first. The disorder tends to have chronic periods of exacerbation and remission.

People with rosacea often have very sensitive skin and acne-like breakouts on the face with a red, blotchy appearance. There is a wide spectrum of severity and different people may have different symptoms.

What is the difference between both conditions?

Rosacea can be mistaken for acne because acne vulgaris and acne rosacea share some similar signs and symptoms. But acne is usually more superficial whereas rosacea has deeper involvement in the structures of the skin

In acne vulgaris, the pore swells and becomes a whitehead. In rosacea, it’s less visible because the swelling occurs just beneath the skin. Infection isn’t present in acne rosacea.

Almost 16 million Americans suffer from rosacea, with women being affected more often than men by a ratio of 3 to 1. Rosacea is thought to have a genetic component because it tends to run in families. While acne is a common skin disease that causes pimples or acne vulgaris, rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that leads to acne-like breakouts on the face and even affects the eyes and the central part of the face.

Can they occur at the same time?

It is extremely unlikely that these conditions will occur together, but they are often confused with one another. I often get patients who have been told they have rosacea whereas they have acne and vice versa. There are subtle signs that only experienced dermatologists can detect to help achieve a proper diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of rosacea?

  • Flushing of the face/redness
  • Bumps on the face resemble acne vulgaris but are red in colour and look like acne rosacea. It may be itchy too
  • Swollen or bulbous looking, bloodshot eyes
  • Small visible blood vessels on cheeks and nose (telangiectasia

What are the different types of rosacea?

The erythematotelangiectatic rosacea is the most common form that affects middle-aged women. The skin of the face becomes red and flushed, with visible blood vessels (telangiectasia).

The papulopustular rosacea is a variant that usually starts with a tendency to blush or flush more easily than other people. It progresses to acne-like breakouts on the face, usually lasting a long time before going away.

Rhinophyma is chronic acne rosacea that can lead to a disorder known as rhinophyma. In some people, acne rosacea may cause the nose to swell and become enlarged due to the formation of excess tissue on the nose or within nearby structures such as nasal passages or sinuses. The disorder becomes more apparent during adulthood. When severe, the condition may interfere with vision.

Ocular rosacea is an advanced type of acne rosacea in which the eyes are also affected. Rosacea causes inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva. It may cause redness, dry eyes, itching, burning, light sensitivity and blurred vision.

How is rosacea treated?

Rosacea is generally treated by avoiding triggers such as sunlight, hairspray hot drinks, stress and spicy foods. Your dermatologist may also prescribe a topical medication to help ease symptoms.

In more severe cases, your dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics. Laser treatments and chemical peels can also be used to improve the appearance of rosacea skin.

Preventive measures include wearing sunscreen with at least SPF 30 since ultraviolet light can worsen rosacea. Skincare products that are fragrance-free, non-comedogenic and water-based are good choices for rosacea patients to use.

I usually recommend that my patient use rosacea-prone sensitive products such as Bioderma’s sensibio range.

Also, check out 19 key rosacea questions answered by an experienced dermatologist 

For expert consultation on rosacea, acne or any other dermatological issue, why not browse the website and get in touch with the clinic today.

Please check out or acne clinic page as well as the rosacea clinic page for more in-depth information.