Can Rosacea Be Mistaken For Acne?

By | 2 December, 2014

Rosacea is a skin problem which is estimated to affect one in ten people. Although doctors do not generally regard the condition as serious, it can still cause a lot of misery and discomfort for the sufferer.

What Exactly Is Rosacea?

The condition is typified by a reddened facial appearance, particularly over the cheek and nose areas. At first, Rosaceamost people simply notice persistent pink or red hues in the cheeks, almost as if they are constantly blushing.

It can be embarrassing and can make the sufferer feel a little self conscious, but it is generally easy to cover up with makeup.

After a period of twelve to eighteen months the reddening will start to worsen. It may look less like a subtle blushing and more like sunburn.

Since the rosacea is much more noticeable at this stage it can be quite upsetting for the sufferer, and it is around this time that other symptoms may start to develop too. As the skin starts to look more inflamed, the skin can start to feel hypersensitive and painful.

Some people find the area around the eyes particularly painful, and a number of individuals may even find that the eyes themselves become dry, red and sore. Many patients with severe rosacea will develop pustules and papules as part of the condition. This looks very like acne.

Why Rosacea Can Be Mistaken For Acne

acneIt has been estimated that a third of people with rosacea have subtype two. This form of rosacea is known as papulopustular rosacea, because it is heavily characterized by the presence of spots and pustules.

People commonly associate reddened skin and pimples with acne, and the condition is even sometimes called acne rosacea, but it is not truly acne – it simply resembles it.

When people with papulopustular rosacea come across the term “acne rosacea”, they may take the term literally and try to self treat a skin condition they do not actually have. More specifically, it is relatively common for patients with subtype two rosacea to use products designed to clear up acne. This can be detrimental to the health of the skin.

Despite some superficial similarities in the appearance of the two skin disorders, the conditions actually have very little in common. Rosacea and acne need different types of medication and treatment, and topical creams can actually make rosacea symptoms significantly worse.

How To Tell The Difference Between Rosacea And Acne

dermatologist If you have a skin condition, it is highly advisable to visit your doctor or a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. However, there are some ways in which you can distinguish between the two conditions yourself.

Subtype two rosacea mostly affects the central portion of the face, across the top of the cheeks and the nose. In severe cases, the patient may also have redness over the forehead and chin.

In contrast, acne vulgaris does mostly affect the face but it will almost certainly show on other areas of the body too, such as the back, chest and shoulders.

Rosacea is characterized by redness, both of the face and eyes. As the redness worsens, inflamed pustules and pimples may appear and delicate areas of tissue such as the nose may swell. Acne looks a little different. Although it may also look very red during severe outbreaks, the pustules tend to dominate and the skin will appear oily. Blackheads are also found with acne but rarely with rosacea.

In some cases, people with rosacea may experience additional skin problems such as acne vulgaris. However, the two problems are distinct and there is a risk that one condition is simply being mistaken for the other.


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