Rosacea and Acne are Very Different

Written by on October 12, 2012 in Acne Treatments with 2 Comments

One confusion that seems to follow the condition rosacea is the temptation to call the condition acne rosacea.

This naming can be unhelpful as it might lead you to think that rosacea is just a form of acne.

Some recent research has confirmed that the bacteria P. acnes does not appear to play a major role in rosacea.

Rosacea is not Acne

We now know that there are important differences between acne and rosacea. Even the papules and pustules of rosacea are thought to be different to nodular acne.

Although there may be some overlap with treatments that work for acne and rosacea, in general acne treatments are not as effective or as well tolerated by rosacea sufferers.

The Bacteria Propionibacterium Acnes

The cause of acne is complicated and multi-factorial, much like rosacea in that regard.

P. acnes is thought to be a major culprit in acne development.

As far as P. acnes is concerned we do know that it cannot survive in the presence of oxygen, and this is why benzoyl peroxide is an effective treatment for acne. Indeed benzoyl peroxide is useful because p. acnes cannot become resistant to its use. Rosacea sufferers know that BP is likely to be too harsh as a treatment.

Rosacea and Propionibacterium Acnes

This abstract describes some research where 82 rosacea sufferer were examined for P. acnes. Only 8.5% were found to have this bacteria present.

This lead the researchers to confirm that P. acnes does not play a major role in rosacea.

No link between rosacea and Propionibacterium acnes,

Jahns AC, Lundskog B, Dahlberg I, Tamayo NC, McDowell A, Patrick S, Alexeyev OA., Department of Medical Biosciences/Pathology, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.

APMIS. 2012 Nov;120(11):922-5.

Rosacea is a common skin disease in adults affecting mainly the facial skin.

Although inflammation appears to play a pathogenic role in rosacea, initiating factors are largely unknown.

Microbial involvement in the development of rosacea has been suggested previously.

We aimed to visualize Propionibacterium acnes in the skin compartments of rosacea patients.

Facial skin biopsies from 82 rosacea patients and 25 controls were stained with a P. acnes-specific monoclonal antibody (QUBPa3).

Seven of 82 patients (8.5%) tested positive for P. acnes which was present either as a biofilm (57% of positive) or a microcolony (43%) in colonized patients.

Our results suggest that P. acnes does not play a major role in the pathogenesis of rosacea.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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2 Reader Comments

  1. Beth O'Connor says:

    David, Although I appreciate your newsletters I rarely read through the various articles because I find them to be more like abstracts than suggested treatments and uses of the various products you appear to be advertising. I believe many readers feel the same and may have dropped your site because the reading is tedious and rarely answers their questions. I have never been a fan of abstracts even from the days working on my MA and I know many of your readers don’t have a clue about them and that they are specific to professionals. Would you consider writing a more simplified article each month that will help the average reader? Example: I was curious about flaxseed oil so I read the article but it didn’t make clear how it was being used to determine its effectiveness whether oral or topical. I assume oral but nothing was mentioned about dosage or how it was consumed. How about topical? I think I may try using flaxseed oil, topically, instead of the coconut oil that I have been using both as a conditioner and to remove makeup.

    • Hi Beth,

      It can be frustrating not being able to find the information you are looking for. Sometimes it may even be because that information doesn’t exist. For eg. I have little insight into flaxseed oil dosage or usage. In this case we all rely on fellow rosacea sufferers feeding back their experience for us all. This rarely happens. Sometimes these sorts of answer to collect together and can be left on pages where others can find them. Good answers to detailed questions are very hard to come by.

      I have to be careful to make medical claims about anything lest the articles become medical advice. That is why reporting of “official” research is much safer.

      Perhaps this topic is something you might like to research and write up something for the benefit of everyone?

      I’m sure you’ve seen the page I have created
      to try to see what significance this family of supplements holds.

      For any supplement to go from home remedy to understood treatment research is needed and that is why leading edge research is interesting to rosacea sufferers. Each medical article only advances the science such a small amount. So abstracts can only be useful to a small extent.


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