What is the difference between acne and rosacea?

Many of us come to rosacea after thinking that we might have symptoms that look like an adult form of acne. I know I thought for several years that I was becoming a teenager again with red lump and bumps that sure felt like acne.

Acne is thought to be related to the overgrowth of the bacteria Propionibacterium Acnes and we know that this bacteria is not generally present in rosacea sufferers.

I tried previously in the rosacea frequently asked questions to answer this question;

1.2 What is the difference between acne and rosacea ?

As rosacea is a neurovascular disorder it affects the flushing zone.

Is is common that Rosacea does not present with blackheads that are seen with Acne Vulgaris. Also the age of onset, and the location of redness is a clue. Rosacea is commonly an adult disease, and is generally restricted to the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead. It can coexist with acne vulgaris.

Some rosacea sufferers have a significant acne component in their symptoms so it can be easily confused with acne vulgaris. The papules and pustules of rosacea tend to be less follicular in origin.

Rosacea will probably have an underlying redness that is related to flushing and thus looks different to acne vulgaris. Acne sufferers normally do not have the accompanying redness.

Rosacea usually begins with flushing, leading to persistent redness.

As both conditions are inflammatory, the treatment for rosacea and acne vulgaris can be somewhat similar, but some of the acne vulgaris regimes are too harsh for rosacea affected skin and can severely aggravate the condition.

Rosacea sufferers are cautioned against using common acne treatments such as alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acids), topical retinoids (such as tretinoin, Retin-A Micro, Avita, Differin), benzoyl peroxide, topical azelaic acid, triclosan, acne peels, chemical peels. Additionally the caution extends to topical exfoliants, toners, astringents and alcohol containing products.

Bel Marra Health has a well written background article on some of the typical differences between acne and rosacea. Their article is worth a read.

Rosacea vs. acne: Differences in symptoms, causes, and treatment

By: Devon Andre, Thursday, June 16, 2016

Top distinguishing features between rosacea and acne

  • Age: Rosacea typically appears in patients 30 and older, whereas the acne vulgaris is more prevalent in teens and young adults.
  • Affected area: Rosacea usually only affects the T-zone and the cheeks of the face. But acne vulgaris can appear in a number of areas including the face, back, shoulders, arms, and buttocks.
  • Blemish type: Unlike rosacea lesions, which appear as surface redness or raised red spots, the lesions in acne vulgaris develop into whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples.
  • Eye symptoms: Rosacea can also cause ocular symptoms such as a sandy feeling in the eye or eyelid irritation.
  • Nose symptoms: A severe complications of rosacea is rhinophyma or disfiguration of the nose, a painful condition that occurs most commonly among men.

[full article]

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

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