Acne (the proper medical term is acne vulgaris) and rosacea are two unpleasant skin conditions whose symptoms are just similar enough that a person might get them confused. But these are two entirely different skin problems, each with its own unique set of symptoms and remedies.
The biggest difference between acne and rosacea is the typical age of the patients who get them. Acne is most common in teenagers and people in their early twenties. By contrast, rosacea usually only occurs in people thirty and older. Furthermore, acne is much more common than rosacea. In fact, acne is the most common skin problem of all. Most people have come down with a case of acne at some point in their lives. And while many people probably don’t even know what rosacea is, almost everyone could explain what acne is.
Rosacea and acne have different causes, too. Acne is caused by a blockage of the skin’s pores or the hair follicles, whereas rosacea involves a “neurovascular” problem; with rosacea, there’s a swelling of the blood vessels of the face. These dilating blood vessels lead to red splotches across the nose and cheeks, an underlying facial redness that is not typical of acne.
Then there’s the matter of bumps and pimples that appear on the skin. When a person suffers from acne, he or she gets blackheads or whiteheads, pimples which are filled with pus. The bumps appearing on the skin of a person with rosacea, however, are red and not filled with pus. And a person suffering from acne can develop pimples on his or her back, neck, chest and elsewhere on the body, while rosacea is almost always confined to the face. It’s also much more common for acne to leave permanent scarring, especially if a person suffering from acne attempts to “pop” the pimples as a way of getting rid of them.
Another major difference between these two conditions is that rosacea can have an effect on the eyes. Conjunctivitis, blurred vision and dry or sensitive eyes are all common rosacea symptoms (although not all rosacea patients will suffer from them). Acne, on the other hand, usually has no effect on the eyes.
While these diseases may be much more different than alike, there are a few things acne and rosacea have in common. For instance, to prevent both conditions patients are advised to take good care of their skin. This means keeping the skin clean and moist, avoiding heavy and harsh makeups and other cosmetics, and avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight. And both rosacea and acne can be treated through antibiotic oral medications or creams. However, that doesn’t mean that acne and rosacea medications are interchangeable. In fact, the opposite is true: people suffering from rosacea should AVOID using acne treatments in an effort to clear up their condition. The reason for this is that acne treatments are often strong, even harsh, and they can actually aggravate a case of rosacea.