Difference between Acne and Rosacea

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.



Excessive Blushing | Red Nose | Rosacea Symptoms?

Rosacea can be an uncomfortable skin condition to have because its effects are so visible on your face. However, these effects don’t just all pop up at once. Instead, rosacea is a condition that progresses slowly, and as such rosacea symptoms tend to show up in stages. The period before the full onslaught of the condition is called pre-rosacea. You may start to notice you’re blushing a lot more often, or that your nose looks red, or that you have red patches on your face. These symptoms occur because your blood vessels are beginning to dilate. After a while, your cheeks may start to feel a little like they’ve been sunburned.

Once you have a full case of rosacea, then many of your facial blood vessels will swell up so that you’ll be able to see them. This is called tangiectasia, and these blood vessels will eventually form red spider webs across your face, especially around the nose and cheeks. Your skin may become more oily and more sensitive too, sensitive to the point where certain soaps and other skincare products may leave you with a burning sensation.

You may find your face covered with small bumps, which indicates that you have a subset of the condition called inflammatory rosacea. And in some rosacea patients, conjunctivitis and burning sensations in the eyes can also result.  Other rosacea-related eye problems – again, not everyone with rosacea will suffer from these – include red eyes, crusty eyes, blurry vision and even a sudden intolerance for contact lenses.

Some rosacea patients may develop rhinophyma, which may be the most distinct of all rosacea symptoms. Rhinophyma is when the nose appears larger and becomes bulbous like the photo to the left is the beginning of Rhinophyma.

If you’ve ever seen the old-time comedian W.C. Fields, (pictured to the right) you can see what rhinophyma looks like. Rhinophyma tends to affect male rosacea patients who are middle-aged. In certain instances, rosacea can lead to migraine headaches in addition to all these other issues.  WC Fields Red Nose

One of our presidents had Rosacea and he got a red nose quite often. Can you guess who that was?  Hint. Scroll down to see image.

Just because you have these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you’re suffering from rosacea, however. If you do come down with these problems, be sure to schedule an appointment with a dermatologist right away, because in most cases rosacea won’t go away on its own. And the longer you wait, the worse the condition will come. Why wait until you’re really uncomfortable to seek medical help?

An interesting question came up which was: Can birth control help rosacea?  While it is not very common, some dermatologists do prescribe birth control pills to reduce blushing and rosacea sysmtom breakouts. Anxiolytic drugs (typically for Anxiety) are sometimes used as well since a common Rosacea trigger is stress. These drugs can include Valium and Ativan which have also shown to prevent blushing. Before taking any medication please ask your doctor about side effects as these can be highly addictive. They aslo prevent you from learning what your triggers are and how to reduce your stress with food and or other behaviors.

Some of the techniques that work for me to reduce out breaks are yoga, meditation, healthy food choices such as gluten free foods and low sugar intake. Try other things that can help you relax naturally which can also reduce the excessive blushing and red nose.

President Clinton was often seen with a Red Nose










Mouse over the image to see the answer for the above question.