So is there any difference between rosacea vs acne? Many people cannot tell the difference between a person with rosacea and someone with acne. Rosacea is so similar to acne that many refer to it as acne rosacea. It is quite common for people, even dermatology students, to ask if rosacea is a form of acne.
While similar in appearance, these are two different conditions. Each has its own causes and symptoms. Because they are similar, a person suffering from rosacea may start treating themselves for acne. These treatments will have little effect and will lead to frustration.
In order to avoid this confusion, it is important that a person is able to tell one from the other. This will help people manage their condition and seek the appropriate treatments. Recent discoveries allow for better treatment, especially when using antibiotics.
Acne is caused by hair follicles being blocks, stimulation of oil gland cells by hormones and bacterial infections. Rosacea is linked to an immune system defect.
Key features that distinguish rosacea vs acne
Age: While ache is prevalent in young adults and teens, rosacea is usually found in people over the age of 30.
Affected Area: Acne vulgaris can appear in numerous areas of the body including the back, arms, shoulders, buttocks and face. Rosacea is usually found on the face on the T-zone and cheeks.
Type of Blemish: Acne vulgaris come in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Rosacea has lesions that appear as raised red spots or surface redness.
Eye Symptoms: Rosacea can cause eye or eyelid irritation. A person may feel as though sand is in their eyes. Acne does not affect the ocular system.
Nose Symptoms: Rosacea can cause a disfiguring of the nose, called rhinophyma. This painful condition usually occurs in men and is one serious complication. Acne does not affect the nose.
Rosacea vs Acne: Causes and Risk Factors
The cause of rosacea is unknown. Despite multiple studies, researchers cannot determine one cause. However, they do believe that environmental and genetic factors are involved.
That being said, there are many factors that can aggravate or trigger rosacea. In fact, rosacea can be triggered by an increase in blood flow to the skin’s surface.
Some factors that trigger rosacea includes:
- Strenuous exercise
- Temperature extremes
- Hot foods or beverages
- Spicy foods
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone
- Drugs that dilate blood vessels, such as some blood pressure medications
Acne is usually found there the body has the most sebaceous, or oil, glands. The sebum, or oil, that is secreted by the glands, mixes with dead skin cells to block hair follicles, which causes acne. Sebum is present in the hair. It travels along the hair shaft and through the hair follicle openings. If your body is producing too much sebum, when it reaches the surface of the skin, it will mix with dead skin cells and plug the hair follicle opening. The plug is a breeding ground for bacteria. In time, the infected pore will become inflamed. This inflammation is an acne breakout.
That was just the basic pathology for an acne formation. However, there are other triggers which can cause acne to flare up.
Here are some common acne triggers.
Hormones: During puberty boys and girls have an increase in androgens which can cause the sebaceous gland to increase in size and produce more sebum.
Medication: Drugs that contain lithium, androgens, and corticosteroids can make acne symptoms worse.
Diet: A diet rich in dairy and carbohydrates can cause acne. A recent study showed that some people had an increase in acne after eating a large amount of chocolate.
Stress: Stress can increase acne symptoms.
However, there are some things that many people believe triggers acne, which does not. Greasy foods, cosmetics, and dirty skin do not cause acne. However, they might make it difficult to clear up any acne a person has.
Because of the nature of acne, there are some risk factors that can also be a cause of acne breakouts.
- Family history
- Friction or pressure on your skin
- Hormonal changes
- Greasy or oily substances
- Stress – which can make acne worse
Rosacea vs Acne: Diagnosis and Treatment
More than 60 percent of the skin care medications sold in the U.S. are for the treatment of acne and rosacea. However, the outcomes for the treatments of each condition is different.
There is no cure for rosacea. The goal of treatment is to control skin eruptions, inflammation, and redness. The only way to control rosacea is to avoid the triggers. If you can eliminate the factors that cause the skin to flush, then the rosacea would be under control.
One way to manage rosacea is with proper skin care. A person with rosacea should use a mild cleanser and oil-free cosmetics. They should be high-quality products. Sunscreen with a broad spectrum coverage should be used to reduce the effect of sunlight as a trigger.
If these measures do not stop rosacea from appearing, there are long-term treatments available using antibiotics. This treatment has been shown to control skin eruptions and reduce the progress of rosacea. A culture sensitivity test is used to determine if an antibiotic treatment would be effective for a patient. Remember, since there is no permanent cure, this treatment may be prolonged, lasting for months or years.
If a person has a severe case, with complications, including rhinophyma or visible veins, laser surgery may be recommended. This surgery would be for cosmetic reasons.
There are several treatments available for people who suffer from acne vulgaris. The options available may include:
- Oral medication, such as antibiotics
- Extraction of blackheads and whiteheads
- Topical medications
- Steroid therapy
- Light therapy
- Chimal peel
- Skin surgery
- Laser resurfacing
So in summary, understanding the differences between rosacea vs acne is an important part of the process towards finding the most suitable treatment and management of these embarrassing skin conditions.