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What Is the Difference Between Acne and Rosacea?

Acne and rosacea are two common chronic skin conditions that affect people of various ages. Although many associate acne with teenagers, adults can also experience it. Rosacea typically develops during adulthood after 30 years of age.

While some of their symptoms may be confusing, they have some key differences that can give you an idea of what you are dealing with. However, consulting an experienced dermatologist is always useful to ensure that you get appropriate treatment.

Causes of Acne and Rosacea

Medical research is still investigating the cause of rosacea although current theories include higher blood vessel sensitivity that makes them dilate more than normal. However, healthcare providers are familiar with several triggers for this condition.

Common triggers rosacea triggers include:

  • High stress levels
  • Sun exposure
  • Intense heat or cold
  • Spicy foods
  • Hot beverages or alcohol consumption

In comparison, medical professionals recognize several acne causes such as increased sebum production, bacteria, or unusual clumping of cells in the follicles. Temporary hormonal changes like adolescence, pregnancy, and menopause can also cause acne.

Common Symptoms of Acne and Rosacea

You can experience acne or rosacea symptoms on your face, but acne can also occur on other body parts like your shoulders, buttocks, back, and chest. In comparison, rosacea impacts the face, with specific areas especially prone to rosacea like your eyelids, cheeks, nose, and forehead.

Symptoms of both acne and rosacea include:

  • Redness
  • Inflammation
  • Enlarged pores
  • Skin bumps

Both chronic conditions also present individual sets of symptoms. Acne often involves blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, and hard nodules while rosacea signs can result in a thickening of the skin, eye irritation, and flushing. If you experience redness, it usually spreads to larger areas if you are dealing with rosacea.

Can You Have Both Acne and Rosacea?

Yes. While uncommon, some people, especially in their thirties, can experience acne and rosacea simultaneously. If you have rosacea and are going through a pregnancy or receive testosterone supplementation for a medical condition, you may be especially susceptible to developing acne in addition to rosacea. If you are under high levels of stress, this may trigger both conditions if you have had them in the past.

The Importance of Consulting a Dermatologist

While learning to identify rosacea and acne can help you get a solid idea of which one you are dealing with, you should consult a reputable dermatologist regardless. This helps you receive an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan. Using over-the-counter products may aggravate your situation, especially if you have rosacea.

During your initial appointment, your provider reviews your medical history, conducts a detailed physical examination, and can ask you questions about your symptoms including onset, frequency, severity, and any aggravating factors. They can also discuss your lifestyle habits and recommend possible tweaks to minimize triggers in addition to your treatment.

Treatment Options for Acne and Rosacea

Both chronic skin conditions can require oral medications. Your doctor would generally prescribe antibiotics for acne and anti-inflammatory for rosacea. You may also need topical treatments that differ depending on which condition you have, or even which type of acne you are experiencing. Acne care can also involve hormonal treatments or dermatological solutions like microneedling or extractions.

Both rosacea and acne can benefit from laser treatments or chemical peels to reduce redness, stimulate cell renewal, and improve the appearance of your skin. Although no cure for rosacea exists, an effective treatment plan can manage your symptoms in the long term.

If you experience both rosacea and acne and your symptoms overlap, your dermatologist may use treatment methods that work for both chronic conditions. If you need multiple types of care to address all your symptoms, your provider can tailor a treatment plan to your specific symptoms.

Are you experiencing acne or rosacea symptoms? Call Advanced Dermatology Center today at (818) 284-4003 or use our online form to schedule a consultation at our Burbank office!