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Is It Acne or Rosacea?

Posted on: March 12th, 2022 by Our Team

Sometimes called adult acne, rosacea can have what would appear to be similar symptoms to those that accompany acne in teenagers. Despite the red, bumpy appearance of each condition, the similarities end there.

Acne and rosacea have different causes, which means each requires its own treatment. While acne can extend into early adulthood, rosacea tends to emerge later in life.

The good news is we can help you with either condition at Beacon Dermatology in Asheville, North Carolina. Under the leadership of Michael Rains, MD, FAAD, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating acne and rosacea.

When it’s acne

Blackheads, pimples, and whiteheads are common blemishes that virtually everyone experiences at some point, usually during their teen years. With acne, hair follicles become clogged with natural oils and dead skin cells, which results in various types of blemishes.

The severity of acne can be due to a number of causes, such as fluctuating hormone levels, bacterial growth, and even genetics. While acne sometimes presents as an occasional single blemish, it’s problematic when it includes other symptoms, such as:

  • Cysts and nodules that become deep and painful
  • Blemishes that overlap
  • New pimples that form before previous outbreaks heal
  • Pits and scars that remain after a blemish heals
  • Extensive breakouts on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and back

While acne is most common between the ages of 10-20, it’s possible to have an outbreak at any age, particularly around hormonal events, such as menopause.

When it’s rosacea

While you may develop pus-filled bumps that resemble acne, rosacea doesn’t include blackheads, which form when a clogged pore remains exposed to the air. Rosacea typically results from an immune system response, though environmental factors and genetics may also play a role.

Other symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Redness around the middle of the face, including the nose, cheeks, forehead and chin
  • Skin that may feel sensitive, hot, and tender
  • Tiny blood vessels that are visible through the skin
  • Eye symptoms, including bloodshot eyes and swollen eyelids
  • Thicker skin on the nose, which is more likely in men
  • Increased pore sizes

The redness from rosacea can spread to similar areas as acne, such as the neck, scalp, chest, and back. Rosacea tends to favor light-skinned women aged 30 years and older, but it can affect anyone of any age. Rosacea can’t be cured, but its effects and outbreaks can be controlled with treatment.

Treating your skin problem

If you’re unsure if it’s acne or rosacea, the first step is an exam and diagnosis at Beacon Dermatology. It’s possible to have both conditions at the same time. Furthermore, unrelated conditions can also produce similar symptoms.

The treatment Dr. Rains recommends for you will depend on what’s causing your condition. For example, if you have acne, Dr. Rains may recommend a topical cream, an oral antibiotic, a prescription oral medication, laser treatment, or a facial peel. If you have rosacea, Dr. Rains may recommend an at-home skin care regimen, medication, or a laser treatment.

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