A guide to acne and rosacea A guide to acne and rosacea

It used to be believed that rosacea caused acne because the bumps caused by rosacea look very similar to acne. This misconception is still prevalent today outside of medical communities so many people with rosacea mistakenly self-diagnose themselves with acne. However, rosacea and acne are two separate conditions with different causes and biochemical processes.

The conditions also require different types of treatment. If you use the wrong treatment on your skin, you can end up making your condition even worse. It can be hard to tell the difference between acne and rosacea so you can check with a GP or dermatologist if you’re unsure.

However, there are a few easy differences. For instance, any redness caused by acne tends to be just around the actual spot whereas rosacea causes redness over a larger area. Rosacea may cause red pimple-like bumps but acne can cause red, pink, white, and black bumps. Rosacea is also more likely to occur in adults over the age of 30 but acne is more common in teens or young adults. 

Another way to tell the difference between acne and rosacea is the location of the affected area. Acne can occur on the face and some parts of the body, but rosacea only affects the face.

What Is Acne or Rosacea?

Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples (spots), whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and pustules. The areas most affected are the face, chest, upper back, jaw, and shoulders. It’s one of the most common skin complaints, with cases ranging from mild to severe. Some people may only get the occasional breakout whereas others will experience persistent acne with large, uncomfortable bumps. More severe cases can lead to permanent scarring and emotional distress.

Rosacea is another common skin condition and it presents with facial blushing and flushing. Many people also experience visible blood vessels on the face and small pus-filled bumps that might be mistaken as pimples. Flare Ups can occur for weeks or months at a time with periods in between that are symptom-free.

Symptoms of Acne:

  • Pimples (or pustules) have pus in them
  • Whiteheads (closed clogged pores that appear white)
  • Blackheads (open clogged pores that appear black)
  • Small red or pink tender bumps (also known as papules)
  • Large, hard, painful lumps under the skin (or nodules)
  • Painful lumps under the skin that are filled with pus (cystic lesions)
  • Skin swelling

Symptoms of Rosacea:

  • Persistent facial blushing and flushing across the nose and cheeks
  • Itchiness
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Small bumps with or without pus that may look like pimples
  • Small broken veins, or spider veins, in the face
  • Skin that feels hot and tender
  • A bulbous, enlarged nose (rhinophyma)
  • Dry, irritated eyes and eyelids (ocular rosacea)

What Causes Acne or Rosacea?

Acne is caused when the small openings in your skin known as hair follicles become clogged. This can be from bacteria, dead skin cells, or excessive production of sebum (oil). Everyone has tiny glands near the surface of the skin known as sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are attached to your hair follicles.

Your sebaceous glands need to produce a certain amount of oil to lubricate your hair and skin to prevent them from drying out. When your glands produce too much sebum, acne can form. Excess sebum can be the result of hormonal changes (during pregnancy, puberty, or the menopause), certain medications, or some types of cosmetics. The skin on your face, chest, upper back, jaw, and shoulders have the most oil (sebaceous) glands, which is why these areas are more prone to acne breakouts.

What causes rosacea isn’t fully understood, but it’s believed that it could be the result of environmental factors, an overactive immune system, or genetics. Rosacea is more common among older Caucasian and Asian women, but it can happen to people of any age, gender, and background. Those with a family history of rosacea are also more likely to develop it.

Flare Ups of rosacea can be triggered by exposure to extreme weather changes, hot beverages, alcohol, spicy food, stress, smoking, and being out in the sun or wind too long. Exercising and some cosmetics or skincare products may also cause a trigger.

Acne Treatment

The most common method of treating is by using a topical gel, cream, or ointment like Skinoren. These are applied directly to the affected area and aim to reduce and clear the symptoms of acne. Over-the-counter options include azelaic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid. You can also try topical treatments that have tea tree, witch hazel, and retinoids in them.

If these aren’t strong enough to treat your acne, or if you have a more severe case, there are proven prescription medications available. In addition to medicated topical treatments, some people with acne may also take an oral antibiotic like Lymecycline. These work by reducing the bacteria on your skin that can cause breakouts.

Rosacea Treatment

Treatment for rosacea usually involves lifestyle changes alongside medications. The type of medication you’ll be prescribed will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are. There are topical medications like Rozex Gel and Cream that you apply to the skin that reduce flushing and the appearance of broken blood vessels.

If you have pimples caused by rosacea, don’t use acne medication on the spots as these can make your symptoms worse. There are specific topical treatments available to treat rosacea bumps. However, studies have shown that azelaic acid is effective at treating both acne and rosacea pimples.

More severe cases of rosacea may need to be treated with oral antibiotics or laser therapy. Laser therapy is used to make broken blood vessels less visible and is most effective on lighter skin. Whatever medication you’re prescribed, you should also take steps to avoid your triggers.

Our website offers medication options to treat both acne and rosacea. You can buy Rozex Gel and Cream, Lymecycline, and Skinoren online in the UK.