Rosacea and acne are often perceived as skin conditions that are of the same nature; however acne and rosacea are quite dissimilar in their clinical history and should be treated differently. It is often very hard to identify these conditions due to the similarities of the symptoms. Sometimes the two conditions co-exist, which makes it even harder to make a clear diagnosis.
Rosacea has been classified into three standard subtypes, reflecting common patterns of signs and symptoms. A further classification affects the eyes (which is called ocular rosacea) and presents with watery, bloodshot eyes that are quite irritated with a burning and stinging sensation. Many people may experience characteristics of more than one subtype at the same time.
Rosacea is a chronic but treatable condition that primarily affects the central face (cheeks, nose and chin) and can go through periods of flare-ups and remissions. Although it can appear at any age, it is more common to appear after age 30 as a flushing and redness on the cheeks that may come and go. Overtime, if left untreated, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent and visible blood vessels may appear. Bumps and pimples may appear and in severe cases, particularly in men, the nose can grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. At this stage, the eyes are often involved and it is considered a severe condition of the skin concern.
Although rosacea can affect all segments of the population, individuals with fair skin who tend to blush or flush easily are at greatest risk. The disorder is more frequent in women but more severe in men. There is evidence that rosacea may also run in families with an inherited tendency. The cause is unknown and there is no cure. The symptoms and signs can be controlled with medical therapy and lifestyle changes. It is quite important to make the correct diagnosis, as treating rosacea with standard acne products will aggravate the condition. However, there may be some overlap in treatment options. Metronidazole is the primary treatment. Antibiotics may also be used as they would in some conditions of acne. Spicy foods, sun exposure and excess heat should be avoided where possible, as well as the use of steam in treatments.
Acne or acne vulgarism usually starts in puberty but can appear for the first time in adulthood. While rosacea is a neurovascular disorder, acne is associated with an accumulation of oil and dead skin cells in the pores that then get inflamed by the P. acne bacteria. Acne always involves comedones at the on-set (blackheads/whiteheads) and does not present as a flushing of the skin. A tendency toward acne can run in families but almost everyone gets some form of acne in their lifetime. Severe cystic acne tends to be more of the hereditary type and appears most often in the teenage years. Acne also falls into several categories from mild (a few blemishes on the cheeks and chin) to a more severe condition where it can affect the entire face. Unlike rosacea, acne is not limited to the face. It can appear on the neck, chest and back. While it is common to associate acne with a poor diet, the root cause of acne is hormonally driven. Stress however is associated, due to the increase in cortisol which in turn effects the production of the oil glands. Oil is the primary factor of acne in teens while an accumulation of dead skin cells in the pores may be the primary catalysts in adults. Treatment ingredients work to minimize oil and unblock the pores. Salicylic and combinations of AHAs are most common. Benzoyl Peroxide and systemic anti-bacterials are used in more severe cases to control the P. acne bacteria.
Accurate diagnosis and treatment is quite important in both conditions as they both have a very detrimental effect on self-esteem and self-confidence.