Skin Care Total

What is the difference between acne and rosacea?

Acne and rosacea - two popular skin conditions - share some common symptoms but they are two different conditions that must be treated differently.

Commonly known as adult acne, rosacea is a highly misunderstood condition. It is often confused with acne, especially when the term ‘acne rosacea’ is used. But the truth of the matter is that rosacea and acne are two different skin conditions. While both the conditions affect the face and some of the symptoms are similar, there is a vast difference in the causes and the way they are treated. Here we discuss the difference between the two conditions in detail.


Rosacea - Mostly seen in people with lighter skin types (usually people of north-western European descent), Rosacea is a chronic skin disorder that is characterised by redness, flushing and blushing of the face. It mainly occurs in the central portion of the face, but can also affect the eyes and nose. With time the redness can become persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Usually it begins after the age of 30 and affects mostly females. It has been seen that Rosacea is three times more common in women than men.

Acne – Unlike rosacea, acne is a common skin condition that is most commonly seen in teenagers. Although it also affects people in their 20s and 30s, it usually starts during adolescence. The condition is characterised by blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, greasy skin, and scarring that affects the face, back, chest and arms.


Rosacea - While the exact cause of rosacea is unknown, there are certain triggers that are known to aggravate the redness. Most people, who suffer from Rosacea, experience facial redness after exposure to cold winds or excessive heat. Spicy food, lots of alcohol or caffeine can also lead to flushing in rosacea sufferers. Certain medications and topical irritants also trigger rosacea. Skin treatments like microdermabrasion and chemical peels can also flare up skin.

Acne- In 80% of cases, the main reason behind acne is family history. Apart from that, hormonal imbalance and bacterial infection are also some of the top culprits of acne as they increase sebum production resulting in the blockage of follicles and formation of acne. While lifestyle factors like diet and smoking aren’t the direct cause of acne, they do increase the risk of developing the condition.


Rosacea – There are 4 sub types of rosacea. Patients may either have one type of rosacea or have more than one subtypes present. The subtypes are:

  • Subtype 1 (Facial Redness) - Flushing and persistent redness is seen, some may also have visible blood vessels.
  • Subtype 2 (Bumps and Pimples) - Persistent redness with short-lived bumps and pimples.
  • Subtype 3 (Rhinophyma) – Mainly characterised by the enlargement of the nose. Signs of skin thickening are also visible.
  • Subtype 4 (Ocular Rosacea) – Eyes and eyelids are affected at this stage. Dry eyes, tearing and burning sensations are common symptoms but some might also experience potential vision loss from corneal damage.

Acne - Acne is normally categorised on the basis of severity as mild, moderate, or severe. Whiteheads and blackheads are considered mild acnes, while inflammatory papules and pustules are moderate acnes. Severe acne occurs when nodules and cysts are formed.


Rosacea – As the signs and symptoms varies for every individual, treatment also differs. But usually oral and topical medications are prescribed to treat the bumps and pimples. Natural rosacea treatments are also available for controlling facial redness. For severe cases, laser treatments are also available. When it comes to skin care, patients are advised control the triggers of rosacea and use gentle products that don’t irritate the skin. Those who suffer from rosacea must also protect their skin from sun exposure using a sunscreen.

Acne -Various gels, lotions, and creams are available for clearing acne. Most of the topical formulations contain ingredients like Benzoyl peroxide and Retinoid. You can also find natural acne treatments in the market that are made using herbal ingredients. In case of severe acne, doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat inflammation. When it comes to skincare, regular cleaning and exfoliation helps reduce blackheads and whiteheads. Oil-rich moisturisers and other oil-based products must be avoided.