Acne and Rosacea

18 Aug

Acne and rosacea are common skin disorders that are frequently confused with each other.

Confusion of the diseases is increased when the term “acne rosacea” is used. The key to proper treatment is an accurate diagnosis. The two disorders share common signs and symptoms, which may include bumps, redness and small pimples or pustules.

Acne can present with any combination of these blemishes:

  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Papules
  • Pustules (or Pimples)
  • Cysts
  • Nodules

Acne is most common on the face, but it may appear on other areas of the body such as the back, chest, neck, shoulders, upper arms and buttocks. Most people who have acne are teenagers or young adults, but it can
occur at any age. Infants can get acne. Men and women get acne. Some women get acne in middle age.

Acne begins when a pore in the skin becomes clogged by dead skin cells. Normally the dead skin cells rise to the surface of the skin and are shed. When the body starts to make lots of sebum (typically during puberty), the dead skin cells stick together inside the pore, causing a blockage. Bacteria grow and multiply in blocked pores. This confluence of events stimulates inflammation that can lead to cysts or nodules.

Left untreated acne can cause dark spots to appear on the skin. These dark spots can take months to years to fade. Frequently people with acne cysts or nodules get scars in the area after the acne clears. Treatment can help prevent scarring. Acne often will lead to feelings of low self-esteem and depression. Early diagnosis and treatment from a dermatologist can help prevent this.

Rosacea is also very common. Most people who get rosacea are between the ages of 30 and 50, with fair skin. Women are more likely than men to get rosacea, but men are more likely to get severe rosacea. Other risk factors for rosacea include a family history or a history of severe acne. Left untreated, rosacea can get worse.

Signs and symptoms of rosacea include:

  • Redness, flushing, visible blood vessels, a “hot feeling” face
  • Swelling and acne-like breakouts with inflammatory papules and pustules
  • Thickening and bumpy textured skin
  • Redness and irritation around the eyes.

Rosacea is a chronic skin disorder that primarily occurs in the central portion of the face. Rosacea may involve the eyes and in some cases, even cause a bulbous nose.

Many patients note certain foods or environmental factors trigger flushing and may worsen the disease. Sunlight, stress, spicy foods, caffeinated beverage and alcoholic beverages are frequently cited triggers.

Appropriate therapy is important. Wearing sunscreen may slow progression. Antibiotics in topical and pill form are frequently used to treat inflammatory rosacea. Light surgery is effective to treat redness and visible blood vessels. There is no cure for rosacea, but proper treatment can prevent the disease from worsening.