Rosacea vs Acne

Rosacea v. Acne: Why differences DO matter

Mankind has shown a need to label everything in life and whereas pigeon-holing may be counterproductive in some areas, in the medical world, a proper diagnosis is all-important. Determining what type of disease is affecting a patient is vital to providing appropriate healthcare. For health specialists, an early diagnosis can determine success and swiftness of treatment. Furthermore, proving the right medication, if any, can be basic to improving the patient’s lifestyle. Similarly, due to repeatedly erroneous diagnosis, it is often for patients to be victims or permanent experimentation; or even worse, to invasive medication for long periods. In fact, the failure to address a condition has led to excessive use of antibiotics, for example.

Defining the Conditions

To begin with, let’s begin by explaining why two different conditions can have been confused in the first place. Some years ago, it was common to hear the term “acne rosacea” which is the way subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea was named. The name stems from some of the symptoms that appear with this condition, bumps and pimples, that resemble those found in acne-affected skin.The name has somehow remained and this is why many people confuse one with the other. However, determining the true nature of the symptoms (however similar) will define the course of action for both physicians and patients.

Major Differences

Skin specialists are able to explain how acne and rosacea are not only chemically, but also clinically different. By analysing a simple version of both definitions, we will be better able to understand the main differences between each. By definition, rosacea is an inherited vascular disorder, not a dermatological one, although some of the symptoms seem to be strictly skin-related. People who suffer from this condition find that their blood vessels become swollen after being exposed to certain factors, such as extreme temperature, alcohol or spicy food. At one point, rosacea might resemble a simple blushing. However, as the condition evolves, skin begins to form pimples that look like acne. Even so, there are many differences that set rosacea apart from Acne Vulgaris. These are the most relevant:

  • Face Location: Rosacea occurs mostly in the central part of a person’s face, unlike acne that can be visible in other areas such as, hairline, nose, the forehead, back and chest.
  • Duration: Even in the worst cases, acne is typically temporary (traditionally during teenage years) and eventually disappears. Rosacea on the other hand, is a chronic disease that usually appears later in life.
  • Symptoms: redness, flushing and blushing, pimples (pustules) and bumps (papules). These symptoms can involve the entire nose and the eyes, as well. In the case of the common acne, pimples are usually the result of the pores getting clogged and other symptoms are frequent: blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes and temporary breakouts.

Where it all comes from

So far, the descriptive aspect has been addressed, involving symptoms and qualitative differences. Nonetheless, the major differences between acne and rosacea can be understood in their causes. Acne is the result of numerous factors that involve bacteria, hormonal changes, hair follicles or oil gland cells. This is why antibiotics are sometimes the most sensible treatment. According to recent research, Rosacea, seems to be associated to the body’s immune system, as it appears to be the result of a dysfunction of the patient’s natural defence system. Consequently, the type of treatment is completely different and does not involve the use of antibiotics. Finally, the only people who are able to tell the difference between both conditions are physicians. Therefore, visiting a health specialist is the best choice in all cases. The certainty of getting proper treatment is well worth a visit to a fully-certified skin specialist.

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