Rosacea and acne are both skin conditions that can affect the face. People with acne or rosacea may have red or inflamed skin, pimples, and sensitive skin.

However, rosacea and acne are separate conditions with different symptoms and causes.

This article looks at rosacea and acne, including their similarities and differences and how to treat them.

A person wondering if they have rosacea or acneShare on Pinterest
Anna Malgina/Stocksy

Another name for rosacea is “acne rosacea.” Despite this, it is a separate condition from acne vulgaris, also known as “acne.”

It can be hard to tell the difference between rosacea and acne. However, treatments are different for each, so it is important to get the correct diagnosis to ensure prompt and appropriate treatment.

It is possible to experience both conditions at once.

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes skin redness in the face, nose, and cheek areas.

It is typically harmless, but it can cause people to experience distress.

There are several different types of rosacea, which include:

Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea

People with this type of rosacea may experience:

  • facial flushing
  • redness across the nose and cheeks
  • visible blood vessels

Papulopustular rosacea

People with this type of rosacea experience:

Ocular rosacea

This type of rosacea affects the eyes. People with ocular rosacea may experience:

Phymatous rosacea

This rare type of rosacea typically occurs in males. People experiencing phymatous rosacea may have:

Acne vulgaris is the most common chronic skin condition in the United States, affecting almost 50 million people per year.

It causes lesions or pimples on the face, chest, or upper back.

The lesions may be whiteheads, blackheads, inflammatory papules, nodules, pustules, or cysts.

The below table looks at the similarities and differences between rosacea and acne, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Age of onsetIt typically occurs in those older than 30 years of age, but it can start earlier or later in some people.Teenagers and preteens are most likely to get acne, although it can affect people of any age.
Who it impactsFair-skinned people are most likely to develop rosacea, but people of all races and colors can develop it. People of all races and colors can develop acne.
LocationThe most common places to develop rosacea are the face and eyes. However, the redness may extend to a person’s chest, neck, scalp, or upper back.Acne typically develops on the face, jawline, chest, neck, upper back, and shoulders.
Redness or inflammationYes, this can come and go or be permanent and typically appears on the cheeks, forehead, nose, or chin area.Yes, the skin may be red or inflamed around the breakouts only.
BreakoutsPimple-like breakouts may occur in some cases. Whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, or painful cysts or nodules may appear.
Oily skinNoYes, usually on the “T-zone” area of the forehead, nose, and chin.
Large poresYesYes
TextureThe skin may be thick or bumpy, especially with phymatous rosacea. The skin may be bumpy due to scarring or active blemishes.
Eye problemsIf a person experiences ocular rosacea, they may have red or swollen eyelids, bloodshot eyes, and discomfort in the eyes.No
Visible blood vesselsYesNo
Sensitive skinBurning, stinging, or itching may occur due to skin care products or makeup.Sometimes

Both conditions may have genetic causes, as having a family member with rosacea or acne can increase a person’s risk.

Rosacea may be the result of Demodex mites. These mites live on everyone’s skin, but people with rosacea tend to have a greater quantity of them.

However, the AAD states that the issue with this theory is that many people without rosacea also have large numbers of Demodex mites on their skin.

Acne can result from abnormal clumping of cells in the follicles, high sebum levels, or bacteria on the skin.

People should visit a dermatologist to determine which skin condition they have.

The symptoms could be from another condition altogether, such as contact dermatitis or perioral dermatitis.

Dermatologists can carry out tests to rule out other conditions that may look like rosacea or acne.

A doctor can make a diagnosis based on the appearance of a person’s skin and eyes and their medical history.

There is currently no cure for rosacea, so treatment involves controlling symptoms, preventing the condition from getting worse or developing complications, and improving a person’s quality of life.

There are many different treatments for rosacea, including:

  • topical creams, gels, and ointments containing antibiotics
  • topical antiparasitics to reduce the population of Demodex mites on the skin
  • topical vasoconstrictors to reduce the appearance of blood vessels
  • oral antibiotics
  • retinoids
  • lubricating eye drops
  • laser and light-based therapies that may be effective at shrinking blood vessels, reducing their appearance

People should also avoid anything that they know may worsen their condition.

A person can do this by wearing sunscreen when they go outside and avoiding triggers, such as:

As with rosacea, treatment for acne centers on healing existing symptoms and preventing new symptoms from occurring.

Some treatments address the underlying causes of acne.

These treatments include topical medications such as:

Other treatments may include:

People should also avoid triggers that may worsen their acne symptoms.

People should avoid squeezing, touching, rubbing, or picking at blemishes, as this can cause scarring.

Acne rosacea and acne vulgaris are two different skin conditions that can appear similar.

However, there are differences between the two, and dermatologists can determine which condition a person has by examining the skin.

Ance can cause breakouts of blackheads and whiteheads on the skin. Rosacea can also cause pimples, but not blackheads.

Acne can also cause oily skin, but rosacea does not. Rosacea can also cause eye problems and visible blood vessels.

Neither condition has a cure. Therefore, treatments for both involve relieving the symptoms and trying to prevent more symptoms from occurring.