Rosacea and eczema are both chronic skin conditions. They share certain symptoms, such as redness and itching. Both may also worsen in response to triggers. However, rosacea and eczema require different treatment strategies and are risk factors for different conditions.

This article compares and contrasts rosacea and eczema. After defining these conditions, it discusses their symptoms, causes, and treatments, as well as when to see a doctor. Finally, it answers some common questions about rosacea and eczema.

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There are some important differences between rosacea and eczema.

Rosacea

Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects a person’s skin. It may lead to problems with the eyes, such as dryness, tingling, and blurred vision. People who have rosacea are also prone to anxiety and depression.

Eczema

Eczema is another chronic skin condition. It involves a host of problems with the skin barrier. These problems can make people more susceptible to skin infections and can cause persistent skin dryness and itchiness.

The table below summarizes the key symptoms of eczema and rosacea. The next section will discuss them in greater detail.

Although eczema and rosacea have some overlapping symptoms, there are also some important differences between the symptoms of the two conditions.

Rosacea

The skin symptoms of rosacea include:

  • redness
  • itchy skin
  • visible blood vessels
  • papules
  • pustules
  • flushing
  • thickening of skin
  • changes in skin pigmentation

It is also common for rosacea to cause symptoms in and around the eyes, including:

  • dryness
  • redness
  • tearing
  • a tingling or burning sensation
  • a feeling like there is something in the eye
  • blurred vision
  • light sensitivity

According to a 2022 review published in Drugs in Context, rosacea can present differently on light skin tones than on dark skin tones. For instance, pustules and papules may be less obvious on dark skin. This may be partially due to changes in skin pigmentation, which are more common in people with dark skin.

Eczema

The symptoms of eczema include:

  • a rash
  • itchy skin
  • raised skin
  • thickened skin
  • blistering
  • scaling
  • excoriation
  • dry skin
  • skin discoloration

Like rosacea, eczema can look different depending on a person’s skin tone. According to a 2021 article published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, eczema is more likely to present with redness and skin plaques on light skin. On darker skin, changes in skin pigmentation, the formation of papules, and lichenification are more common.

Rosacea and eczema may have some similar causes.

Rosacea

According to a review published in DermatoEndocrinology, scientists remain uncertain about the exact causes of rosacea. However, research suggests that rosacea occurs when the immune system overreacts to certain triggers.

Rosacea triggers may include:

  • ultraviolet radiation
  • microbes
  • extreme temperatures
  • stress
  • hormonal changes
  • spicy foods
  • alcohol

In people with rosacea, the skin responds to these changes by releasing different immune cells. This process causes inflammation, which may contribute to rosacea symptoms.

Eczema

Researchers do not yet know the exact causes of follicular eczema. According to a 2019 article published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, several factors may jointly lead to eczema. These include:

  • certain genetic mutations
  • immune system responses to external triggers, which cause inflammation
  • insufficient production of skin barrier proteins

Eczema symptoms can also suddenly worsen. This is called an eczema flare-up, and it often arises in response to external triggers. Common eczema triggers include:

  • dust mites
  • some foods, such as fish, peanuts, and rice
  • high humidity
  • high heat
  • chemicals
  • soaps
  • certain fabrics, such as acrylic and wool

Some people may also experience eczema flare-ups with no apparent cause.

There are some important similarities and differences between rosacea and eczema treatments.

Rosacea

Rosacea is an incurable condition. However, some treatment options can help people manage the symptoms. These include:

  • identifying and avoiding triggers to prevent symptoms from worsening
  • practicing a daily skin routine, which may include using sunscreen and moisturizing and cleansing the skin with products that have an optimal pH balance
  • taking anti-inflammatory medications

Some anti-inflammatory medications are not suitable for people with rosacea. These include topical steroids, which may worsen symptoms.

Eczema

Eczema is also incurable. However, people can manage the condition by:

  • identifying and avoiding triggers to reduce the chance of flare-ups
  • treating eczema flare-ups with topical anti-inflammatory medications
  • moisturizing the skin with a fragrance-free moisturizer every day

A healthcare professional may also prescribe different treatments depending on the type of eczema and its severity.

Anyone with symptoms of eczema or rosacea should consult a doctor. Once a doctor makes a diagnosis, they can put together an effective treatment plan. They can also discuss the outlook for people with either condition.

Rosacea

People with rosacea may be at an increased risk of developing certain conditions, such as:

A person with rosacea may also experience depression and anxiety. For this reason, mental health treatment may be helpful to people with this condition.

Eczema

People with eczema are at an increased risk of developing other atopic conditions. These are conditions that arise or worsen as a result of allergens. Severe eczema comes with a 50% risk of asthma and a 75% risk of allergic rhinitis.

Eczema makes people prone to skin infections. Though relatively rare, some of these infections can be very serious. These include eczema herpeticum and eczema cosackium, both of which can be fatal.

Below are answers to some of the most common questions about rosacea and eczema.

Can rosacea look like eczema?

Rosacea and eczema do have some symptoms in common, such as redness, dryness, and raised skin.

What is the difference between eczema and rosacea?

Although these are both chronic skin conditions, only eczema is related to allergies.

Is rosacea dry and flaky?

Dry skin and flaky skin are not typical symptoms of rosacea.

Rosacea and eczema are chronic skin conditions. Although they have some symptoms in common, rosacea and eczema are different in many respects.

People should consult a doctor if they think they may have eczema or rosacea. A healthcare professional can diagnose the condition and make sure a person receives appropriate treatment.