Acne vs. Rosacea, What’s the Difference?

Stacy Smith

February 2nd, 2015

I have many red bumps all over my face. I can’t tell if it’s acne or rosacea. How can you tell the difference?

Although the conditions of acne and rosacea can resemble each other, and both occur on the face, they are very different. To help answer your question, I’ve outlined the areas affected, symptoms and treatment options for each below:


  • Areas affected: acne is primarily found on the face. However, it can also be found on the back, chest and shoulders, though it’s usually to a lesser degree in these regions


  • Symptoms: skin lesions of varying shapes and sizes are typically found on the face, including blackheads, pimples, bumps and nodules. Having over-oily skin is also a common symptom from overly active sebaceous glands

  • Treatment: usually, when treating patients with acne I will first recommend an over-the
    -counter acne treatment in the form of a face wash or topical treatment. There are also prescription medications available for more severe cases. It’s important to take care of your acne and seek an expert for treatment options, as many acne sufferers go on to face the challenge of battling the physical and emotional effect of acne scars. Fortunately, there are treatment options available for this long-term skin condition, including Bellafill®, the only FDA-approved dermal filler for the treatment of acne scars


  • Areas affected: Rosacea is typically found in the central region of the face. It’s usually found on the cheeks and nose, but can also affect the chin and forehead


  • Symptoms: in the early stages, Rosacea usually starts as what may seem like general skin redness, sometimes with small dilated blood vessels becoming more visible on the skin’s surface. If it progresses, bumps and pimples can appear as inflammation increases and the eyes may feel gritty or appear bloodshot. If it’s an advanced case, the nose can become swollen from excess tissue


  • Treatment: there are prescription oral and topical medications that can be prescribed to minimize symptoms. According to the National Rosacea Society, making simple lifestyle changes, such as wearing sunscreen, minimizing sun exposure, avoiding spicy foods and limiting alcoholic beverages, can also help minimize flare-ups. As always, consult with a physician to know what treatment is best for your case.


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