Is your face unnaturally red and shiny? Is your face covered with small, hard pimples? Does the skin on your face generally look very red and inflamed? You’ll probably answer yes. After all, they sound like the classic symptoms of acne.
However there is a condition that is extremely similar to acne but is not actually traditional acne after all. If you have this condition you’ll also be afflicted with painful bloodshot eyes, you might have veins on your face, and you may have spent a long time wondering why you never, ever get blackheads. If that sounds like you then you might not have acne at all; you might have Rosacea.
Rosacea is a condition that is remarkably similar to acne, but is actually completely different and has its own unique symptoms and causes. From a distance it looks just like acne; it’s so similar to acne vulgaris, the proper name for acne, that rosacea is very commonly called acne rosacea.
That is misleading because rosacea is not a type of acne at all. Tons of people who attempt to cure their acne have been caught out and confused by this.
This confusion is very easy to fall into because the two conditions look extremely similar at first glance. The main symptoms of acne are something you’ll probably be familiar with. They are blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts all over the face.
Pretty basic stuff, and at the first glance of a patient with rosacea you would think they had acne too; the symptoms look that similar. Some of the symptoms are indeed the same such as red, irritated looking skin, a variety of small pimples and papules on their face, and skin with a highly inflamed appearance. However, there are several key differences…
Differences between acne rosacea and acne vulgaris
With rosacea the redness is generally more consistent and not just limited to the pimples. Basically, it is the skin itself that is irritated with rosacea, rather than the area of skin surrounding dozens of smaller pimples.
Unlike with acne vulgaris, patients with rosacea do not usually have oily skin, because the condition has nothing to do with blocked skin pores. If you’ve ever wondered how your face can be such a mess without the slightest bit of sebum, then the answer is that you’ve got rosacea, not acne.
Rosacea is also marked for its absence of blackheads, its different locations in the body, and much more. It looks similar at first, but in reality rosacea is a completely different beast to acne vulgaris. It is not actually acne at all and that’s why modern scientists would laugh at anybody who called it acne rosacea.
What’s particularly important to understand is that the causes of Rosacea are vastly different to acne vulgaris.
That’s one reason why it’s just plain old rosacea these days; back in the olden days of early skin research, scientists called it acne rosacea because they did not grasp just how different it was.
However over the years it became clear that not only were the symptoms different, but the causes were too. They found that it wasn’t just another form of regular acne and hence it was granted a name of its very own.
By far the biggest of these differences is that oily skin plays no part in rosacea. You may have slightly oily skin, but it has no relevance whatsoever; rosacea is caused by the skin itself becoming irritated rather than pores blocking. That is why rosacea patients enjoy a total lack of blackheads and whiteheads.
This of course means that traditional acne treatments will no have effect on Rosacea. Vitamin A won’t help you one bit as it works by reducing sebum, Accutane is a lost cause, and a good old fashioned scrub to remove the oil will do nothing.
Another massive difference is that rosacea has nothing to do with hormones whatsoever, which is again because the chief problem with hormones is the sebum production they lead to. Therefore acne strategies such as controlling insulin and androgen levels won’t work on rosacea.
The only cause they do have in common is chronic inflammation, as this seems to be one of the biggest factors behind rosacea. The signature symptom of red, shiny skin screams of chronic inflammation, as does the presence of multiple smaller pimples and pustules.
How this affects your acne strategy
To sum it up, to treat rosacea you have to take a completely different approach to if you were going to treat acne…
…and this has massive implications for the action you take. Imagine some young woman who has been struggling with rosacea since her teenage years, but mistakenly believes it be acne and treats it that way. Imagine she had tried all sorts of face washes, chemicals and antibiotics – only to find that none of them work.
Now she has reached a website such as this, teaching her how to cure acne by eating a healthy diet and living a clean lifestyle. She follows the information, information that is absolutely accurate for clearing acne, but she still fails to get anywhere. With all options used up, she gives up and has rosacea for the rest of her days…
Don’t let this sorry scenario happen to you! Make sure you know which condition you have, and if it’s rosacea, stop looking at acne websites and find a different treatment.
It does happen that some of the treatments are the same; you’ll get a reduction in rosacea from eating an anti-inflammatory diet. It probably won’t help you completely, but it is still worth eating more foods like pomegranate, dark chocolate, broccoli, berries and so on.
Another good piece of advice is to simply lead a healthy lifestyle. If you tackle common issues such as stress and nutritional deficiencies, then you might cause an improvement in your rosacea anyway. Follow the two points above and you’ll get a good start.
How to tell acne and rosacea apart
You’ve got to avoid the above scenario, and more obviously, you don’t want to waste a ton of time and money on treatments that are doomed to fail. Read the following differences between rosacea and acne so that you can identify which condition you really have.
Rosacea is clearly identified due to its complete and utter lack of whiteheads or blackheads. Blackheads and whiteheads are formed when sebum clogs up your skin pores; they cannot form without sebum. Since rosacea is not caused by high sebum production, unlike acne, whiteheads and blackheads never get the chance to be born. Inspect your face and if there are no blackheads whatsoever then rosacea is what you need to beat.
Rosacea never spreads to the back or the chest. In fact the locations are some of the best tell-tale signs for whether you have rosacea or true acne. Acne vulgaris usually makes its home on the face, but it can also pop up on almost any part of the body.
You can get the dreaded “backne”, you can develop acne on your chest (call it chestne if you want), you can get neck pimples (neckne?), or in just about any other location. Rosacea, on the other hand, is nearly always confined to the face.
Within the face, it is typically found on the cheeks and nose. It can spread to the forehead and chin, but this is less common than with regular acne, where the chin is often the home to some of the angriest pimples in the business.
Your face is red and shiny, yet strangely pimple-less. You might be confused to find that your face has the general appearance of an acne-ridden one, yet doesn’t actually have any acne. This is because while rosacea can include spots, they are not the central feature of it, unlike with acne.
The two most common symptoms of rosacea are flushing and persistent redness, whereas pimples only rank third. The pimples only show up in what is called Papulopustular Rosacea, or stage 2 Rosacea. Therefore if you have a red and irritated, yet weirdly spotless face, rosacea is to blame.
You can see tiny veins running through your face. Rosacea causes the capillaries in your face to become inflamed and this allows you to see them through your skin, like tiny spider’s webs.
It is not uncommon to have some capillaries visible on your face anyway, especially around the nose, but if there’s tons of them then you may indeed have rosacea.
You have eye problems – acne causes a ton of problems but eye issues are almost unheard of. Rosacea on the other hand, can lead to eye problems such as dryness and excessive tear production. There are reports that your eyes can develop a gritty feeling, which sounds like nonsense but you’ll probably understand it if you have it.
The redness from your face can even spread into your eyes, giving them a permanent bloodshot look. Eyes problems are one of the signature signs of rosacea.
The good news is that it probably is acne you have. Acne vulgaris is a lot more common than this “fake acne”, however you can remove all doubt by doing the easy tests listed above.
Before you embark on any dramatic, life altering treatment programs, you first need to make sure that you actually have acne rather than the phantom acne known as rosacea.
Once again, the main signs that you actually have rosacea are: no blackheads or whiteheads, a complete lack of backne and other body acne, eye problems, and visible veins on your face.
If you have any of those then a lot of the information of this website will not be very useful to you, although some of the advice on anti-inflammatory strategies will definitely help.
In the future I may write an article or even a small book about tackling rosacea specifically, so stay tuned for more information. Until that time comes, live a healthy lifestyle and you’ll be bound to stumble across tactics that do work.
Thanks for reading!