Acne vs Rosacea

Acne vs Rosacea

September 07, 2020

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Differentiating between acne and rosacea is essential to find a treatment plan that works. Most of my rosacea patients misinterpret the ‘breakouts’ they get as acne and resort to OTC acne products. The breakouts from rosacea are different, however, and can often worsen with the use of traditional acne products.
Acne is based on clogged pores referred  to as comedones. These clogged pores result from an overproduction of oil or sebum that gets ‘stuck’ inside the pores. Most acne products are focused on exfoliating the skin, unclogging the pores, and reducing oil production.


All the things that acne treatments to do treat acne only make rosacea worse! Rosacea is best thought of as overly sensitive skin. The skin flushes easily in response to heat, stress, spicy foods and a variety of other triggers.

Although we can get breakouts with rosacea, they are not the same. Anyone with rosacea that has tried to ‘pop’ their pimples will tell you it doesn’t work! Maybe you will get some clear fluid out of it but the satisfaction of popping a pimple and seeing it go away isn’t there. If anything, the pimple gets mad at you for trying and gets redder, puffier and more unsightly!


Rosacea is best managed by calming the skin down- not exfoliating. It’s important to use anti inflammatory ingredients, hydrating ingredients, and less irritating products. Many cases that have already reached the ‘pimple’ stage will need oral antibiotics to resolve.

There can always be overlap between these two conditions. This is why seeing a board certified dermatologist to provide you with a treatment regimen is important as there are only a handful of products with overlap in treating both conditions simultaneously.

Tags acne rosacea

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