Q&A: True Acne or Rosacea?

Q: I’m an adult who’s been dealing with recurring breakouts for years. Are adult acne and rosacea the same thing?

A: Quite often when an adult has acne, they are quick to label it as a form of rosacea that is commonly referred to as adult acne. It’s true that pimples can be a symptom of rosacea, but they can also exist as true acne or acne vulgaris on someone with no rosacea. How can you tell the difference between a pimple caused by rosacea versus one caused by acne vulgaris?

In reality, a rosacea pimple and an acne vulgaris pimple look similar to the naked eye. Differences between the two are revealed only when they’re examined under a microscope. I like to look for additional clues that can help me determine which type of pimple a patient has.

A pimple caused by rosacea will be accompanied with redness caused by extra blood vessels. Redness is a common symptom of rosacea. True acne or acne vulgaris will often have black- or whiteheads in addition to the pimple.

To prescribe the most effective treatment, it’s important to determine if a patient has rosacea or true acne. The medications may be similar or quite different depending on the type of acne. In both cases, it’s important to see an experienced dermatologist who can diagnose and prescribe the most appropriate course of action for you.

Published on 04/13/2010 | Last updated on 12/20/2016