Rosacea vs Acne
An easy way to recognise which skin condition you suffer from is by looking at your skin. Do you have blackheads as these only occur in acne or does your skin flush easily and look pink most of the time? You are looking at rosacea.
Years ago we heard of the term acne rosacea and this is wrong as rosacea is not acne.
Rosacea is a common inflammatory skin condition, usually occurring on the face, which predominantly affects fair-skinned people aged 40 to 60 years old. It is more common in women but when affecting men, it may be more severe. Rosacea tends to affect the cheeks, forehead, chin and nose, and is characterised by persistent redness caused by dilated blood vessels, small bumps and pus-filled spots similar to acne. There may also be uncomfortable inflammation of the surface of the eyes and eyelids.
What causes rosacea?
It is thought that your genetics, immune system and environment all play a part in having rosacea. When rosacea is triggered the blood vessels in the skin of the face enlarge or dilate. There is a theory that rosacea is due to bacteria on the skin or in the gut – but this hasn’t been proven. Triggers such as alcohol, exercise, extremes of temperature, hot drinks, spicy food and stress can make rosacea worse. Another factor is that if you suffer from this skin condition – you should stay out of the sun as this will make it worse.
What does rosacea look like?
Rosacea usually starts with a tendancy to blush easily. After a while, the centre of the face can become a permanent deeper shade of red, with small dilated blood vessels, bumps and spots. I always think of rosacea as a kind of ‘sunburn’ look that won’t go away.
What is acne?
Acne is a another chronic, inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples on the face, shoulders, back, neck, chest and upper arms. Whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, cysts and nodules are all types of acne.
It occurs mainly during puberty, when the sebaceous glands activate, but it can occur at any age. The glands produce oil and are stimulated by male hormones produced by the adrenal glands in both males and females.
What causes acne?
The tiny holes in the skin, which are known as hair follicles, simply become blocked. There are tiny glands, which are known as sebaceous glands, which are attached to the hair follicles. These glands produce an oil called sebum which helps to lubricate the hair and stop the skin from drying out.
When the glands produce too much sebum, the excess sebum mixes with dead skin cells and this forms a plug in the follicle. If this blocked follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a whitehead. If the blocked follicle is still open, then the sebum oxidises and turns black into a blackhead. Unfortunately harmless bacteria that live on the skin can then infect the blocked follicles causing pimples, pustules or cysts.
So triggers for acne are first and foremost – the male hormone testosterone increased action on producing too much sebum. Some cosmetic products – so check the packaging to see if they are non-comedogenic – don’t cause spots. Certain medications such as steroids, lithium and some drugs used to treat epilepsy. Smoking – which can contribute to acne in older people.
Sugar and dairy produce have both been linked to causing acne in young and older people.