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Rosacea Vs. Acne: How To Spot The Difference 

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So, you’re dealing with some red facial pimples, spots, and bumps across your face and you’re wondering if it’s rosacea or acne? Luckily, there are a few sure-fire ways to tell these two skin conditions apart. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about spotting the difference between rosacea vs. acne.  

Determining which type of rosacea you have

Rosacea can be easily confused with acne as this skin condition can cause pustules, redness, skin inflammation, and bumpy skin texture -- not dissimilar to acne. However, rosacea and acne vulgaris are not the same conditions and should be treated differently. 

There are 2 main subtypes of facial rosacea: 

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea or ETR (type 1)
  • Papulopustular rosacea (type 2) 

Type 1 is characterized by facial flushing, redness, and visible blood vessels.

Type 2 is characterized by acne-like breakouts. This type is most commonly confused with acne. 

You can also experience a blend of both type 1 and type 2

Since type 2 rosacea can appear similar to acne breakouts, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference. Keep scrolling for the main differences between rosacea and acne. 

What’s the difference between rosacea and acne?

Rosacea is considered an incurable auto-inflammatory skin disease. Unlike acne, you can’t “outgrow” rosacea. While acne affects mostly teenagers and young adults, rosacea most commonly affects those over 30.

Triggers of these conditions differ as well.

Acne is generally triggered by internal factors such as hormones, while rosacea is triggered by external facts such as diet, environment, temperature, sunlight, and topical products. 

Rosacea vs Acne: how to tell them apart 

Both acne and rosacea can cause acne-like breakouts. With acne, you can experience whiteheads, blackheads, cysts, and nodules. With rosacea type 2, you might see whitehead pustules, but you won’t see blackhead comedones, cysts, or nodules.  

So, if you’re trying to determine if you have acne or rosacea -- look to see if you have any blackhead comedones within your breakout. If you do, it might not be rosacea. This is a good rule of thumb that dermatologists use to diagnose rosacea type 2. 

Another unique characteristic of rosacea type 2 is the occurrences of “plaques”. These are red, scaly, raised patches of the skin. This not seen in those with acne vulgaris. 

Rosacea type 2, historically referred to as “acne rosacea” causes

  • Persistent flushing and redness of the skin
  • Acne-like breakouts of pustules or papules
  • Plaques - Raised red patches 
  • Skin warmness
  • Visible blood vessels
  • Contrary to acne, there are no blackheads 
  • Patients with this subtype might also experience irritation symptoms like burning or stinging 

The ultimate rosacea vs. acne cheat sheet

Comparing acne vs. rosacea type 2

Rosacea type 2 treatment 

So, if you’re thinking you might have rosacea type 2 -- you might also be asking “what now?”

Rosacea is not curable, but it can be largely controlled with the proper interventions. It’s best to treat rosacea earlier rather than later as without interventions, rosacea can worsen over time. 

Here at Strut Health, we treat both rosacea subtypes 1 and 2. Our team creates custom rosacea formulas for our patients who have seen great success. 

“As soon as I started using the rosacea formula my face calmed down tremendously. Even my esthetician commented on how much better my face looked after roughly a week of using it. I love this stuff!” -- W, a Strut Health patient

For those with type 2 rosacea, we’ve created a formula that can keep redness at bay, reduce swelling, inflammation, and the number of pustules. Our formula utilizes prescription-strength azelaic acid, topical antibiotic metronidazole, and ivermectin.

Unlike other formulas, ours was created to be the most cost-effective rosacea treatment on the market. 

If you want to try our custom-made rosacea formulas, simply complete a questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation to see if our treatments are right for you. 

If our doctors find a custom product would be a good fit for you, we’ll ship your prescription to your doorstep.

Article summary

Acne and rosacea type 2 can appear very similar -- rosacea type 2 has even been widely referred to as “acne rosacea”. However, there are some tell-tale signs that could point to rosacea vs. acne. If you are dealing with rosacea, there are ways to keep this condition under control, reduce redness and acne-like breakouts. 


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