Rosacea vs Acne


Having bumps or other abnormal appearances on the face can be frustrating to deal with. It can affect one’s outer appearance and one’s perception of themselves. This leads to a lack of confidence among individuals. 

Acne and rosacea are two commonly seen rashes on the face that are often confused with one another. While both of these conditions may appear similar, they are very different from each other.  

Both of these cause redness, bumps, and pustules on the face. However, the redness in rosacea spans across the face as opposed to acne, where it is limited to areas around the bumps. Acne, on the other hand, features more clogged pores. 

In this blog, we will look at the key differences between these two common conditions and help you decide if you would like to participate in Revival Research Institute’s dermatology clinical trials

What is Acne?

Acne is the common name given to acne vulgaris, which is a common skin disease in which hair follicles in the skin clog with dead skin cells, dirt, or oils, causing inflammation. Acne has multiple causes, including genetics, hormonal function, increased susceptibility to bacterial growth, and other causes.

Open or closed comedones and/or erythematous papules and pustules on the face, as well as erythema on the surrounding skin, are clinical signs of acne. Acneiform scarring may also occur, which may or may not be due to comedones.

What is Rosacea?

This term is a common name for acne rosacea. Like acne vulgaris, it is also a common skin disease but is characterized by redness, papules, pustules, and swelling on the face. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as acne vulgaris in its early stages and is a relapsing disorder that can be made worse by sun exposure, heat, alcohol, strong emotions, coffee, and spicy foods. 

It is clinically denoted by the intense reddening of the skin, which is due to the dilation of the superficial vessels of the face. Unlike acne vulgaris, rosacea is typically restricted to the central face (i.e., both cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin).   

This condition has multiple subtypes with the four most common being:  

Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea 

People who have this type may show: 

  • Facial flushing 
  • Redness across the nose and cheeks 
  • Visible blood vessels 

Papulopustular Rosacea

Papulopustular type may appear as:  

  • Painful, acne-like breakouts, like whiteheads 
  • Swelling 
  • Red bumps 

Ocular Rosacea

This type is limited to the eyes and may manifest as: 

  • Watery eyes 
  • Bloodshot eyes 
  • Stinging 
  • Foreign body sensations 
  • Burning 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Sensitivity to light 

Phymatous Rosacea

Phymatous is a rare type that occurs in males. People experiencing it may have: 

  • Thickened skin on the nose, chin, forehead, cheek, or ears 
  • Irregular bumps on the same areas 
  • Bulbous nose 

Symptoms of Acne:

There aren’t many people who have not experienced acne at least once in their lives. To list it down, here are some of the common symptoms of acne: 

  • Cysts 
  • Nodules 
  • Pustules 
  • Papules 
  • Blackheads and whiteheads 
  • Red, purple, or brown discoloration 
  • Itching 
  • Localized swelling 

General symptoms of Rosacea include:

Discussing the general symptoms may help with differentiating symptoms from acne. These symptoms are: 

  • Flushing or facial discoloration (usually red, brown, or purple) 
  • Skin thickening 
  • Appearance of thin blood vessels 
  • Skin flushing 
  • Bumps and pimples 
  • Burning, itching, or stinging sensation 
  • Eye irritation 
  • Dry or scaly skin 
  • Facial edema (swelling) 

How to Tell them Apart?

Although both have some common symptoms like papules and pustules, the presence of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads) is a defining feature that sets them apart. 

The intensity of discoloration is also a key difference, with acne breakouts having discoloration only directly around blemishes. Conversely, rosacea has discoloration and flushing that is widespread. 

Acne isn’t only on your face and neck; it can also be found on the back and shoulders. If your skin problems are limited to your face and neck, or if your eyes are affected, rosacea may be the culprit. 

Lastly, both of these can be triggered, causing them to intensify or flare up. Rosacea, however, is very sensitive. Even mild exposures, such as going outside in the wind or drinking a glass of wine, may aggravate your symptoms. 

Some types can take up a similar appearance to acne, but the papulopustular type is quite similar to acne. This type, once called “acne rosacea,” features facial discoloration accompanied by swollen bumps and pustules. 

Causes of these conditions

To this day, the underlying causes of both of these are not well known. 

Mainstream theories suggest rosacea as being part of a systemic inflammatory immune response or dysfunction in your nervous system and vascular system. 

Rosacea can alter innate immunity or changes to the immune environments you were born with, like your skin microbiome. Research indicates genetics may also play a part in its development for many people. 

Even though the process of how a pimple forms seems simple, acne is just as obscure, with its own set of complexities. 

Acne is thought to be influenced by several variables, including excessive oil production, bacterial development, and incorrect skin cell shedding. 

Your normal diet, puberty-related endocrine changes, and circulating hormones may all play a role. Acne may be more common in you if your parents had it or if you take certain medications.


Both conditions are very similar dermatological conditions that can cause distress to the individual who is facing them. Both of these conditions are inflammatory and thus have similar treatments like retinoids, antibiotics, laser or light therapy, and electrosurgery.  

Rosacea is a very stubborn condition that has no cure. Most of the treatments aim to manage and reduce symptoms from progressing even further. This is why Revival Research Institute is carrying out clinical trials for rosacea, intending to empower the public with novel therapeutic options that may help them. We invite participants from across the United States to our various research sites and may offer compensation for their time and travel. Our qualified team of professionals is always ready to help individuals with our range of clinical trials.  

Also Read: How Patient Recruitment Services Shape Tomorrow’s Medicine

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