Acne and eczema are both skin conditions that can cause inflamed skin, but how can you be sure which you’ve got?
Acne is characterised by spots on oily areas of the body, places that produce sebum such as the face, hairline and back.
It’s caused by an overproduction of the natural oils in the skin, which clog up the narrow passages from oil-producing glands to the surface of the skin. These blocked glands cause bumps or spots, which can get infected and end up hot and sore. You will often see that acne spots often have pus in them.
Eczema, on the other hand, is an inflammatory condition, characterised by overreaction to triggers and a faulty skin barrier, with skin getting dry, itchy and inflamed.
It can look very different on different people, and can appear anywhere on the body, though it’s most often found on hands, arms, legs and the middle of the body. Eczema often looks very dry, and cracked, but can also be recognised as patches of raised, bumpy, rashy skin, that looks different in colour and texture to unaffected areas. Eczema very often feels extremely itchy, leading to scratching skin until broken.
So a simple way of telling them apart is that acne usually manifests as spots which occur on oily skin, and eczema usually manifests as itchy patches on dry skin.
But eczema can appear on the face, and can get infected, which means it shows up as pustular spots not that different in appearance to acne. If this is the case, it’s best to get a medical opinion from your doctor, and be aware that some acne treatments irritate eczematous skin, and some eczema treatments can trigger acne! And in some unfortunate instances, someone can get both acne and eczema at the same time. For more information about acne and eczema occurring together see our article Can You Get Eczema And Acne At The Same Time?
Looking after your skin
Whether your skin is suffering from acne, eczema or both together, you’ll need to pick skincare that will care for your sensitive skin gently; luckily all our products are free from the heavy, pore-clogging oils that can exacerbate acne and full of the low-comedogenic oils that will nourish thirsty eczema-prone skin! Pick balms for dry or itchy areas, creams and oils (counterintuitively!) for oily skin on the face.
Skin Salvation with beeswax, hemp & calendula (from £7.99 for 30ml)
Balmonds Scalp Oil with tea tree, borage & rosemary (£14.99 for 50ml)
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter, hemp & chamomile (from £13.99 for 100ml)
Balmonds Cooling Cream with menthol, aloe & lavender (£19 for 100ml)
Balmonds Natural Shampoo & Body Wash with nettle & calendula (£19 for 200ml)
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.