It can be hard to distinguish between different rashes on the face but treatment is different for different conditions, so it’s important to know what they look like!
First off, it’s important to say that ‘acne rosacea’ is a bit of a confusing and outdated term! When people talk about ‘acne rosacea’, they’re generally meaning the subtype of rosacea that appears most like acne. It’s more correctly known as papulopustular rosacea, aka rosacea subtype 2, and isn’t actually acne at all, though it does have some features in common.
So what is papulopustular rosacea? It has several distinguishing characteristics in common with both rosacea and acne, but it’s important to get a correct diagnosis, as some acne treatment will make rosacea worse.
Like all rosacea, papulopustular rosacea is a chronic inflammatory condition. It’s more common in women than men, and in those with pale skin. It tends to come in waves, and is triggered by the same irritants as other types of rosacea: heat, sunshine, spicy food, emotional stress, and alcohol being the most common.
Some symptoms of papulopustular rosacea:
- Flushing* across the middle of the face (cheeks, nose, chin, around the mouth)
- Persistent redness*
- Hot, itchy sensations
- Puffiness across the face
What makes papulopustular rosacea different from acne, which it can obviously resemble, is that the bumps, pimples and pustules of rosacea aren’t ‘comedones’, as they are in acne. That means blackheads and whiteheads are symptoms of acne, not rosacea.
The other difference is that rosacea is generally confined to the middle zone of the face - most commonly the cheeks, nose, around the mouth, but also up to the eyes and, less commonly, the forehead - whereas acne can also appear on the back, shoulders and chest.
If you’re unsure about what the rash on your face actually is, get a medical diagnosis! The triggers and treatment for acne and rosacea are different, and some treatments for one condition can aggravate the other, so it’s really important to be sure.
*While rosacea is most common in people of Irish, English, Scottish and Scandinavian ethnicities, it does occasionally occur in people of BAME backgrounds too, in which case, it would more likely appear as bumps, pustules and a sensation of heat rather than the visible flushing on paler skin.
It’s important to get an expert diagnosis from a dermatologist or doctor so that you’re give the right treatment, but do check out our article on The Best Natural Treatment For Acne Rosacea for management strategies at home.
Recommended products for skin prone to papulopustular rosacea:
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream with shea butter, calendula and hemp (from £13.99 for 100ml): a nourishing but non-comedogenic daily moisturiser, for use anywhere on the body, face and hands.
Balmonds Cooling Cream with shea, menthol, aloe vera & lavender (£19 for 100ml); a light lotion designed to take the heat out of flushed skin.
Balmonds Intensive Facial Oil with rosehip, calendula, lavender & chamomile (£22 for 30ml): a rich, regenerative oil to help balance and restore sensitive skin.
Balmonds Scalp Oil with tea tree, nettle, hemp, borage & rosemary (£14.99 for 50ml): apply as an antimicrobial topical cleansing oil, dabbing on spots as required.
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.