A comparison of Acne Vulgaris vs. Acne Rosacea

Acne or rosacea?

Acne vulgaris and acne rosacea are two commonly confused skin conditions. While it is possible to experience both acne and rosacea simultaneously (and some remedies do help both congruently), it is important to determine your exact skin condition to ensure proper treatment. So, which skin condition is affecting you?

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Quick look: acne vulgaris

Usually seen in teens and young adults, acne vulgaris (normal acne) is often caused by hormonal imbalance, resulting in inflammation, redness and pore blockages presenting as whiteheads or blackheads. If you’re not sure exactly how acne occurs, check out our About Acne page, which goes through the full lifecycle of a pimple.

Quick look: acne rosacea

Sometimes called “adult acne,” acne rosacea is a chronic disorder involving burst blood vessels in the face, which in the early phases may be mistaken for acne vulgaris.

  • Symptoms include flushing, redness and bumps, and in more serious cases, the nose and cheeks may become swollen and disfigured.
  • Thought to be genetically predisposed, individuals with fair complexions tend to be more susceptible to rosacea.

Why are acne and rosacea often confused?

The most common reason is appearance. Both acne and rosacea can present as overall redness, raised spots, and even cysts.

The major differences between acne and rosacea:

  • Age. The majority of individuals experiencing acne vulgaris are teens and young adults. Rosacea typically appears in patients 30 and older.
  • Affected area. It is common for acne vulgaris to appear in a number of areas including the face, back, shoulders, arms, and buttocks. Rosacea usually only affects the face. Most notably the T-zone and cheeks.
  • Blemish type. Unlike acne vulgaris, the pimples in rosacea do not develop into comedones (white/blackheads) or pimples. Instead they appear as surface redness or raised red spots.
  • Ocular symptoms. Rosecea can also cause eye problem, such as eyelid irritation and a gritty feeling in the eyes.

What’s the next step?

Common treatments for both acne vulgaris and acne rosacea include oral and topical anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. If your acne or rosacea is preventing you from normal activity, it might be time to consult with a dermatologist, who will start you on a treatment plan based on your skin type.

  • If acne rosacea is suspected, head to ZocDoc to schedule an in-office visit with a dermatologist. There are no specific products for self-treatment of rosacea, so it is important to get prescription medication from a professional.
  • If your symptoms match that of acne vulgaris, consulting a dermatologist is also optimal. If you live in California, you can get an online consultation and have a prescription medication by the next business day. If not, head over to ZocDoc and schedule an appointment.

YoDerm is the only way to get a prescription medication safely and legally online. Each of our dermatologists are board-certified and will treat your acne within 24 hours. If you’re struggling to get clear, click here, and let us help you.


  1. Kenny, Tim, and Laurence Knott. “Rosacea- Acne Symptoms.” Web log post. Health Information. Patient.co.uk, 14 June 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <https://www.patient.co.uk/health/Rosacea.htm>.
  2. Pray, Joshua J., and W. Steven Pray. “Differentiating Between Rosacea and Acne.” Web log post. Medscape Multispeciality. Medscape.com, 29 Apr. 2004. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/475331>.
  3. “Difference Between Rosacea and Acne.” Rosacea Treatment Truth. Rosaceatreatmenttruth.com, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <https://rosaceatreatmenttruth.com/difference-rosacea-acne.html>.
  4. Kazmeyer, Milton. “Difference Between Acne & Rosacea.” LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 26 Sept. 2010. Web. 26 Nov. 2013. <https://www.livestrong.com/article/259200-difference-between-acne-rosacea/>.

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