By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Acne rosacea is a separate condition to acne but describes the acne-like symptoms that can occur with rosacea. In individuals with stage 2 rosacea, acneiform lesions may be visible. Rosacea patients may also develop common acne.
Acne occurring in a person with rosacea
Surveys from the National Rosacea Society have shown that patients with rosacea are more prone to acne. The exact cause for this is not known but rosacea patients may be more susceptible to acne due to alterations in the amount and composition of the sebum their skin glands secrete, which is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the skin barrier and breaking down bacteria.
Acne rosacea is unrelated to acne, although it may be mistaken for acne. Acne rosacea is typically characterized by red and thickened skin over the nose and cheeks that has developed red bumps or papules and blister-like pus filled lesions called pustules. Facial skin may also be painful.
Known trigger factors for acne rosacea include stress, hot drinks, spicy food, alcohol, exposure to sun and hot or cold weather. Overuse of creams or lotions containing steroids is also thought to increase the risk for acne rosacea.
The symptoms of acne rosacea may "flare up" in response to trigger factors, so management of the condition usually focuses on the avoidance of these. However, trigger factors may vary somewhat from one individual to another, so assessment of the condition needs to be patientspecific before recommendations are made.
Cosmetics and cleansing
Rosacea sufferers need to carefully consider which facial cosmetics and cleansing products they use, and should only select products for sensitive skin that do not contain irritants. Oilbased make up and preparations should be avoided completely.
Other management strategies
Patients should minimize their exposure to stress as well as practising meditation and relaxation techniques or attending counselling to help them cope with stress. Oral or topical antibiotics are sometimes prescribed by physicians to help relieve papules, pustules, and inflammation.
Acneiform lesions in Stage II rosacea
Rosacea may cause lesions that are similar in appearance to acne and this most commonly occurs during stage 2 of the condition, which develops around one year after stage 1. Unlike stage 1, where the facial redness tends to fade away after each flare-up, when a patient has stage 2 rosacea, the face remains red even after flushing has finished and becomes a permanent feature of the person's appearance. The redness may extend from the face to the scalp, neck, chest, back and even palms of the hands.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Sep 22, 2013