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What is the Difference Between Rosacea and Eczema?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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Rosacea and eczema are both skin conditions which cause redness and swelling, but they are both very different in many of their other characteristics. Rosacea virtually always occurs on the face, primarily on the cheeks, nose, and forehead. It is often called adult acne because it causes small bumps to appear along with inflammation, redness, and prominent veins. Eczema may appear similar, but can occur on any area of the body and it is usually accompanied by severe dry skin, itching, and scaling. They also affect different age groups, as rosacea occurs mostly in adults and eczema primarily affects children.

Both rosacea and eczema stem from unknown origins, and researchers still do not fully understand what causes either condition. It is believed that eczema may be caused by a defect in the skin or in the immune system, but the underlying cause of rosacea remains a mystery. Both have similar treatments, including heavy duty moisturizing as well as dietary changes.

Eczema occurs in up to 85% of infants, most of which outgrow the condition by the age of three. One to two percent may deal with the condition throughout their lives. Rosacea is less common and onset usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. Females are more likely to experience both conditions.

Sometimes rosacea and eczema can be mistaken for one another by patients, but a trained dermatologist can generally tell the difference just by looking at them. Both can appear red or inflamed, but eczema is normally drier and scaly while rosacea is bumpy and usually darker in color. Neither can be spread through physical contact with others, although there is some evidence to suggest that they are hereditary.

Another difference between rosacea and eczema is that anyone can be affected by eczema, while rosacea primarily affects Caucasians with fair skin. Rosacea also generally has certain triggers which may cause symptoms to flare up, such as hot beverages, sun exposure, and embarrassment. Eczema may also be triggered, usually by using certain products and sometimes by certain foods. There is some evidence which links eczema to mild food allergies.

Both rosacea and eczema occurring in adults are chronic conditions, meaning patients generally must deal with them off and on for their entire lives. They normally experience periods of remission in which symptoms are less bothersome, and sometimes irritation may go away entirely. Treatments generally include topical ointments to moisturize the skin and lessen inflammation. Dietary changes may also be needed if certain foods trigger symptoms.

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Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Aug 20, 2014

@raynbow- I have rosacea, and get laser treatments for it whenever the redness and bumps flare up. I have found the treatment to be much more effective than using medications.

Having rosacea treated with a laser is safe, but only in the hands of a qualified doctor. If your sister decides to have laser treatments, make sure that she asks her healthcare provider to show her his or her credentials for using this treatment, or to refer her to a doctor that is qualified in treating patients with lasers.

There is very little discomfort associated with laser treatments. After your sister has her treatments, she should expect her face to be red and tingly. This only lasts a day or so. She should notice some instant results, but may have to have several laser treatments for the best results.

Your sister should also keep in mind that insurance may not pay for rosacea laser treatments. Though more costly than most medications, I think your sister will find that the results she gets from laser treatments will be worth the cost.

By Raynbow — On Aug 19, 2014

My sister has rosacea, and hasn't had much success with traditional treatments such as dietary changes and cortisone. She heard that laser treatment for rosacea works very well, and is thinking about giving it a try. I'm concerned about its effectiveness and safety. Does anyone have first-hand experience with having rosacea treated by lasers, and if so what are your thoughts about this treatment?

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