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Rashes and Rosacea: What Makes These Skin Conditions Different?

Did you know that almost 16 million people in the U.S. have rosacea, but it’s likely many of them don’t even know? Here are a few key symptoms you should look for if you aren’t sure if you have a rash or rosacea.

Facial Redness

Facial redness is one of the key early rosacea symptoms, but it might not always be attributed to rosacea. Say, for example, you just stepped out of a hot shower or rubbed your face with a towel. In these instances, your face might be red, but that redness would go away shortly. If redness persists beyond normal rates and returns frequently, you could be dealing with rosacea. Of course, other types of rashes cause skin redness, too. Heat rash and sunburn are two types of skin rashes that also cause redness. This redness may also be present on the face, depending on the affected area. If you’re still not sure whether it’s a rash or rosacea, look for small blood vessels on your nose and cheeks. Rosacea causes enlargement of these blood vessels, which often makes them visible on the skin.

Swollen Red Bumps

This symptom can get a little bit tricky because there are many different types of rashes that develop swollen red bumps on the skin. Acne, for example, is commonly mistaken for rosacea and vice versa. This alone is a good reason to see one of our dermatologists — without a proper diagnosis, you may end up using over-the-counter products to treat the wrong issue. Another complicating factor is that, like acne, the red bumps that rosacea causes often contain pus, just like pimples. Fortunately, there are ways to help you differentiate between the two before coming in for a diagnosis. First, rosacea doesn’t come with the blackheads that you often see associated with acne. In addition, acne can occur on the shoulders, back, and chest, while rosacea typically only affects the face.

Dry or Irritated Eyelids

In some cases, rosacea can affect the eyes and eyelids. This most typically takes the form of red, irritated, dry, or swollen eyelids. Unfortunately, this can also happen if you’re experiencing an allergic rash or you have a skin sensitivity. For example, if you’re using over-the-counter acne treatments — most of which have salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide in them — and medication gets on or near your eyelid, the sensitive skin there will often react pretty severely. The key to differentiating between a rash and rosacea here is to identify a root cause. If you can identify a change in your skincare routine or something similar that directly caused irritation or dryness on your eyelids, it’s likely not rosacea. If, however, you’re experiencing issues with vision and your eyes appear bloodshot, it may be worth getting a medical diagnosis. In some cases, ocular rosacea symptoms precede more prominent facial symptoms like redness.

It can be tough to differentiate between a rash and rosacea sometimes. If you notice any of the symptoms we covered in this blog, contact SE Dermatology Specialists to consult with one of our doctors today.

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