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The Difference Between Acne And Rosacea: How To Treat Both

Acne Treatment, Acne Spot Treatment Singapore

The Difference Between Acne And Rosacea: How To Treat Both

Do you frequently experience redness and pimples on your face that you immediately assume is just another acne breakout?

While you could be right, these symptoms could also signify a similar-looking condition known as rosacea.

There’s a reason why rosacea used to be called “acne rosacea”–both acne vulgaris and rosacea come with unsightly pimples, swelling and redness.

To be clear, there is NO connection between the two and they should be diagnosed and treated as two separate conditions.

So, if you have been wondering why your acne treatment isn’t showing results, it could be that you have misdiagnosed the blemishes on your face.

Acne vs Rosacea: what’s the difference?

As mentioned earlier, acne and rosacea both share similar symptoms; however, they also have distinct characteristics that sets them apart.

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between acne and rosacea:

  Acne Rosacea
Main Cause Clogged pores that result in inflammation. Largely unknown but is linked to a defect in the body’s natural immune system.
Distribution Primarily affects the face. Can also appear on the chest, back and shoulders. Primarily affects the central part of the face, i.e., the cheeks, nose, forehead and chin.
Age Mostly appears during teenage years or adolescence. Mostly develops after 30 years old.
Symptoms · Open or closed comedones. Papules, pustules and cysts may also be present depending on the severity of acne.

· Redness or swelling due to inflammation.

· Scarring may be present.



· Papules and pustules that does NOT come with open or closed comedones.

· Eyes may be dry, itchy, red and swollen.

· In rare cases, the nose becomes bulbous from excess tissue.

· Burning or stinging sensation on the face

· Persistent flushing and redness on the face.

· Visible blood vessels (telangiectasia)

Triggers Internal e.g. hormonal changes during menstrual cycle or pregnancy External e.g. sun exposure, strong emotions, alcohol, caffeine and spicy foods

Similar to acne, there are several types of rosacea, namely:

  • Erythematotelangiectatic rosacea: redness and flushing of the face with telangiectasia.
  • Papulopustular rosacea: redness and swelling with acne-like lesions.
  • Phymatous rosacea: thickening of the skin that results in irregular skin texture and enlargement of the nose.
  • Ocular rosacea: redness and irritation in the eyes with swollen eyelids.

The most common type of rosacea is type 2, or papulopustular rosacea–the type that looks the most like acne.

Important to note is that although there is redness seen in acne patients, it does not come with visible blood vessels and is often isolated to the pimple or lesion itself. It is important to distinguish between the two before deciding on your treatment options as certain acne medications such as retinoids can often be too harsh and aggravate rosacea symptoms–making it well-worth to consult a doctor if you are unsure.

Treatment options for Acne and Rosacea

The treatment options for both conditions can sometimes overlap–the first line of treatment is often topical and oral medications to help alleviate any symptoms.

For acne, the goal of treatment is to soothe inflammation, destroy the P.acnes bacteria and reduce sebum production. On the other hand, the aim of rosacea treatment is to reduce redness and remove visible blood vessels.

It is not uncommon to see oral antibiotics and isotretinoin–a powerful acne treatment being used to treat rosacea.

However, isotretinoin and antibiotics have gotten a lot of bad rep in recent years due to the possibility of adverse side effects. This is why laser therapy has quickly become the go-to treatment option for patients with acne and rosacea.

A 2004 study showed that using a pulsed dye laser such as Vbeam is effective in improving the symptoms of rosacea. Using the most advanced pulsed dye laser technology, it works by directly targeting the haemoglobin in the blood by emitting light at optimal wavelengths (595nm) to penetrate and collapse thevisible, tiny red blood vessels. In fact, Vbeam also works wonders as an acne spot treatment as well!

The treatment takes just 20–30 minutes and depending on your case, 2-4 sessions are enough to see a 50-75% reduction in redness!

There currently isn’t a cure for rosacea; however, timely treatment can help to control and reduce your symptoms dramatically. More importantly is to complement your treatment plan by avoiding your specific triggers such as extreme temperatures, vigorous exercise and the use of certain cosmetic products.

In fact, it is entirely possible for a patient to have both acne and rosacea at the same time, which means that your treatment should ideally be customized to your needs and utilize a combination approach.

Treating Acne and Rosacea @ The Clifford Clinic

If you aren’t seeing any results with over-the-counter medications or you notice your symptoms getting worse–it is pertinent that you book an appointment to visit a dermatologist as soon as possible, as any damage caused by rosacea can become permanent.

At The Clifford Clinic, we like the use the Vbeam and Q-switch lasers to help treat severe and persistent redness and constrict blood vessels. The American Academy of Dermatologists reported that lasers used to treat visible blood vessels provide excellent results that can last up to 5 years!

We also offer the FDA-approved Q-switch laser that excels at lightening pigmentation and vascular scars. The laser also stimulates collagen production to improve the quality and texture of your skin and can be used for acne scar removal.

With a combined experience of over 40 years, we have over 10 different technologies at our disposal that our doctors are able to combine to boost the effects of your rosacea and acne laser treatment. This includes AGNES–a permanent cure for acne that shows excellent results in even the most stubborn cystic acne cases.

We make sure to maintain our treatment at very competitive prices without compromising on quality. Every treatment is done with your goals and comfort in mind– with our help, there’s no need to work your way around treatments that don’t deliver results!

It’s time to put your best face forward–call us to book your consultation today!


  • Why should I choose Vbeam to treat rosacea?

Vbeam is currently the industry gold-standard laser for treating rosacea. It is also ideal for any red or brown pigmentation caused by acne scarring. There are currently many pulsed dye/vascular lasers in the market but Vbeam is the most advanced, precise and comfortable technology with minimal side effects.

  • Is Vbeam safe?

Pulsed dye lasers at the 595nm wavelength have been used to treat rosacea for over 30 years and have been reported in over 300 published papers with no adverse side effects reported.

It is normal to notice redness and some swelling after the treatment, although these symptoms typically reside within 1–3 days.

  • What is the treatment like?

After assessing and cleansing your skin, our doctor will calibrate the laser and set the correct parameters to customize your treatment. He will then proceed to apply the laser across the targeted areas. You will be expected to put on protective eyewear and no anaesthesia is required for this treatment.

Majority of patients report minimal discomfort during treatment, and with the help of Vbeam’s Dynamic Cooling Device™ (DCD™) to help cool your skin before each laser pulse–this helps to protect your skin while ensuring maximum comfort.

There is also no downtime with Vbeam. You will be able to notice results from the first treatment with greater improvements after several treatments where your skin feels tighter and firmer due to the stimulation of collagen production. Our doctors can also combine your treatment with the Q-switch laser for synergistic results!

Results typically last anywhere from 3–5 years, where you can then consider coming back for maintenance treatments every 6 months.

  • Am I a good candidate for Vbeam?

Vbeam is suitable for the majority of patients looking to reduce and remove red and brown pigmented lesions, visible blood vessels, port wine stains, spider veins, sun spots and even stretch marks.

However, this treatment is not advisable for patients who are pregnant, has taken anti-acne medications like Accutane within the past 6 months or currently have a tan.

Regardless, our doctors will further advise you on the best treatment options during your consultation.