I’m a dermatologist, and this is the most misdiagnosed skin condition I see


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Photo: Getty Images/Oliver Rossi

Getting acne from rosacea is extremely confusing, because treating it like the former if you have the latter is not a good skin-care equation. It’s just like trying to exfoliate away a blackhead or pop a pimple—plain and simple, it’s not the right thing to do. (Trust.)

Knowing your unique skin condition/skin type/skin tendencies, though, is the root of most skin confusion. Misdiagnose your skin, and it can create a slew of skin woes—especially with rosacea, since those who suffer from it have very reactive, irritable skin. According to top dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, rosacea just so happens to be the skin misdiagnosis that he sees all of the time.

Why is it so hard to pinpoint? Well, it’s a really sneaky skin condition that shows up in other ways (like in the form of acne, as mentioned before). “Rosacea is a common skin condition that’s characterized by redness, bumps, and pus pimples in the central face,” says Dr. Zeichner, noting that people with the condition tend to experience flushing, burning, and sensitivity of the skin. “Because many people have pus pimples, it’s commonly confused with acne.” BTW: Here’s what to know about adult acne:

It’s hard not to want to quash your breakouts with the typical acne-fighting ingredients you know and love. But, in rosacea’s case, these ingredients will make your skin even more inflamed and irritated. “I have had countless numbers of patients come into the office to treat acne who aren’t getting better using over-the-counter ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, only to see that they have rosacea,” says Dr. Zeichner. “While these ingredients are effective in treating acne, they actually can make acne from rosacea worse.”

Though he points out that rosacea is typically caused by genetics, it’s “definitely exacerbated” by powerful skin-care products like scrubs, acids, and harsh cleansers (aka some of the products you’d use when fighting breakouts). If you suspect that you could have rosacea, it’s best to get it checked by a derm ASAP so you can figure out the gentle beauty product regimen you should use for healthier, happier skin.

Other confusing skin woes include dealing with facial skin irritation and—my personal nemesis—hormonal acne… read for the details on how to treat both. 

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