Eczema and rosacea are common skin conditions. The one main similarity between them is that both are inflammatory skin conditions. Other skin conditions that can be confused with the two are psoriasis and acne.
Neither rosacea nor eczema is fatal. Both conditions can in fact be left to heal naturally or be treated at home. Even so, medical treatment can be of importance. This is because their symptoms are often very uncomfortable. Affected skin areas can also become infected and thus lead to complications.
Atopic eczema is the most common of all eczema types. It is the one mainly featured in this article.
What is the difference between eczema and rosacea?
As to the comparison on what is the difference between eczema and rosacea, the following categories are identifiable:
It is not known what exactly causes eczema. Experts associate it with hereditary factors. People with asthma and hay fever have higher chances of developing the condition. Children born to parents with atopic eczema are also more likely to develop the condition.
Just like eczema, the actual causes of rosacea are not known. Again, it tends to occur more in certain family lines.
For eczema, the following can trigger flares:
- Dry skin
- Irritants, e.g. nickel, alkalines, acids, cigarette smoke, detergents, soaps, fabrics like wool or polyester
- Allergens, e.g. medicines like neomycin, foods like eggs, pollen, dust mite, pets
- Physical or emotional stress
- Warm and wet or humid weather conditions
- Skin infections
For rosacea, the following are potential triggers:
- Dry skin
- Medications such as interferon
- Prolonged exposure to sun
- Injuries to skin
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Alcohol containing cosmetics
- Foods; caffeine, spicy or hot foods
- Extreme temperatures
Rosacea vs eczema
More cases of rosacea are reported in women than in men. The condition is also more common in fair-skinned people.
The face is mostly affected. Initial symptoms appear on the center of the face. With time, they will spread to chin, forehead, nose, cheeks and behind ears. Severe cases may also affect the eyes and spread to the chest or back.
Most cases are reported during times of hormonal fluctuations. All the same, rosacea can occur at any age.
There are about 11 types of eczema. Atopic eczema is the most common type. It usually develops during infancy, before the sixth month after birth.
Eczema in toddlers symptoms appear on cheeks and scalp. In babies and children, symptoms are common on elbows, knees, face and scalp. In adults, they can appear anywhere but mostly on arms, hands, legs, feet, face, neck and back.
Pictures of rosacea and eczema on the face pictures can help a lot with self-diagnosis. All the same, a dermatologist will be on the best position to correctly identify any skin condition you may be dealing with.
Rosacea vs eczema symptoms
The first symptoms of rosacea usually are flushing and blushing. With time, affected areas will redden and feel hot. Papules and sometimes pustules may appear depending on treatment. Since rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition, affected areas will swell.
The main identifiable characteristic of rosacea flares is appearance of spider-like blood vessels. If left untreated, the blood vessels will enlarge and become easily visible.
Itchiness is usually the first and most persistent symptom of eczema. Burning sensation may also be felt on the itchy skin regions. A day or two after the onset of the itch, red and dry skin patches will appear. Depending on treatment administered, the patches may:
- Dry more
- Become scaled
- Form blisters
- Ooze fluid
If infected, yellow crusts will appear. Other signs of bacterial infection include red streaks, pus, tenderness, pain, fever and fatigue.
Rosacea vs eczema complications
- Ocular rosacea – patients experience a stinging and burning effect in or around eyes. The eyes may also feel gritty. Vision impairment may occur without proper treatment.
- Rhinophyma – occurs in men with chronic rosacea. It causes swelling on the nose and cheeks. Severe cases require surgery for treatment.
- Infection – staphylococcus aureus bacteria often infects eczema and leads to complications in treatment. Contact with herpes simplex virus may also lead to eczema herpeticum, a serious eczema type that requires antiviral medications. Small pox vaccines may also cause complications especially in children with atopic eczema.
- Recurrence and skin damage – eczema is chronic. This means that even after treatment, it will likely come back when triggered. Some types such as nummular and discoid eczema may cause skin damage and scarring if left untreated.
Rosacea vs eczema treatments
Topical treatment options are most popular when it comes to curing rosacea. They include:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Antifungal and antibiotics
Flushing due to rosacea can be treated with beta-blockers. These are blood pressure medications, and so should be used with consent of a doctor.
Laser treatment can be used to treat severe cases of rosacea. In this case, small jolts of electricity are used to kill off inflamed blood vessels.
Topical steroids and moisturizing creams are commonly used for eczema treatment. Prescription pills or injections with steroids are necessary for severe cases.
Other treatment options for eczema include:
- Antihistamines – these are anti-itch medications. They help ease itch associated with eczema and address sleeplessness.
- Antibiotics – they are only necessary if eczema is infected by bacteria. Antibiotics are available in topical creams and prescription pills.
- Phototherapy – it involves controlled exposure. UVB rays are commonly used, although natural sunlight is still an option. Phototherapy is an effective nummular eczema treatment. This is because nummular eczema tends to be chronic and can leave scars.
Both conditions can be managed at home through self-care measures as well as home remedies. For example, aloe Vera and witch hazel are effective dyshidrotic eczema home remedies. Colloidal oatmeal baths on the other hand can help with how to get rid of eczema on elbows, back and the neck.
The best treatment approach, however, is to talk with your dermatologist. You will not only be advised on how to get rid of both of them but also on how to prevent flare-ups.