When Is Acne Not Acne? These 3 Skin Conditions Are Often Mistaken For A Breakout

Is there anything more frustrating (as far as skin care goes, at least) than trying to get rid of stubborn zit? Well, yes: Finding out that particular outbreak of acne isn’t actually acne at all. Even your trustiest spot treatment won’t do anything at all if that pimple on your chin is actually some completely different type of skin condition. In fact, your go-to salicylic could be making your situation worse if you’ve accidentally self diagnosed incorrectly.

To help us avoid these sorts of annoying situations, Connecticut-based dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara has shared the three skin conditions most commonly mistaken for acne. Don’t worry: None of them are life threatening, so there’s no need to panic if you find you’ve left them un- or improperly treated.

Of course, Dr. Gohara recommends seeing your dermatologist in person to confirm the source of your symptoms before trying any of the treatments. But if you’ve had a particularly stubborn breakout recently, you can start your road to treatment with this list of these conditions commonly mistaken for acne.

Rosacea/Perioral Dermatitis

Courtesy RHOFADE

What It Looks Like: “If acne and eczema had a baby, it would be this,” Dr. Gohara says. It general manifests as pink, scaly itchy skin around the mouth, nose, eyes. There are often small papules that look like, but aren’t, acne as well.

What Causes It: Dr. Gohara says that it can flame up after “hormonal fluctuations, hot or spicy food, red wine, changes of emotions, changes in temperature, or use of multiple irritating cosmetic products.”

How To Tell It’s Not Acne: You’ll often get rosy cheeks and broken blood vessels alongside those small, pimple-like papules.

What Acne Medicine Does To It: Depending on the type of treatment, it can cause your skin to become more inflamed.

How To Treat It: First and foremost, Dr. Gohara recommends avoiding benzoyl peroxide, harsh chemicals or exfoliants, as well as the aforementioned food and alcohol that can trigger a flare up. Your dermatologist may also recommend oral or topical antibiotics, or RHOFADE to help treatment symptoms.



What It Looks Like: Dr. Gohara describes milia assmall white pearl like cysts.”

What Causes It: They often come from trauma or sun damage.

How To Tell It’s Not Acne: Though milia might look like tiny whiteheads, Dr. Gohara says they aren’t popable. They’re also super duper small and appear uniform in size.

What Acne Medicine Does To It: Using…

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