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What Is the Difference Between Rosacea and Dermatitis?

Laundry soap can cause dermatitis.
Poison ivy, which causes contact dermatitis.
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  • Written By: Lumara Lee
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 March 2014
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Rosacea and dermatitis are inflammatory skin diseases. Some of the symptoms are similar, and facial dermatitis might closely resemble rosacea, but there are a few differences. Only facial inflammation is involved in rosacea, and dermatitis can affect the skin anywhere on the body. Rosacea can affect the blood vessels close to the skin’s surface, causing the appearance of small, red lines, but dermatitis does not do this. Although rosacea and dermatitis might appear together, they are unrelated and require different treatments.

The most common symptoms of rosacea include flushed, rosy skin; visible veins; burning or stinging; a red, enlarged nose; and small facial bumps that resemble acne pimples. An advanced case of rosacea can affect the eyes and cause burning, grittiness, dryness and sensitivity to light. The cause of this skin disease is unknown, but it is believed that heredity and the environment are factors. Flare-ups might occur because of stress, temperature extremes, spicy foods, alcohol, sunlight and some medications.

There are various types of dermatitis, and it is believed that this skin disorder is also caused by genetic and environmental factors. A common type is contact dermatitis, which results when the skin comes in contact with a chemical to which the person is allergic. Poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac are the most common causes, but some other plants, metals, soaps, chlorine and other substances can also cause contact dermatitis. Symptoms include a rash with raised bumps or blisters, and itching, pain, swelling and tenderness also might occur.

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Another type of dermatitis is seborrheic dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the oil glands. This skin disease can appear in the eyebrows, on the forehead, inside the ear, on the scalp and around the nose. When this disease occurs on an infant’s scalp, it is called cradle cap.

The most common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are greasy or yellow patches of skin, flaky dandruff on the scalp and scaly patches that sometimes have a burning or itchy sensation. The exact cause of this condition hasn’t been determined, but experts believe that heredity and the environment play a role. Flare-ups might be caused by hormonal fluctuations, stress and extreme temperatures.

A dermatologist will be able to diagnose and treat rosacea and dermatitis. Although there are no cures for rosacea and dermatitis, the symptoms can be managed with medication. A person with these skin conditions can help prevent occurrences by avoiding the known triggers.

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Discuss this Article

bear78
Post 3

I think rosacea and dermatitis are more similar than we realize because I've been diagnosed with both rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis by different doctors.

I've however come to the conclusion that I have rosacea because my skin worsens after exposure sunlight. If I had dermatitis, it wouldn't react so badly to sunlight.

burcidi
Post 2

@simrin-- It's kind of difficult to answer this because doctors are still researching the causes of rosacea as well as causes of different types of contact dermatitis.

As far as I know, rosacea has to do with the immune system and some forms of dermatitis are also related to the immune system, like spongiotic dermatitis.

Contact dermatitis is mainly an allergic reaction which is an immune system reaction and a weak immune system does contribute to the chances of developing it.

So I think that the causes of rosacea and dermatitis can be inter-related, but they're not the same. Some of the treatments can be the same though. Some rosacea products and treatments contain the same ingredients that dermatitis treatments contain.

SteamLouis
Post 1

Are rosacea symptoms caused by allergies, like contact dermatitis?

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