Adults get acne, too, but sometimes breakouts that appear to be acne are actually caused by rosacea. In this post we describe the differences in the two kinds of breakouts and what you can do about them.

Do you have red, inflamed bumps on your skin? Often, when such bumps appear, people assume they’re dealing with acne. Adult acne does happen, but sometimes, inflamed bumps are a symptom of rosacea. Understanding which you’re dealing with can make it easier to get the right treatment.  

A kalon Dermatology in Brooklyn, New York, our expert providers treat both rosacea and adult acne and have deep experience with both. Whatever the cause of your red bumps, we can likely help. In this post we describe some of the differences between the two, as well as the best way to determine what’s causing your bumps.  

Adult acne

Once you’re past puberty, you probably expect the acne to stop. Unfortunately, for some folks, that’s not what happens. It’s possible to get acne in your 30s, 40s, and 50s. Some people, especially women experiencing menopause, get acne for the first time as adults.  

Changing hormone levels, stress, a family history of adult-onset acne, some medications, and certain medical conditions can all lead to acne during adulthood. Most of the causes of adult acne are internal — and often unavoidable without intervention. You can’t stop hormone fluctuations without medication, for example.  

One of the differences between acne and rosacea is that acne almost always involves clogged pores called comedones. Comedones aren’t always easy to identify, especially if some of the bumps on your skin are inflamed and swollen. 


For many people with rosacea, the main symptom is a flush, or even the tendency to blush easily. There are four subtypes of rosacea:

Papulopustular rosacea is the subtype that’s most often mistaken for adult acne. It usually occurs in response to some kind of external trigger, such as cold weather, sunlight, hot weather, hot beverages, spicy foods, or others. Triggers are different for everyone, but identifying yours can help.  

One of the biggest differences between adult acne and rosacea is that no comedones are involved in rosacea. However, it’s not always easy to tell whether the bumps on your face are comedones.  

Getting help

Whether you have adult acne or rosacea, the best thing to do is schedule an appointment with a skilled dermatologist. Excellent treatments exist for both conditions, and it’s possible to have both at once.

Understanding the cause of your breakouts means that you can begin to take steps to stop them, whether that means using a pharmaceutical treatment or avoiding your triggers. Schedule an appointment by phone or online at kalon Dermatology today and find out why you’re breaking out — and what you can do about it.

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