Eczema Vs Rosacea: What Is The Difference?

Eczema and rosacea can look similar. They also have similar symptoms which can make it confusing to tell them apart. Eczema and rosacea are both chronic conditions and while they share similar symptoms, they have their differences.

Eczema typically starts at a young age but it can also begin at any age. Some symptoms of eczema are dry and red skin, itchiness, and papules. Eczema usually appears on the cheeks, arms, hands, feet, or back of the knees. Meanwhile, rosacea typically begins after age 30. Rosacea symptoms also include redness of the face, papules, thickening of the skin, and rashes. Rosacea mostly appears on the nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead.

If you have these symptoms but are not sure if it is eczema or rosacea, this article will talk about the difference between these two chronic skin conditions. We will talk about their symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is for informational purposes only. If you experience or have symptoms of eczema and/or rosacea, consult your doctor about your medical concerns.

Eczema Vs Rosacea

Eczema and rosacea are chronic skin conditions and most people confuse one with the other as both have very similar symptoms. While eczema and rosacea can have similar symptoms, these two skin conditions are different from each other. They also have different causes and treatments.


Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic skin condition most commonly seen in children. However, adults can also develop eczema [1]. It is a skin condition that causes you to have dry and itchy skin.

The outermost layer of our skin, also known as the skin barrier, protects the body from external threats or outside elements such as infectious agents, bacteria, chemicals, and loss of water [2].  People who have eczema typically have a weak skin barrier which causes skin inflammation, redness, and itchiness. Since the skin barrier function is weak, this causes water to escape from the skin easily and cause the skin to be dehydrated.

Eczema does not exclusively appear on the face. For infants, eczema typically appears on their cheeks, knees, back, and elbows. However, eczema can also change location as you age. It can also appear on your arms, hands, feet, and back of the knees.

Symptoms of eczema can start as early as 1 month of age but it can also begin during your childhood or adult years. Eczema is not a contagious condition and it can affect all skin types.


Like eczema, rosacea is also a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It is not typical for rosacea to appear at an early age but, it can start at any age. Rosacea more commonly begins after age 30 [3]. 

People who get rosacea are both men and women however, men can have a more severe case of rosacea than women. Rosacea is also common among people who blush easily or those who have fair skin. That is not to say that rosacea does not affect people with dark skin. Rosacea is just mostly underdiagnosed in people with dark skin as dark skin typically masks facial redness [4].

Rosacea mostly affects the face often around the nose, cheeks, forehead, and chin. The affected area typically has recurrent episodes of flushing, papules, pustules, erythema, or telangiectasia [5]. Rosacea is also sometimes mistaken for acne and is often referred to as acne rosacea.

Eczema And Rosacea Symptom Comparison

Dryness of SkinYesNo
Flaking/Scaly SkinYesNo
Visible Blood VesselsNoYes
Skin thickeningYesYes
Skin PigmentationYesYes

Symptoms Of Eczema And Rosacea

As you can see from the comparison chart above, eczema and rosacea have similar symptoms. Any skin type can get eczema while rosacea is more noticeable on fair-skinned people.

People with eczema can have dry and irritated skin, swelling, itchiness, papules, rashes, or changes in skin pigmentation (redness). People with eczema also often have thick, leathery skin on the affected area which is a result of prolonged scratching.

Rosacea, on the other hand, has four subtypes and each subtype has specific symptoms. You can have one or several subtypes appear on your skin simultaneously.

Here are the four subtypes of rosacea:

Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea

 Symptoms include visible blood vessels and redness on the face particularly on the face. This can spread to the cheeks if not treated.

Papulopustular Rosacea

Symptoms include swollen, pus-filled bumps and blemishes on the face (nose, cheeks, chin, and forehead).

Ocular Rosacea

Symptoms include burning and itching sensation in the eyes, sensitivity to light, and the appearance of broken blood vessels and stye on the eye.

Phymatous Rosacea 

Symptoms include redness, bumps, and thickened skin on the face.

Causes Of Eczema And Rosacea

As we said earlier, people with eczema typically have weak skin barrier function. This causes the skin to be more susceptible to infection, bacteria, allergens, and other factors. A weak skin barrier also leads to water escaping easily from the body which causes the skin to become dehydrated. If you have a weak skin barrier, it could trigger your immune system which can cause eczema symptoms to appear. Aside from a weak skin barrier, genetic and environmental factors can also trigger eczema.

The cause of rosacea, on the other hand, is unknown. According to Science Direct, factors that trigger rosacea could be food allergies, alcoholism, menopausal flushing, local infection, or deficiency in B vitamins. Other factors that could possibly trigger rosacea could be your skincare or cosmetic products, extreme temperatures, or even exercise.

Treatment Of Eczema And Rosacea

Managing eczema or rosacea can vary and it could depend on how severe your condition is. Make sure to talk to your doctor about possible treatments for your skin condition.

To treat eczema, your healthcare provider can suggest that you use moisturizers that are gentle to the skin, especially if you have sensitive skin. Other treatments your doctor can give you are topical or oral medications.  Antihistamines or corticosteroids can be prescribed to you to reduce the itchiness and swelling of your skin, especially if you have a bad case of eczema flare-ups.

There are also oral and topical medications that can be used to treat rosacea. Consult your healthcare provider as they can prescribe medical therapy to control the redness of your skin. You may also be advised to use laser treatments to remove visible blood vessels in the affected area.

You can also ask your doctor to check if the skincare products that you are using are making your rosacea flare up. If that is the case, your doctor may suggest that you use skincare products that are gentle, mild, and non-abrasive to keep rosacea symptoms at bay.

To prevent your eczema or rosacea from flaring up, make sure to avoid doing things or eating spicy foods that can trigger your condition.

When To Talk With A Doctor

To prevent eczema and rosacea from getting worse, talk to your doctor as soon as you experience their symptoms. Your doctor will give you advice on what treatment is best for your skin condition.

Wrap Up

It can be hard to tell eczema and rosacea apart. Both skin conditions are chronic and they have similar symptoms. Eczema and rosacea can be triggered by external factors and it can be hard to pinpoint the exact thing that can trigger these conditions.

Rosacea is typically seen in adults while eczema is common in infants but can also begin at a later age. If you are experiencing symptoms of eczema, rosacea, or both, it is best that you consult your doctor about your concern.

We hope this article answered your question regarding eczema and rosacea. If you have any more questions, let us know via the contact form on our website!