Acne-Like Skin Conditions
Acne isn't the only condition that causes whiteheads, reddened skin or raised pustules. If you're treating your skin for acne without results, you may be treating the wrong condition. Some acne-like skin conditions require antibacterial or antifungal medication---visit a dermatologist for a definitive diagnosis.
Rosacea, a common acne-like disorder, results in pimples and general skin redness. According to MayoClinic.com, rosacea usually gets worse if left untreated, although the cyclical nature of breakouts may trick you into thinking it's on the wane. The New Zealand Dermatological Society lists several other conditions that produce pimple-like pustules that can be mistake for acne, including benign cysts, which look like whiteheads but are actually fluid-filled sacs that form beneath the skin. The condition folliculitis produces small red spots with or without whiteheads.
Rosacea's causes remain a mystery, although scientists believe heredity may play a role. Certain stressors such as spicy food, stress or hot baths can aggravate rosacea. Cysts are also a bit of a mystery. The New Zealand Dermatological Society reports that although cysts form when a hair follicle's lining becomes blocked, no one knows why they affect some people and not others. Folliculitis can have a number of causes, ranging from a bacterial or fungal infection to irritation of the hair follicles after shaving or waxing.
Your doctor or dermatologist can determine the right treatment for your condition. In the case of rosacea, you can often control outbreaks with topical anti-inflammatories such as benzoyl peroxide supplemented with oral antibiotics. Cysts aren't harmful unless they become red and infected, and they can almost always be surgically removed by a doctor. Folliculitis is perhaps the most difficult to treat because of the range of causes. Treatments include antibiotics for bacterial infections, antifungal medication for yeast infections or simply allowing hair to grow back without trying to shave or wax it.
If you came into contact with something to which you're allergic, your skin may get red, itchy or break out in bumps or blisters that look like acne. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, this is called contact dermatitis, and is often triggered by substances such as rubber, nickel, fragrances, dyes or preservatives. Treatment includes topical steroids and compresses over any blisters or bumps. Your doctor can determine what set off the reaction, allowing you to avoid that substance in the future.
Although it doesn't produce the bumps that get mistaken for pimples, eczema does cause red, itchy, rashy skin. It's a form of skin allergy that, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, happens most often in people with asthma or hay fever. It might be mistaken for acne because it creates patches of scaly skin that look like the dry, flaky skin you get when you treat acne with harsh drying agents like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
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