Is It Rosacea, Or Is It Dermatitis?

An estimated 45 million people in the world suffer from rosacea. Some people experience easy flushing, blushing, or a slight discoloration of their cheeks, nose, or forehead. Others who have more severe cases may experience red, swollen facial features, that include small dilated blood vessels. Unfortunately, not everyone who thinks they have rosacea actually do. What appears to be rosacea may be one of several other skin conditions that can cause you to have similar symptoms. If you are experiencing discoloration in your facial features, here are a couple of things you may want to consider before you just assume that it is rosacea.

Contact Dermatitis

If your skin is overly sensitive, you suffer from known allergies, or you have experienced allergic reactions to various things you have come into contact with, you may be suffering from a case of contact dermatitis instead of rosacea. Both can present with red, itchy, skin outbreaks, and a red, crusty rash. 

Contact dermatitis comes in two basic forms. These include:

Irritant contact dermatitis is most often seen at the site of the irritant exposure. An example of this is the rash that is often seen in people who are allergic to, and have come in contact with poison oak or poison ivy.

Allergic contact dermatitis is seen in people who have developed an allergic reaction to a particular chemical or substance. This is more difficult to diagnose and may require an allergy skin test to determine what you are allergic to.

The best way to avoid contact dermatitis is to avoid the allergen that is creating the allergy. Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms, and may be accomplished through the application of a topical steroid creme, while more severe cases may require a round of oral steroids. 

Seborrheic Dermatitis

If your red, itchy areas seem to be centered more around the edges of your head and scalp, as well as on your face, and on your upper back and chest, you may be suffering from Seborrheic dermatitis instead of rosacea. In addition to these areas, it can also show up on other areas of your body. This condition not only causes your skin to be red and patchy, but it can also present with a stubborn influx of flaky skin is often called dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can be found in people of all ages, and is often called cradle cap in infants and babies. Additional symptoms of the disease may include:

  • Flaky skin in your hair, eyebrows, or beard
  • Red inflamed skin
  • Itching or stinging of the areas, especially when washing the area with shampoo
  • Red, crusty rash over your eyelids
  • Patches of yellow scaly skin

There is no known causes, but it is suspected that it may be related to:

  • Malassezia - or a yeast infection of your skin
  • Inflammation caused by psoriasis
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Seasonal changes with symptoms being worse in the winter and early spring

Seborrheic dermatitis is most often first treated with over-the-counter shampoos. If these are not effective in treating the symptoms, your physician may prescribe prescription strength shampoos, or prescribe hydrocortisone, fluocinolone, or corticosteroids. If your symptoms persist, you may be asked to take an anti-fungal medication, or even treated with light therapy. 

Only a skin doctor will be able to tell you for sure what skin condition you are suffering from. If the discoloration, itchiness, or other symptoms continue to linger for more than a couple of weeks, you may want seek medical care. No matter if it is a type of dermatitis or rosacea, they will be able to offer you the best course of treatment to contain your symptoms. check out websites like for more information.