Acne and eczema are skin conditions that can be uncomfortable, disfiguring and interfere with the quality of your life. How do you know which is which and what you can do about them? See a dermatologist for a physical exam.
It’s that simple. There are no medical tests or scans, no painful procedures to go through. An experienced medical professional can take a thorough personal history and examine the irritated patches on your skin to generally make an accurate diagnosis.
These two skin conditions are very common and can be stressful; in fact, a contributing cause to both can be stress. They can develop at any age, and can be chronic or intermittent conditions subject to flare-ups. Some find them painful or embarrassing, but neither is contagious.1,2
There are also differences between acne and atopic dermatitis (AD), which is often referred to as eczema, especially in the way they are treated.
Provides an exterior covering to the body’s other organs, muscles, and internal structures
Helps maintain body temperature
Protects internal layers from germs and water.
There are 3 basic layers:
Epidermis is the outer barrier layer. It has sub-layers that each has a specific role in skin growth, replenishment and protection.
Dermis is the middle working layer. It makes sweat to cool the body, oil to waterproof the skin and provides protective covering for blood vessels that feed the skin.
Subcutaneous is the deepest, fatty layer. It attaches the multiple skin layers to your muscles and bones. It also plays a role in regulating body temperature.
Acne results from clogging of the oil glands under the skin. When blockage builds up in the pores on the surface of the skin it can form a bump or pimple. Sometimes these are filled with pus and can be painful and unattractive. Acne tends to appear on the face, neck, back and shoulders.
Flares and triggers
Acne is sometimes thought of as a teen skin condition. But it affects babies and adults as well. It can run in families, be triggered by a medication side effect, or result from stress or hormonal change, and other contributing factors.
A dermatologist can make the diagnosis and treat you with medications to help reduce or resolve the condition. Treatment options include topical ointments and creams, antibiotics and other oral medications, as well as chemical peels and light therapy. Light treatment for acne can take several forms including but not limited to lasers, visible light (red and blue), and infrared.3
A good home skin care regimen can benefit those who have acne or eczema. Keeping skin clean with gentle washing is important. Remember to leave the affected areas alone, and try not to touch, pick, or scratch. Stay covered when out in the sun. Eliminating or managing stress through relaxation techniques such as mediation or yoga can also be helpful.1
Adult Acne. American Academy of Dermatology website.
https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/adult-acne. Accessed online September 3, 2018.
Eczema vs. Acne: Which Is It? WebMD website. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/eczema/eczema-acne#3. Accessed online September 2, 2018.
Lasers and lights: How well do they treat acne? https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/lasers-and-lights-how-well-do-they-treat-acne. Accessed online September 3, 2018.