Common misdiagnosis – 5 conditions that mimic Rosacea

Around the world, an estimated 415 million people suffer from Rosacea. The condition, marked by a variety of mild to severe symptoms, can be debilitating, especially for those who have the disorder without a proper diagnosis. Recent research suggests that millions of adults may struggle unnecessarily with the skin disorder because an accurate diagnosis, and subsequent treatment plan, are not provided in a timely fashion.

According to a renown medical negligence firm, misdiagnosis of rosacea is a common problem. Individuals who show symptoms of the condition are often quick to visit their GP for help, but because the disorder’s warning signs different from patient to patient, getting the right answer quickly is not always a reality. Instead, rosacea patients may be initially diagnosed with another skin condition and prescribed a treatment plan that does little to help their state of well-being. Surveys show that 90% of rosacea patients experience a reduced level of confidence and self-esteem because of the condition, and more than half miss work due to symptom flare-ups. These devastating issues of misdiagnosis can lead to unnecessary avoidance of social interactions and ultimately, a greatly reduced quality of life.

Rosacea Imposters
For these reasons, getting the right diagnosis for rosacea early on is important. Both medical professionals and those who have symptoms of rosacea can educate themselves on common skin conditions that mimic the disorder. The following five conditions look similar to rosacea, but with different underlying causes and courses of treatment, must be differentiated to help patients improve their short- and long-term outcomes.


More common than rosacea is acne, which is a prevalent skin condition identified by bumps and pimples spread across the face. Like rosacea, adult acne can appear in several different forms, including whiteheads and blackheads, small or large red bumps, painful cysts, or other skin irritations. In some cases, rosacea is mistaken for acne because of the blemishes the latter causes on the face. However, recent research suggests the two are very different conditions. Acne is caused by oil and dirt build-up beneath the skin’s surface, while rosacea can be triggered by temperature changes, stress, hormonal imbalances, or diet. The treatments for rosacea and acne differ, making it necessary to receive the correct diagnosis early.


Dermatitis is another common condition that mimics the symptoms of rosacea. When someone has dermatitis, itchy, red, or swollen skin may appear on the face, which may closely resemble rosacea warning signs. Dermatitis may also involve crusting or flaking skin, or oozing of blemishes when left untreated. Unlike rosacea, however, dermatitis includes a broad spectrum of skin conditions rather than a single culprit of symptoms. Depending on the underlying issue, dermatitis and rosacea are treated differently.


A more severe condition mimicking rosacea is lupus – an inflammatory disease that can impact the entire body. Individuals with lupus may present initially with what is known as a butterfly rash across the cheeks and nose, often resembling the red flushness of rosacea. However, lupus also influences other parts of the body, including the joints, kidneys, heart, lungs, and the brain. Patients with lupus may have a facial rash in addition to a fever, joint pain, or a persistent headache. These ancillary symptoms of lupus are not a result of rosacea, but the conditions can often be misdiagnosed initially.


When an individual has psoriasis, another relatively common skin condition, they are likely to experience red patches on the skin, dryness, itching, and burning that does not subside on its own. While these symptoms may mimic rosacea issues, psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells. Additionally, there are several different types of psoriasis that are all treated in a different manner than rosacea.


As a form of dermatitis, eczema is also a skin condition that is mistaken for rosacea, or vice versa. With eczema, individuals are believed to experience an allergic reaction to an external source, which differs greatly from the underlying reasons rosacea appears. However, eczema may present similarly, with red patches, and itchy or dry skin that is persistent. The skin condition can appear anywhere on the body, unlike rosacea that is mostly limited to the face.

While there are several conditions that look a lot like rosacea when symptoms first arise, there are diagnostic tests that can help both patients and doctors better understand which condition is the culprit of symptoms. Getting the right diagnosis for rosacea, or another skin condition, is crucial. Not only does a timely diagnosis allow for faster, more effective treatment, but those living with rosacea can work toward a better quality of life through improved self-esteem and boosted confidence.