Difference Between Acne and Eczema (With Table)

The skin is the most exposed organ of our body and thus, is prone to innumerable infections and problems. But very often, we neglect such diseases and brush them aside until they start bothering us. Let’s face it, skin issues such as redness, inflammation, itchiness can be very embarrassing and are indicators that our skin is infected and needs immediate medical care. Acne and Eczema are two such skin conditions that may appear very similar to a layman. Because both cause redness and inflammation of the skin, but it’s best if we consult a skin specialist or a dermatologist about it.

Acne vs Eczema

Acnes and eczemas might look very similar because both cause redness and inflammation of the skin. But they have a huge difference in the skin conditions, which are difficult to recognize. Acne appears due to many reasons, causes of which hormonal imbalance and stress are the most common. Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the symptom of an internal disease, which is a condition like asthma or caused by some allergens. One might experience acne and eczemas at the same time.

Acne appears on our skin when the pores are clogged. It is due to excess secretion of sebum(oil), pollutants, dirt, dead skin cells, and also sometimes due to acne-causing bacteria. As a result of these clogged pores, blackheads, pimples, and whiteheads appear on the skin, and these breakouts mostly appear on our face, neck, back, shoulder. People with oily skin are the ones most likely to develop acne. Acne also causes severe psychological distress such as low self-esteem and confidence, embarrassment, and anxiety.

Eczema is an autoimmune disease(a disease caused when one’s immune system attacks its body cells). Eczema-affected people have dehydrated skin. Inflamed, itchy, dry and crusty, and red skin are some of the symptoms of Eczema.

Comparison Table Between Acne and Eczema

Parameters of ComparisonAcneEczema
CausesExcessive oil, hormonal shifts, and stress resulting in clogged poresThe immune system and under secretion of oil by the oil-secreting glands can be a cause
SymptomsOily skin, pus-filled pimples, nodulesDry and flaky skin, itching
TypesBlackheads, whiteheads, nodules, zit, papules, pustules, cystsAtopic dermatitis, Neurodermatitis, Seborrheic dermatitis, stasis dermatitis
HormonesHormones and their imbalance largely cause acneHormones do not cause Eczema
TreatmentSystemic therapy and topical treatment like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, niacinamide.Steroids and antihistamine

What is Acne?

Imagine waking up one morning, all fresh and ready to start the day, only to find out that you have a bump on your face. It’s all red and stingy, and all of a sudden, your mood becomes irritable and distressed. Yes, that’s the extent to which acne can affect a person! Acne can appear on our face, neck, back, and shoulder as blackheads, whiteheads, zits, pus-filled pimples, and nodules. 

Multiple factors can cause these uninvited guests. Some are due to clogged pores due to excessive oil secretion by sebaceous glands, stress, hormonal imbalance, pollution and humidity, medications, and sometimes even hygienic issues. When our oil glands secrete excessive oil or sebum, it attracts acne-producing bacteria because they feed on these oils, and then acne appears on our skin.

When we are under lots of stress and tension, It secrets the hormone cortisol(stress hormone), which causes inflammation, and our skin flares up, and acne appears. One’s diet and lifestyle are also responsible for the appearance of acne. Who follow a healthy lifestyle and drink lots of water. Who gets adequate sleep, and exercise, and consume healthy food are less likely to develop acne. But the people who have a sedentary lifestyle drink lots of caffeine and eat a lot of junk food. 

Acne is incurable but can be reduced and prevented. It’s best to consult a dermatologist if you have acne rather than applying layers of concealing makeup products. Dermatologists offer Topical and Systemic therapy to reduce acne. In topical therapy, the direct application of the medication is necessary for the skin. Gels and lotions contain chemicals like Benzoyl Peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, niacinamide. You need to take the medication by mouth in Systematic therapy. 

Antibiotics like tetracycline, minocycline, doxycycline, or erythromycin reduce inflammation. Women with hormonal issues need to take oral contraceptives. You can take vitamins in the form of Isotretinoin in cases of very severe acne.

What is Eczema?

Our immune cells are constantly trying to fight off an underlying health issue or a disease, and during this, sometimes our immune system reacts in such a way that it starts attacking our healthy cells. It causes autoimmune diseases, and Eczema is one such autoimmune disease. A sensitive immune system, genes, and underlying health issues like asthma might be some of the causes of Eczema. 

These causes do not let the sebaceous glands produce oil and the skin to hold moisture. The skin becomes very dry, flaky, and irritated, which manifests in the skin, like redness, swelling, itchy patches, and pus. Triggers of allergens can also cause eczemas. Not all cases of Eczema look the same, but they are different from each other with several symptoms and causes. 

It can appear on hands, legs, arms, face, and the middle portion of the body. Eczema is scientifically known as atopic dermatitis, where atopic refers to a collection of conditions that involve the immune system and dermatitis refers to inflammation. There is no permanent cure for this skin disease. The skin becomes excessively dry and flaky due to Eczema. Doctors recommend applying thick layers of lotions and moisturizers to hydrate the skin.

Doctors recommend wearing lightweight fabric.  You can use cotton and use a very mild or medicated soap when one has Eczema. We need to take extra care during winter so that the excessive dryness of the weather doesn’t further dry the skin up.

Main Differences Between Acne and Eczema

  1. Acne is generally caused by stress, hormonal imbalances, excessive oil secretion, PCOS(in women), lack of sleep, and poor and unhealthy lifestyle, whereas eczemas are autoimmune diseases and specific allergens.
  2. It is genetic as well.Blackheads, Whiteheads, pustules, nodules, and zit are different types of acne, whereas stasis dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, contact dermatitis, neurodermatitis, and Dyshidrotic eczemas are the different types of Eczema.
  3. The skin is generally greasy and oily if a person has acne, whereas, in eczemas, the skin is dry, flaky, and patchy.
  4. Hormones and their imbalances play a huge role in the formation of acne, whereas Eczema is not affected due to hormonal changes.
  5. Treatments for Acne include Topical therapy and systemic therapy, whereas treatments for Eczema include steroids, antihistamines, and even phototherapy.

Conclusion

Be it Acne, Eczema, or other such skin conditions, numerous people around us have never failed to give unsolicited advice on how to get rid of them and some home remedies, which might prove effective in some cases, but mostly they are not. So it’s better to consult a skin specialist or a dermatologist if these issues are bothering you. 

It is not advisable to self-medicate and apply layers and layers of concealers and foundation on your skin. Rather than addressing the underlying health issues that are showing up on your skin as either acne or eczemas. Because not everything you read on the internet can prove to be helpful all the time. The psychological impacts of Acne and Eczema are severe than the physiological impacts. 

People suffering from these skin conditions are subjected to a series of taunts. For their facial appearance, other bully and laugh at them. Due to which they develop low self-confidence and self-esteem, low self-image, insecurities, anxiety, and trauma. Acne and eczema happen to 4 out of 5 people, and there is nothing to feel ashamed about. Learn to appreciate yourself a little more and accept the way you are, despite your acne or eczema!

Reference

  1. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/3fk3f989
  2. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/0j5150df
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