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Atopic Dermatitis vs Acne

Atopic Dermatitis vs. Acne: Which is it?

Red, inflamed skin is easy to show. It may be acne, but it could also be atopic dermatitis/eczema. Here’s how to define which condition you have so you can start a therapy.

How they show on the skin?

Both are common skin problems that can appear at any age. Each can flare, go away for a while, the return. And both these skin issues can be stressful and embarrassing. Acne and eczema are different.

Atopic Dermatitis is an inflammatory condition, it’s caused by a problem with your immune system, and your skin have a deficit of filaggrin. You’re more likely to get atopia if in your family any members have allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis, hay fever.

Eczema can look different from person to person. Children are more likely to have atopic dermatitis on their faces, elbows, neck and knees with red itchy patches. Rough, leathery skin, brown patches, swelling, oozing, crusting are other signs.

Acne affects the oil glands mainly of the face. When the small pores get clogged a pimple grows. Acne breakouts on your face, neck, back, shoulders and buttocks. You are more prone to get acne if your hormone change (puberty, pregnancy, menopause), you take steroids, any of your family members had acne, you’re stressed.


The doctor is able to tell which dermatitis your have by looking at your skin and medical history. Some lab test could be necessary.


For acne the quicker you start a therapy the less likely you are to have scars and new pimples. Several different topical or systemic therapies are available. You could need antibiotics, retinoids, ultraviolet therapy, chemical peels, laser, topical sulfur, biotine, zinc.

For eczema the therapy is different, you will need emollients, synthetic detergents, antihistamines, steroids, antiseptics, biotine, zinc.

Dr Giovanni Biondo

Via Meravigli 16, Milan, Italy

+39 02 366 85 103

+39 329 7347 765

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