July 17, 2022 2 min read

Acne Imposters:
  • Folliculitis
  • Staph Infection
  • Keratosis Pilaris
  • Perioral Dermatitis
  • Sebaceous Hyperplasia
  • Steatocystoma Multiplex

Have you mistaken redness, bumps, and irritation for acne? Don’t worry, it happens! The skin conditions mentioned can look eerily similar to acne. It can be common to have a combination of both acne and folliculitis. Folliculitis involves the inflammation of hair follicles from yeast or fungal infections. Most frequent on the forehead, some people might experience flare-ups during humid weather or with the use of hot tubs/spas, heavy moisturizers, steroids, antibiotics, and oily skin. 

Staph infections or staphylococcus might look like a case of acne, but more severe. Since this skin infection is caused by bacteria, it can look swollen and red, sometimes filled with pus. A pimple will be more symmetrical in shape and size. Whereas with keratosis pilaris, an inherited hair follicle disorder, the raised, red bumps tend to resemble goosebumps and could be visible on arms, back or thighs. Affecting around forty-percent of the world population, it’s most common in teenagers, though difficult to get rid of. To manage or get rid of it, exfoliating with lactic acid can help. 

If you’re thinking of using exfoliants (AHAs) and benzoyl peroxide, be careful because perioral dermatitis can be easily exacerbated by either. Very prevalent in younger women, and some men, it’s been frequently discussed that steroid facial creams, often prescribed by dermatologists, can cause it to erupt as well. As it’s easily mistaken for acne because of its concentration around the chin, nose and mouth, it resembles groupings of smaller, inflamed papules and pustules. Be aware of the products you are using, use gentle cleansers, and citrus foods. 

Another common acne imposter is sebaceous hyperplasia, a donut shaped, common benign skin condition. Associated with aging, when our oil glands enlarge by overproduction of androgens, their ability to produce oil slows and causes them to expand, looking more like a pimple. Similarly, steatocystoma multiplex reflects the development of acne because it forms under the skin, creating a dermal cyst that can be extracted. 

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