6 Skin Problems That Look Like Acne But Are Not

If there is a skin condition that is so common that most of us have had it, it is acne.

Because of this, it is easy to conclude that any bump that appears on your skin is acne. But that is not always true. 

There are skin conditions that look a lot like acne. If you are not careful, you might mistake them for acne. You end up using anti-acne treatment or worse, ignore them. 

To avoid making this mistake, today, we will be exploring the different skin problems that look like acne. 

Skin problems that look like acne: 

1. Folliculitis 

Folliculitis may look a lot like whiteheads. 

Unlike acne, folliculitis occurs when your hair follicles are inflamed due to a bacteria or yeast infection. This leads to the appearance of tiny red bumps on your skin which look very much like acne. 

These bumps can, sometimes, become filled with pus. They might also become painful or itchy. In extreme cases, they can easily become sores. 

You can experience these bumps anywhere on your body, but especially in areas where there is friction. For example, your armpits, thighs, neck, butt, etc. 

For mild cases of folliculitis, use skincare products that contain ingredients like salicylic acid. For severe cases, you might need oral antibiotics.  

You have to improve on your basic self-care and if symptoms persist, then you need to see a doctor. 

2. Milia

It can be very easy to mistake milia for acne, especially whiteheads.

They appear in the form of pale, raised dots around the eyes, but these dot-like bumps can appear on other parts of the skin. 

Though they look like acne, they are not. They are tiny cysts that form in your skin pores. They are usually underneath the skin surface and have to be extracted if you want to get rid of them. 

To remove milia, dermatologists puncture the skin and use a comedone extractor to extract them from your skin. 

The good news is that they are harmless and people remove them mainly for cosmetic purposes. 

3. Chickenpox

You might not have expected this to make the list but it does. 

If you have acne-prone skin, it might be easy to mistake chickenpox for acne. It is a very common viral infection, usually caused by the varicella-zoster virus. 

You will begin to experience symptoms after 10-20 days of exposure to the virus. It causes bumps that look a lot like acne to appear. Itchy rashes begin to appear with small blisters filled with fluid. 

It gets easier to pinpoint that it’s chickenpox as the symptoms develop because you might also begin to experience fever and pains.

When you begin to experience this, you have to go see your doctor to be sure it is chickenpox. 

4. Staph Infection

Staph Infection is one of the skin problems that look like acne but it isn’t.

It is a bacterial infection that is usually caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. Normally, the bacteria is harmless and is found on the skin. It, however, can trigger an infection when it comes in contact with open wounds, cuts, and scratches. 

They appear in the form of pimple-like boils or bumps that are red. They can also get worse, becoming blisters filled with the pus. 

Staph infections are usually minor, but in severe cases, they can lead to life-threatening conditions like septicemia.

If you notice any of these symptoms and you suspect it is a staph infection, go see a doctor immediately. 

5. Skin cancer

Skin cancer can sometimes look like acne, even though not all types do. 

In cases where it looks like acne, it usually starts out as tiny red or pink bumps. The surrounding areas of this bump might appear brown, blue, or black.

One type of skin cancer that can be easily mistaken as acne is the basal cell carcinoma and it is very common. 

The good thing about this form of skin cancer is that it is a low-risk cancer. Skin Cancer Foundation says that It is not usually life-threatening except in extremely rare situations. Also, it doesn’t spread to other parts of your body and can be easily removed with surgery.  

So, if that bump is lasting several months without clearing off, even after you have tried treating it, then you have to see your doctor to be sure it is not cancer. 

6. Ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs look very much like acne. 

They are hairs that have grown into the skin and because of this, a bump is created. They can appear as white or red bumps or cysts. 

Ingrown hairs often appear on the underarm and bikini area on a woman’s body. For men, Ingrown hairs appear on the cheeks, upper neck, or the chin.

They usually are not severe and they disappear on their own. If they get infected, then you have to see your dermatologist. 

In severe cases, they are extracted. But in mild cases, topical products with ingredients like salicylic acid will help. 

In conclusion, 

There are several skin problems that look like acne but they are not.

You should be able to tell the difference so that you know the right step to take next. If you are not sure of what is on your skin, then you need to see your dermatologist. 

If you have any questions, leave a comment and let’s talk.

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