Moderate Acne

Patients with moderate acne may have whiteheads, blackheads, pustules or nodules on their skin. Usually, this type of acne affects the chest, back and/or face and can be treated with prescription-strength medications.

What is moderate acne?

Although acne is a very common skin condition, it varies in severity. Individuals with moderate acne typically have between 20-100 whiteheads on their skin or 15-50 inflamed bumps. Alternatively, patients with a total of 30-125 lesions on the skin may be diagnosed with moderate acne.

Whilst many patients develop moderate acne on their face, other areas of the body can also be affected. Typically, skin which is exposed to more oil production is more likely to be affected by acne. This means that acne-related lesions, such as whiteheads and pimples, often develop on the chest, back and/or shoulders.

What are the symptoms of moderate acne?

People with moderate acne may have a range of different pimples on their skin. These can include:

  • Whiteheads
  • Pustules
  • Blackheads
  • Nodules

Although some individuals with moderate acne may develop cysts under the skin, this is normally termed cystic acne and is generally considered to be a more severe form of the condition.

When moderate acne occurs, patients may experience a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • Pain at the site of each pimple
  • Itching of the skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Increased risk of infection

The pain and discomfort associated with moderate acne can be fairly severe, particularly if the patient has a large number of pimples at any one time. When pus is formed, this can increase the itching and discomfort associated with the condition and patients may have continuous skin irritation.

If the patient’s condition causes the skin to break or any of the pimples are open, it can also increase their risk of contracting a secondary bacterial or fungal infection. Although these can mimic the symptoms of moderate acne, the patient will normally experience an increase in the severity of their symptoms if a secondary infection occurs.

Whilst moderate acne is a physical condition which affects the skin, it can have a psychological and emotional impact on patients too. Individuals with moderate acne often feel embarrassed about the appearance of their skin, even though acne is extremely common and affects millions of people. As a result, people with acne may try to hide the appearance of their skin and/or avoid socializing with people. In some cases, individuals with moderate acne may even develop anxiety or depression as a result of their condition.

What are the causes of moderate acne?

Acne can be caused by various factors, such as:

  • Excess oil production
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Dry skin

When the sebaceous glands produce too much oil, it can block the skin’s pores and cause a pimple to develop. This is one of the most common causes of moderate acne and can affect people of any age. However, the individual’s hormone level may play a crucial role in the production of oil and the development of acne. As hormones affect oil production, many people may experience acne when their hormones are unbalanced. This is why acne is particularly common during puberty, as the individual’s hormone levels are subject to numerous changes during this time.

Although oil production is a key factor in the development of moderate acne, excessively dry skin can play a role too. When the skin becomes dry and flaky, it can also cause the pores to become blocked, and this can result in pimples forming.

Can moderate acne be treated?

For some patients, topical over-the-counter treatments can be successful in reducing the symptoms of acne but these are more appropriate for treating mild forms of acne. In cases of moderate acne, prescription-strength treatments are likely to be necessary. Generally, two forms of treatment are used to treat moderate acne:

  • Topical treatments
  • Oral antibiotics

Generally, topical treatments are used to unclog the pores, whilst oral antibiotics are effective in killing the bacteria which is present in the pimples. However, many topical treatments also have antibiotic properties and may also be used to kill bacteria. Many topical treatments contain Benzoyl Peroxide or Salicylic Acid, for example, and these chemicals are able to kill bacteria and prevent antibiotic-resistant bacteria from residing on the skin and causing further outbreaks.

Tetracycline antibiotics are often prescribed to patients with moderate acne, as they have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as an antibiotic effect. This helps to reduce the patient’s symptoms and minimize the development of inflammatory pimples.

For some patients, hormonal treatments may also be effective in reducing the symptoms of moderate acne. If the individual’s hormones levels are unbalanced, this can be an effective way of targeting the cause of their skin condition. For example, a birth control pill may be prescribed to patients in order to balance their hormones and improve the appearance of their skin.

Usually, treatment for moderate acne is ongoing and patients may need to use prescription-strength products for some time. In addition to using topical treatments and taking oral antibiotics, patients with moderate acne may choose to visit a dermatologist in order to have their existing pimples treated. With appropriate tools, a dermatologist may be able to remove pus and debris from existing pimples and increase the speed of the skin’s recovery process.

Can moderate acne be prevented?

A good skincare regime can help to prevent acne but this isn’t always enough to stop moderate acne from developing. In many instances, preventing acne depends on the cause of the patient’s symptoms. If dry skin is causing pimples to form, for example, the patient may be able to prevent acne by exfoliating their skin on a regular basis.

However, moderate acne usually occurs because of intrinsic factors, such as excess oil production or unbalanced hormones. Due to this, it may be difficult for individuals to prevent the condition from developing without medical treatment. If patients adhere to the treatment plan prescribed to them, however, it is likely that their existing condition will be reduced and they may be able to prevent moderate acne from returning in the future.