From hormones and genetics to lifestyles and products, there are so many factors that affect the type of acne you have and each kind requires its own treatment plan to keep it away for good.
Here’s the thing – not all acne is created equal. Some people never get it (sigh, lucky them), some get it during certain times of the month and for others it’s full-time job to manage those angry breakouts.
According to board-certified dermatologist Dr Carly J. Roman: “Acne can range from superficial lesions like clogged pores or blackheads to painful, deep nodulocystic acne.”
If you’ve noticed a recent and persistent scattering of spots on your forehead, chin, cheek, nose – anywhere really – that’s not shifting, you might be suffering from mild acne. While mild acne is not as obvious as some cystic acne cases, it’s worth swotting up on how to identify and tackle it with the right acne-fighting formulas.
What is mild acne and how is it caused?
There are heaps of potential causes of acne but mild acne usually begins for most people at puberty, as their hormonal levels start revving up with increases of sebum production in the skin.
“Acne is a complex condition that is caused by a combination of genetic, bacterial and environmental factors and those suffering from acne will often have higher than average grease levels on the skin, which provides the perfect environment for the bacteria to flourish,” says Dr Glass from The Dermatology Clinic London.
Acne breakouts range from mild or moderate to severe. Acne tends to fall into the “mild” category if you have fewer than 20 whiteheads or blackheads, fewer than 15 inflamed bumps and small pustules.
If you have mild acne, you’re likely getting an occasional minor breakout of blackheads, or whiteheads but they’re not covering a large area of our face, chest, shoulder, upper arms or back and you’re less likely to get a lot of inflammation or scarrings.
Dr Sandra Lee, otherwise known as the illustrious Dr. Pimple Popper warns that mild acne, if left untreated, could develop into something more severe. “First, you have comedones, which are blackheads and whiteheads,” Lee explains. “Those are like the building blocks of acne; those are the ones that can turn into the red pimples or even cystic nodules.”
How is mild acne treated?
The good news is mild acne can be easy to treat with over-the-counter products. “Depending on the severity of the condition. It may be treated with creams alone, or creams combined with antibiotic tablets,” says Dr Glass.
If you want to start fighting your mild acne at home, Dr Lee recommends two ingredients. “Glycolic and salicylic acids will exfoliate and help to clean the debris out of your pores; they can help with brown spots and hyperpigmentation.”
Joshua Zeichner, a fellow dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, also recommends salicylic acid. “This beta hydroxy acid helps remove excess oil and exfoliate dead cells from the skin’s surface to keep pores clear,” he explains.
If you’re not seeing any improvement after 12 weeks, your doctor may prescribe a cream or lotion with higher concentrations of benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulfur or zinc. These are often creams or roll-ons that reduce the production of oil, killing the p.acnes-causing bacteria and accelerating skin turnover breaking down whiteheads and blackheads and thus, reducing acne breakouts.
It’s always worth remembering that most medications won’t cure acne overnight and that you need to be patient with the results. It’s always worth speaking to your GP or dermatologist if you’re worried that a treatment isn’t working.