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Moderate acne

If you have papules (raised reddish bumps) or pustules (raised reddish bumps but with white centers) you may have moderate acne, especially if the lesions are widespread across the face or body.

Breakouts last longer than in mild acne and often do not go away.

If over the counter products are not working and you think you have moderate acne, you should visit your doctor who can decide if you need a different treatment or if you should be referred to a dermatologist.

When moderate acne is not treated early enough, it can leave a permanent scar on the skin, so it’s good to get in early with the right advice.

Advice for treating moderate acne

If moderate acne is concerning you, you need to take these necessary and important steps:

Step 1

Make an appointment with your local GP.

Step 2

You may be prescribed a topical or oral (explained below) antibiotic and/or topical retinoid by your GP.

Step 3

If so, you need to allow up to 12 weeks for treatment to work.

Step 4

If you’re still concerned about your acne after 12 weeks, ask your GP for a referral to a dermatologist.

Antibiotics that treat acne come in two different forms – they are either topical (applied directly to skin) or oral (swallowed in tablet form). Both types reduce the presence of bacteria in the skin and also have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Oral antibiotics are generally used when acne has become moderate to severe. They may be used on their own or along with a topical treatment.

If you are prescribed a topical retinoid cream, you can expect the following:

Initial reaction

During the early days of therapy, blackheads will begin to dislodge. You may experience some redness, discomfort or peeling.

After three weeks

You may see new acne appearing. This is normal but it will soon disappear.

After six weeks

There should be good progress and a noticeable difference in the amount of acne.

After 12 weeks

Your acne should be under control. Further improvement is still possible.

General tips

  • Wash face no more than two or three times a day. Pat your face dry without rubbing.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes after washing your face before applying the topical cream.
  • Avoid applying cream to the corners of the mouth, nose, and eyes or on other sensitive areas.
  • Apply at least half an hour before going to bed.
  • If stinging and redness is extreme, notify your GP.
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