There is a wide range of acne severity; acne can present as one pimple from time to time, or it can be constant and overwhelming. For this reason, we often grade acne, in order to provide the most effective treatment possible for each type of acne.
Here’s how to know if your acne is mild, moderate or severe:
Mild acne: Mild acne usually consists of just a few pimples or comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) that present sporadically, or remain in a localized area. Unfortunately, even mild acne can produce permanent scarring if left untreated, so even mild acne should be treated promptly.
Moderate acne: Moderate acne is more consistant, usually it is always present in some form or another. It often has a combination of inflammatory acne (pimples) and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) and involves a greater percentage of the skin’s surface area. Rather than affecting only one area, moderate acne may affect the entire face or even the back and chest.
Severe acne: Severe acne is constantly present and often contains cyst and pustules. There is usually a combination of both inflammatory acne (pimples, cysts, pustules) and comedones (whiteheads and blackheads) and a large percentage of the face is involved. Severe acne is also commonly present on the back. Severe acne is the most likely type of acne to lead to scarring, so it is important that severe acne be evaluated and treated by a dermatologist. Treatments for severe acne often include prescription medications and in-office laser and light-based treatments. Isotretinoin is often considered for the treatment of severe cases of acne that do not respond to other acne treatments.