Dealing with acne can be a frustrating, stressful experience, especially when it has a noticeable impact on your appearance.
If you have acne that’s severe, painful, persistent or just plain annoying, you may have thought about meeting with a dermatologist.
As specialists in all things related to your skin, talking to a dermatologist can help you to find out what’s causing your acne, the specific factors that might be aggravating it and the steps that you can take to get rid of it for good.
In some cases, a dermatologist may prescribe medication to treat your acne and keep your skin blemish-free in the future.
Visiting a dermatologist can be a good idea, but it’s not the only way to treat acne. Below, we’ve talked about what you can expect if you meet with a dermatologist, as well as other options that are available for getting your acne breakouts under control.
Dermatologists are doctors that specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions that affect your skin, hair and nails.
A typical dermatologist spends 12 years or more in training and is equipped to treat more than 3,000 different skin conditions. Since acne is such a common skin issue, most dermatologists have successfully diagnosed and treated hundreds or thousands of acne cases before.
If you have acne, talking to a dermatologist can give you clear information and advice on what you can do to stop breakouts and get your skin under control.
Just like other healthcare professionals, dermatologists do several things to diagnose and treat acne.
The first step in treating acne is reaching an accurate diagnosis. When you visit a dermatologist, they’ll physically inspect your skin to determine the type or types of acne you have, the areas of your body that are affected and any other relevant, related issues.
Acne can vary hugely in severity. To learn more about your acne, a dermatologist may ask you certain questions about your symptoms.
You may be asked when you started to notice acne, if you use any medications that may affect your skin, if you have any habits that may cause acne breakouts or if you have previously used or currently use any products or medications to treat your acne breakouts.
Often, skin conditions that look like acne aren’t actually acne itself. For example, some common skin rashes, such as perioral dermatitis, can look similar to an acne breakout that forms around your mouth.
As specialists in skin conditions, dermatologists can identify skin conditions that appear similar to acne and recommend an appropriate treatment.
If you have acne, a dermatologist will create a treatment plan that you can follow to clear your skin and prevent your acne breakouts from coming back.
Your dermatologist will consider a variety of factors when creating a treatment plan, including:
To treat and prevent acne, your dermatologist may prescribe one or several over-the-counter or prescription medications. Common medications for treating acne include:
If your acne is severe, persistent or just doesn’t respond to other treatments, your dermatologist may prescribe one of the following medications:
In order to completely get rid of your acne, you may need to use these medications for a period of several months, even if your acne clears up in the short term.
If your dermatologist suspects that your acne is related to an underlying medical condition, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), they may refer you to a specialist healthcare provider for further assistance.
In addition to prescribing medication for acne, many dermatologists can perform procedures to rejuvenate your skin and reduce the appearance of acne.
Some of these procedures are used to physically remove acne, whereas others stimulate skin rejuvenation by removing dead cells using exfoliating chemicals or equipment. Some of these treatments are also used to remove acne scarring and other skin imperfections.
Common cosmetic procedures for acne include:
If you have acne, you can talk to a dermatologist at any time. There’s no need to wait until your acne is severe to visit a dermatologist, nor is there any need to try over-the-counter treatments before you seek professional help.
Dermatologists specialize in treating acne of all types and severity levels, meaning it’s alright to talk to a dermatologist even if you only get the occasional pimple. In fact, it’s best to take action and start an acne treatment plan as soon as you notice acne developing.
It’s particularly important to talk to a dermatologist if you have:
Visiting a dermatologist is a good option if you have acne. A board-certified dermatologist will be able to diagnose acne and prescribe the most effective treatment based on your symptoms and personal history of dealing with acne breakouts.
However, visiting a dermatologist isn’t the only way to treat acne, especially if you only get mild acne breakouts. We’ve listed other options for treating acne below.
While severe acne is best treated by a dermatologist, you can often treat mild acne by yourself using over-the-counter products.
Our guide to blackheads and whiteheads explains how you can treat comedonal acne — a form of acne that isn’t inflamed or infected.
Often, simple changes to your routine such as cleansing your face and avoiding cosmetics that contain comedogenic ingredients can get rid of clogged pores and prevent acne breakouts.
Products like our Deep Sea Cleanser, which is designed to reduce blocked pores without drying out your skin, can make this process easier.
Our guide to getting rid of acne naturally lists tips and techniques that you can use to keep your skin healthy, clear and blemish-free at home.
If you’d like to talk to a healthcare provider about acne, you don’t always need to visit your local dermatologist.
We offer several FDA-approved acne treatments online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider. This way, you can access expert advice and proven medication without any need to leave your home.
Dermatologists specialize in conditions related to your skin, making them experts in diagnosing and treating even the most troublesome, persistent types of acne.
If you only have mild acne, you may be able to clear your skin using over-the-counter products without any need to visit a dermatologist.
If you have moderate, severe or persistent acne, it’s best to talk to a dermatologist. Alternatively, you can access science-based, personalized acne treatments and talk to a licensed healthcare provider about your symptoms online.