Even though mild acne isn't a serious condition it is a good idea to see a dermatologist if your skin breaks out. You can receive valuable information about the cause of acne as well as learning about the options for treatment. In addition, there is a condition called keratosis pilaris that is sometimes confused with acne, so seeing a dermatologist can determine which condition you actually have so that you are not wasting time with inappropriate treatments.
Mild conditions of acne can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medications but more severe cases need the attention of a doctor. Acne can cause physical as well as emotional suffering and can lead to permanent scarring if not properly treated. When acne is not responding to over-the-counter medications you should consult with a dermatologist for treatment.
It is a good idea to prepare for your first consultation by writing down as much information about your acne as possible. The doctor will want to know the background -- how long you have had acne, what form it takes (blackheads, whiteheads, lesions etc.) and what you have done to treat it. You may also be asked if your parents or siblings had acne and how severe it was for them.
Since the acne treatment may include oral medications you should be prepared to tell the doctor if you are allergic to certain medicines. Girls may be asked to describe their menstrual period and boys may need to say how often they shave.
The dermatologist may offer a choice of treatments so knowing a bit about the various options can help you make an informed decision. Antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria that cause acne. Antibiotics can be given orally or in a lotion that is applied to the skin. Severe cases may require the use of both forms.
Topical treatments include benzoyl peroxide and retinoic acid. These are usually prescribed in gel form and may cause dryness or reddening of the skin.
In severe cases of acne physical treatments may be recommended. These include the removal of blackheads and whiteheads and the drainage of cysts.
No matter which form of treatment you decide on it is important to follow directions given by the doctor. Don't take more or less of a medication than prescribed. If your acne clears up, continue treatment until advised otherwise, otherwise it may come back.
Always be informed about your condition and get the information you require. Write down questions as you think of them so that you can ask your doctor at your next consultation. Common questions include:
- What kind of treatment is best for me?
- How soon will I start to see results?
- How long will the treatment last?
- Are there any side effects?
- How should I care for my skin?
- Can I use makeup?
- How can I prevent acne scars?
Treatment for severe acne may continue for some time. Each time you see your doctor take the opportunity to clear up any questions or concerns you have about acne or your treatment. Try to become as well-informed as possible so that you can participate fully in your acne treatment.