Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have acne that's not responding to self-care and over-the-counter treatments, make an appointment with your doctor. Early, effective treatment of acne reduces the risk of scarring and of lasting damage to your self-esteem. After an initial examination, your doctor may refer you to a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions (dermatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • List your key medical information, such as other conditions with which you've been diagnosed and any prescription or over-the-counter products you're using, including vitamins and supplements.
  • List key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • List questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.

Below are some basic questions to ask your doctor about acne. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.

  • What treatment approach do you recommend for me?
  • If the first treatment doesn't work, what will you recommend next?
  • What are the possible side effects of the medications you're prescribing?
  • How long can I safely use the medications you're prescribing?
  • How soon after beginning treatment should my symptoms start to improve?
  • When will you see me again to evaluate whether my treatment is working?
  • Is it safe to stop my medications if they don't seem to be working?
  • What self-care steps might improve my symptoms?
  • Do you recommend any changes to my diet?
  • Do you recommend any changes to the over-the-counter products I'm using on my skin, including soaps, lotions, sunscreens and cosmetics?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first develop this problem?
  • Does anything in particular seem to trigger an acne flare, such as stress or — in girls and women — your menstrual cycle?
  • What medications are you taking, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs as well as vitamins and supplements?
  • In girls and women: Do you use oral contraceptives?
  • In girls and women: Do you have regular menstrual periods?
  • In girls and women: Are you pregnant, or do you plan to become pregnant soon?
  • What types of soaps, lotions, sunscreens, hair products or cosmetics do you use?
  • How is acne affecting your self-esteem and your confidence in social situations?
  • Do you have a family history of acne?
  • What treatments and self-care steps have you tried so far? Have any been effective?
Nov. 08, 2014

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