If you have acne that's not responding to home 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, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down your key medical information, such as other conditions with which you've been diagnosed and any prescription or over-the-counter medications you're taking, including vitamins and supplements.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Write down 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?
- Are there any self-care steps I can take to 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 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:
Oct. 21, 2011
- When did you first develop acne?
- 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 currently 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, 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 have you tried so far? Have any been effective?
- Questions and answers about acne. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Acne/default.asp. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Acne, rosacea, and related disorders. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..00016-X&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=273578979-2#4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..00016-X--s0095. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Ofori AO. Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis of acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 10, 2011.
- Bowe WP, et al. Diet and acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2010;63:124.
- Ofori AO. Treatment of acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 10, 2011.
- Ofori AO. Light-based, adjunctive, and other therapies for acne vulgaris. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Aug. 10, 2011.
- Soltes B. Intense pulsed light therapy. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America. 2010;37:489.
- Acne scarring. American Academy of Dermatology's AcneNet. http://www.skincarephysicians.com/acnenet/scarring.html. Accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
- Tea tree oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Alpha hydroxy acids. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Zinc. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.
- Saccharomyces boulardii. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 9, 2011.