Your acne won’t go away, and you don’t know why. You’ve cleansed every morning and night. You’ve tried every product in the drugstore aisle. And nothing is making a difference.
Is it time to see a doctor? “It’s a good idea to see a doctor sooner rather than later,” advises Dr. Kenneth Mark, a dermatologist with offices in New York City, Southampton, N.Y. and Aspen, Colo. “In mild acne cases, over-the-counter products may help. But you could also be wasting your time and money in not optimizing your acne treatment regimen right away.”
Besides throwing away cash on the wrong products you could actually be risking long-term scarring. “It is bad enough to have acne, but to then have it leave permanent residual marks is much worse,” adds Dr. Mark.
That said, a prescription may or may not be the right first step for you. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends trying benzoyl peroxide or a topical retinoid first. As a next step, there is a new over the counter option on retail shelves called Differin® Gel 0.1%. Differin® Gel had been available by prescription since 1996, but was recently approved by the FDA for OTC use. If these options are not clearing your acne within 3 months, you should consult a dermatologist as you may need a prescription like Epiduo® Forte Gel.
Five ways to know you should get to a doctor:
If your breakouts are persistent.
When acne does not come and go and starts to feel constant, it could be time to see a doctor. This includes “any acne that is fairly widespread – for example, many lesions on the face as opposed to just a few,” Dr. Mark explains. Moreover, any time the chest or back is affected in addition to the face there is cause for concern.
If over-the-counter products aren’t working.
One pimple will often go away in two to five days, but all-over breakouts can persist for weeks. If acne doesn’t respond to drugstores remedies like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or adapalene gel 0.1% in three months, it may be time to see a dermatologist. “When over-the-counter regimens fail and soaps or cleansers aren’t cutting it, topical prescriptions may be required,” says Dr. Mark.
If you have cystic acne.
The most common cause for scarring is cystic acne, which typically manifests as large, red nodules and bumps on and under the skin. If you have large, painful cysts don’t wait, see a doctor. “Even if it is [just] inflammatory, it is important to see a dermatologist,” urges Dr. Mark.
If you have milia.
Milia are tiny whiteheads that some people find irresistibly ripe for popping. Don’t do it! “They are best treated by a doctor as they can be removed most precisely,” insists Dr. Mark. “Extracting them yourself can cause more inflammation and eventual scarring.”
If you are anxious or depressed about your blemishes.
Acne can cause significant stress and self-esteem issues. But a good regimen can help treat existing breakouts and help prevent future flare-ups. So, honestly, why wait?
Important Safety Information
Indication: Epiduo® Forte (adapalene and benzoyl peroxide) Gel, 0.3%/2.5% is indicated for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris. Adverse Events: In the pivotal study, the most commonly reported adverse reactions (≥1%) in patients treated with Epiduo Forte Gel were skin irritation, eczema, atopic dermatitis and skin burning sensation. Warnings/Precautions: Patients using Epiduo Forte Gel should avoid exposure to sunlight and sunlamps and wear sunscreen when sun exposure cannot be avoided.
Erythema, scaling, dryness, stinging/burning, irritant and allergic contact dermatitis may occur with use of Epiduo Forte Gel and may necessitate discontinuation. When applying Epiduo Forte Gel, care should be taken to avoid the eyes, lips and mucous membranes.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1‐800‐FDA‐1088.
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