Dealing With Acne: Is It Time To See A Dermatologist?

When to See a Doctor or dermatologist for your acne.

Dealing With Acne: Is It Time To See A Dermatologist?

When it comes to acne, nobody is completely immune. Maybe you or your child is struggling with what appears to be whiteheads and blackheads, or maybe the blemishes are large, red, and painful. Though many forms of acne can be successfully controlled with over-the-counter acne treatments, some will prove to be more of a challenge than others—but when it comes to products, it’s not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. The kicker? Since acne is not a curable condition—only a treatable one—even the dermatologist is not a failsafe option. You’ve probably heard about antibiotic-resistant acne bacteria, and you’ve no doubt heard about the severe side effects associated with certain prescription treatments. With that said, it’s never a bad idea to see a dermatologist for acne—particularly if the situations below are familiar to you.


If the acne you’re dealing with is classifiable as mild to moderate and not cystic, there’s a good possibility that a solid treatment regimen will enable you to achieve the clearer skin you’re hoping for. And what makes a good treatment regimen? For starters, effective ingredients are imperative. Salicylic acid—a beta hydroxy acid that works to slough away dead skin cells—works to keep pores clear, which is why it’s a mainstay on so many ingredient labels. Meanwhile, benzoyl peroxide—which is found both in over-the-counter and prescription products—kills the bacteria that causes acne in the first place, giving it the ability to clear existing blemishes and help prevent new ones. If you’re thinking it sounds wise to pick up a product or system that leverages both ingredients, you’re right—but even among products that leverage effective ingredients, not all are created equal. Benzoyl peroxide is known to cause skin irritation. That’s why Proactiv’s latest 3-Step-Systemuses something called SmartTarget™ Technology to encourage the benzoyl peroxide to get down into the pores and off the surface of the skin. This helps minimize irritation while getting the benzoyl peroxide into the pores where it needs to be to kill acne-causing bacteria. It also helps that each step is so easy to follow; there’s virtually zero guesswork involved. (Bonus? It was shown to clear acne four times faster* than the leading topical prescription.) If you’ve given a regimen such as Proactiv® a fair chance, and you haven’t seen an improvement in your complexion, your skin could benefit from a visit to the dermatologist.


Here’s the deal: there’s mild-to-moderate acne, and then there’s severe and cystic acne. If what you’re dealing with is a face full of red, painful bumps that seem to last for weeks on end and leave behind scars when they’re gone, it’s likely the latter. Most over-the-counter acne treatments have been approved by the FDA to treat only mild-to-moderate acne. While it’s unlikely you’ll do any harm by trying over-the-counter options to treat your acne, if it’s severe or cystic, you might need to seek a specialized course of treatment from your physician in order to get the situation under control.


Think the desire to attain clearer skin has to do solely with vanity? Think again. Acne affects millions of people, and unfortunately a face full of blemishes is just the visible signifier of the havoc it wreaks. Anyone who’s struggled with acne knows that its ramifications are much more than skin deep. If you find yourself slipping into depression and abandoning your social life, and you’ve exhausted your over-the-counter treatment options to no avail, by all means—see a dermatologist.


Finding the dermatologist that’s right for you is a personal matter—so if you have any recommendations from friends and family, it’s always a good idea to explore those options. Even if you don’t, the American Academy of Dermatology makes it easy to explore your options online. Visit to find a board-certified dermatologist in your area.

*Study participants suffering from mild to moderate acne using the most commonly prescribed generic acne treatment gel (as of April, 2014) took 4 weeks to achieve approximately the same reduction in total lesion count as achieved by study participants after just 1 week’s use of PA+. After 12 weeks use, total lesion count reduction data between the same 2 groups showed that PA+ was still twice as fast.

Presented by Proactiv®

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