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When to See a Dermatologist for Acne: A Complete Guide


    If you find yourself dealing with acne past your teenage years, you’re not alone. In fact, acne is the eighth most common skin disease adults have worldwide. 

    That being said, living with acne isn’t always easy or ideal. Plus, there may be a treatment out there that could give you the clear skin you’ve always wanted. It just might not be on the shelves of your local drug store.

    Today, we’re going to talk about when to see a dermatologist for acne. It can be difficult to figure out when it’s time to get professional help and when you should just wait it out a little longer.

    Read on to learn more about acne and when you should head to a dermatologist to find out about your treatment options.

    What Is Acne?

    We think of acne as something that gets worse during puberty and plagues teens and young adults. When it starts to affect us years after puberty has ceased, we may realize that we don’t actually know what acne is.

    Acne is, at its core, a type of skin irritation. It occurs when the tiny hair follicles on our face become clogged with natural oils, products, or dead skin cells. Common manifestations of acne include whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. 

    A number of factors can contribute to a sudden or on-going increase in acne. A change in hormones can increase your production of sebum, a natural oil that, in excess, can clog the pores. Other causes include the presence of bacteria, inflammation, or the use of a product that doesn’t work well with your skin type.

    Acne treatment is just as varied and specific to your skin type as the possible sources of acne. Dermatologists can help you determine the cause and work to find a clinically-proven method to help control or eliminate your breakouts. 

    When to See a Dermatologist for Acne

    The simple answer to the question, “When should I see a dermatologist for my acne?” is whenever you want. If you’re ready to get some answers about your skin issues, making an appointment with the best dermatologist in your area is a great start. 

    However, some situations are a bit more serious than others. Let’s take a look at some of the circumstances that indicate that you shouldn’t wait any longer to see a dermatologist for acne.

    You Haven’t Been Diagnosed With Acne

    For people who experience severe or chronic breakouts, acne often becomes a diagnosis, rather than just something that pops up now and then. If you are noticing an unusual presence of acne and you have never been diagnosed with acne, we recommend seeing a dermatologist.

    Part of the reason is that there are other skin conditions that may look like acne but are actually something else. These conditions include things like rosacea and folliculitis. If you have a skin condition other than acne, typical acne treatments are not the solution.

    Over-the-Counter Products Aren’t Helping

    Maybe you’ve tried using over-the-counter products to reduce or eliminate your acne and nothing seems to be working. Maybe the skincare routine you’ve had for years suddenly isn’t keeping your skin clear. 

    If drug store treatments aren’t doing the trick, it may be time to see a dermatologist. You may have a skin type that requires a special formulation that isn’t commonly found in stores.

    You’re Noticing Inflammation, Nodules, or Cystic Breakouts 

    Maybe your acne is looking a little bit unusual. Rather than the standard pimples and blackheads, you’re noticing something more severe.

    Inflammation can cause redness, tenderness, and an itchy or warm feeling in affected areas. Nodules and cystic breakouts often look larger and more severe than typical pimples and may be accompanied by tenderness or pain. These kinds of breakouts cannot be treated well with over-the-counter remedies and without medical intervention, you may experience permanent scarring.

    Your Increase in Acne Coincided With Taking a New Medication

    You’ve probably heard the staying hydrated and eating well can improve your skin. Our skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is affected greatly but what we consume, not just what we apply externally. 

    If you recently started taking a new medication and noticed an increase in acne thereafter, now is a great time to see a dermatologist. They are equipped to evaluate the medication you are taking and how it may be interacting with your skin. Remember, always talk to your general practitioner or specialist who prescribed your medication before you stop taking it.

    Your Skin Is Causing You Emotional Distress

    At the end of the day, dermatologists aren’t reserved for only severe or highly concerning skin conditions. Even if you’re experiencing mild amounts of acne, you should feel at liberty to schedule a dermatological appointment.

    This is especially the case if your skin is causing you emotional distress. There is no need to keep searching for solutions to your skin problems alone if they are making you feel anxious, depressed, or less confident. Dermatologists can help you find proven solutions without all of the risky trial and error. 

    A Single Appointment Could Bring You Clearer Skin

    Acne isn’t as uncommon in adults as you might think, but that doesn’t mean that you have to live with it. We hope that our guide on when to see a dermatologist for acne has given you the insight and clarity you need to see a dermatologist today. A single appointment could be all you need to unlock clear, healthy skin.

    Are you looking for more ways to live a healthier lifestyle? Making healthy choices that improve your overall well-being doesn’t have to be difficult. Take a look around at our content for facts, advice, and inspiration that can guide you toward a healthier life today.