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What is the benefit of seeing a dermatologist for my acne?

Patricia Farris, MD
Dermatology
There are many effective over the counter remedies for acne. I tell patients to try products with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. If these don't help, it's time to see a dermatologist. Your dermatologist will take a thorough history to see if there are any contributing factors. Medications, hormonal abnormalities and even stress may be culprits. If your dermatologist suspects hormonal problems blood tests will be drawn.
We generally use a combination of prescription medications including retinoid creams and topical or oral antibiotics. Hormonal therapies such as oral contraceptives and spironolactone are helpful in some cases. For more severe forms of cystic acne, isotretinoin may be indicated. This medication requires close follow up including periodic blood tests but it is an excellent way to treat more severe forms of acne. 

If acne is moderate to severe, or if it doesn't respond to over-the-counter treatments, it's probably best to see a dermatologist, or skin doctor. A dermatologist will be able to examine each individual's skin to determine what course of treatment will be best. One huge benefit to seeing dermatologists is that they have the skill to put together an effective combination of medications that will work for each person's individual acne. Instead of guessing what might work for your own skin, a dermatologist knows what types of medication work for each type of acne and can prescribe treatment accordingly. Plus, a dermatologist might be able to recommend other procedures such as microdermabrasion that would not be available without the doctor's help.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.