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Acne

If you have acne, a provider can diagnose you by looking at your breakouts. During your appointment, a provider will also note what types of acne you have and where the breakouts appear on your skin. This helps your provider create an effective treatment plan.

Sometimes what looks like acne isn’t acne. While rare, what looks like acne can be another condition. For example, some people mistake hidradenitis suppurativa, also called acne inversa, for everyday acne. Treatment for this condition differs from that for acne.

Another condition that can be mistaken for acne is perioral dermatitis. It often causes breakouts that look like acne around the mouth.

Seeing a board-certified dermatologist can be reassuring. Whether you have stubborn acne or another condition, a provider can diagnose you and create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

The acne treatment plan that’s right for you depends on many considerations, including:

  • What type of acne (i.e., blackheads, pimples, etc.) you have
  • Where the acne appears on your skin
  • What treatments you’ve already tried
  • When the breakouts started
  • Your age
  • Whether the acne has left you with dark spots or scars

While a treatment plan can vary from one patient to the next, even for 2 patients who have the same type of acne, treatment often follows these guidelines.

Whiteheads, blackheads, or both: If you have these breakouts, you’ll likely apply acne medication to your skin. Your treatment plan may include one of the following:

  • A retinoid
  • A retinoid + benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, or salicylic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide + an antibiotic you apply to your skin

Pimples: Mild or moderate pimples can be treated with medication you apply to your skin. Treatment will often consist of applying one of the following:

  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • A Retinoid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide + a retinoid or an antibiotic you apply to your skin

Acne nodules and cysts: If you have deep, painful acne that often leaves a permanent acne scar, effective treatment can help you see clearer skin and prevent new scars.

Treatment may consist of:

  • Prescription medication that you apply to your skin + taking an antibiotic
  • Hormonal therapy (women only)
  • Isotretinoin (medication approved to treat severe acne)