Severe acne needs special care: When to see the doctor

If you have acne, you know the effort it takes to prevent pimples. Regular skin care at home can help resolve mild to moderate breakouts, but severe acne may need a helping hand. Acne is a medical condition after all, and sometimes it requires a doctor’s expertise. Here’s all you need to know about when to see a doctor about your acne problem and how to make the most of the appointment.


How severe is your acne?

Severe acne is marked by numerous large, inflamed, and often painful breakouts. The condition is also known as nodulocystic acne, as nodules and cysts tend to form beneath the surface of the skin. While nodules are hard lumps, cysts are soft, pus-filled, and prone to scarring. (Need help assessing the severity of your acne? Read our guide on the different types of acne.)

Over-the-counter (OTC) products will not help much if your acne is severe. A doctor would be better placed to diagnose the condition and suggest appropriate treatment plans. It is also advisable to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later—you don’t want the acne to worsen, get infected, or leave scars.


Other signs you need to see a doctor

  • No results with home treatment: You have been using OTC products or home remedies for 10 to 12 weeks, but the acne has not cleared. Prescription-strength formulas may be better equipped to tackle the issue.
  • Possible acne triggers: You suspect that something is aggravating your breakouts. If you started a new medication in the last six months, that could be a factor. Some skin and hair products could also worsen your acne. A doctor can help you identify and avoid likely triggers.
  • Feeling bad about your skin: If persistent acne has begun to affect your self-esteem, don’t push the problem under the rug. Medical intervention for acne may be just what you need.


Which doctor should you consult?

A family doctor is a good place to start. Teens experiencing their first acne attacks can be taken to the paediatrician. Women can consult their gynaecologist regarding hormonal causes for their acne. Doctors will usually call for diagnostic tests to check for or rule out underlying medical issues. They may refer you to a dermatologist as well.

You could also go to a dermatologist directly. Specialists can diagnose your acne problem quickly and prescribe a treatment plan for clear skin.

Alternative medicine approaches like homoeopathy or Ayurveda provide further treatment options. 

  • A homoeopath will seek to correct any inner imbalances that may be causing the breakouts. The goal is to attack acne at the root without resorting to harsh, high-dose medicines. 
  • Ayurveda uses herbs and other natural ingredients to soothe and purify the skin, treat acne, and improve blood circulation. An Ayurveda practitioner may also suggest lifestyle and diet changes to ensure holistic improvements. (Did you know exercise can help ease pimples?)


What to expect at your appointment

The doctor may ask several questions about your acne condition, such as:

  • When did the problem start?
  • Does the acne get worse at specific times?
  • What treatments have you tried so far and how did they work?


As the doctor outlines a treatment approach for you, ask some questions of your own. These include:

  • How should I take care of my skin?
  • Which OTC products and home remedies can I use? Which should I avoid?
  • Will the medication you are prescribing have any side effects?
  • What is the best way to use the prescribed acne medicines? 
  • How long will it take to see results?


Dermatologists will inspect your complexion before prescribing medicines for pimples and dark spots. If the acne is infected, the doctor may put you on a course of topical or oral antibiotics to fight bacterial growth and inflammation. They may also suggest prescription-strength topical retinoids to clear out pore blockages, control oil levels, and minimise the appearance of scars and dark spots. 


Care for your skin the right way

Severe acne is stubborn, and there are no quick fixes. Any acne medicines or treatment that the doctor suggests will take at least a few months to show results. So, you will have to be patient and follow the doctor’s orders. 

While you are waiting for the skin to clear, fine tune your skincare routine. Here is an easy approach to begin with:

  • Cleanse the skin twice daily with a mild cleanser.
  • Apply toner to prime the skin for any targeted acne treatments.
  • Use a plant-based formula like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream to fight acne bacteria and reduce inflammation.
  • Work in a lightweight moisturiser to keep the skin hydrated.

To be on the safe side, always check with your doctor before adding new products to your skincare routine. 





Disclaimer: This page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a recommendation or for diagnostic purposes. Please consult your dermatologist or doctor before acting on any of the information provided here.