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Boutons d'acné : quand consulter un dermatologue ?

Acne and Pimples: When To See a Dermatologist?

Acne is a very common skin condition – about 85% of people will suffer from it in their lifetime. With the abundance of over-the-counter acne treatments available today, it can be easy to forget that acne is not just a cosmetic problem. It is a real medical issue that often needs to be addressed by a health professional. Given that, how do you know if you should see a dermatologist about your acne? Here are 5 signs you should look out for to answer that question.


1 / If You Are Uncertain if It Is an Acne Outbreak

If you suddenly get red pimples on your face, upper chest, back or elsewhere and have never been diagnosed with acne before, you should see a doctor. Some other conditions, such as rosacea and folliculitis, are very similar to acne. For example, in a form of rosacea, inflamed and sometimes painful papules and/or pustules/pimples may appear on the surface of the skin, just like acne.

Therefore, it is important to properly diagnose your skin condition in order to receive the proper care and/or treatment.

2 / If Your Acne Is Getting Worse Despite Using Over-the-Counter Medications

Mild cases of acne can often be successfully relieved with the help of over-the-counter cosmetics containing, for example, salicylic acid, bakuchiol, or even retinol. However, some cases persist despite the use of these targeted skin care products. In this case, you should visit your dermatologist to initiate a prescription acne treatment.

How long should you try over-the-counter acne treatments before switching to stronger prescription medications? Use over-the-counter products for 10 to 12 weeks. After that time, you should see some improvement. If you have been using these cosmetics regularly and your rash does not improve, or your acne seems to be getting worse, you should see a doctor who may prescribe stronger molecules such as isotretinoin. However, if you are unsure, it is better to see a doctor right away.

3 / If You Have Moderate to Severe Inflammatory Acne, Nodules, and/or Cystic Rashes

If your acne is moderate to severe or very inflamed, you shouldn't waste time trying over-the-counter cosmetics for acne. They simply won't be strong enough, and you'll waste valuable time and money on products that won't work.

Nodules and cysts are serious forms of rashes and should always be evaluated by a dermatologist. These deep skin blemishes can easily cause scarring and should be treated quickly.

4 / If You Think Your Acne Breakouts Correlate With Taking a Certain Medication

Some medications, such as oral contraceptives, can cause acne. If you are taking such pills and suddenly develop skin rashes or they worsen significantly, you should inform your doctor.

5 / If You Are Upset or Even Depressed Because of Your Acne

Let's face it: acne doesn't just affect your skin. It can affect self-confidence, which is associated with valuing the looks of others.

Do you avoid social situations because of your skin? Do you feel depressed?

If you feel your acne is having a negative impact on your life or self-esteem, you should talk to your doctor about it right away. Your dermatologist has treatment options that can not only improve your skin, but also help you deal with the feelings of frustration and despair that can come with acne.

Don't wait. There's no reason to just accept acne breakouts. With the right treatment, you can see improvement in your skin in just a few weeks. So go and consult your dermatologist.


  • [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); Acne: Overview. (2013)

  • Suh DH, Shin JW, Min SU, et al. Treatment-seeking behaviors and related epidemiological features in Korean acne patients. J Korean Med Sci. (2008)


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