How to Prepare for Your Dermatology Appointment for Acne

It's time for your first dermatology appointment, and you want to be prepared. While you may not feel like celebrating, it actually is a big deal. This appointment is the first step on your path to clear skin.

To get the most from this appointment, a little preparation is in order. This will help you feel confident in your treatment plan, and ensure you get the results you want.

Here are a few easy things you can do to get ready for your upcoming appointment with the dermatologist.


Write Down All of Your Questions

Dermatologist using magnifying glass to examine woman's skin

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Before you go see the dermatologist, make a list of any questions you have. Some questions you may want to ask: What type of acne do I have? What can I do in the short term to improve my acne? How long will it take to see results? Or anything else you would like to know.

Bring that list of questions with you to your appointment. When you're in the exam room, it's hard to remember everything you wanted to ask your dermatologist. You don't want to be out in the parking lot after the appointment before realizing you forgot to ask a question or two that you desperately wanted answered.


Be Prepared to Answer Some Questions, Too

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Your dermatologist will have some questions for you too. Like, how long have you had acne? And, what treatments have you tried so far?

Be ready to answer questions about your medical history as well, even issues that don't necessarily have to do with your skin. Your dermatologist will ask about any health issues, past and present. They will also want to know about family's health history if they've had acne or skin cancer for example.

The doctor isn't being nosy. Your dermatologist will need to know all about your health, and not just your skin health, in order to properly help you.


Bring a List of All Acne Treatment Products You're Currently Using

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Make a note of any treatment you're currently using for your acne, both prescription medications, over-the-counter acne treatments, and skin care products. It's more important to list the active ingredients in your over-the-counter products than the actual name of the product. For example, instead of just writing down Oxy, note that the active ingredient is 5 percent benzoyl peroxide.

Be prepared to tell the dermatologist everything you've previously tried, how long you used it, and what type of results you had.


Bring a List of All Other Medications You're Taking

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Your dermatologist will also need to know about any other medications you're using, even if they have nothing to do with acne. If you don't know off the top of your head the specific names, check the label and write it down prior to your appointment.

This is important to avoid any potential drug interactions between the medications you're currently using and new acne medications your derm may prescribe.


Consider Taking a Picture of Yourself

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Here's a common scenario: your acne is worsening so you schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. But when the appointment date rolls around your skin, while not clear, has improved somewhat. While that may seem like a good thing on the surface, it's really important that the dermatologist sees your acne at its worst.

If your acne tends to wax and wane, as it commonly does, take a few photos of your skin when you're going through a really bad breakout. Even if you're not especially broken out on the day of your appointment, your dermatologist can get a fairly accurate impression of your acne by taking a look at the photo.


Go Bare

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On the day of your appointment, don't wear makeup. It's so much easier for the dermatologist to see what's going on with your skin.  Also, don't load your face up with moisturizing cream, douse yourself with astringent, or scrub like crazy at your face.

The morning of your appointment, a simple wash with a gentle cleanser is all that's needed to prepare your skin.


Bring Along a Notebook

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During your first appointment, you'll get a lot of information during a very short period of time. It can be overwhelming, so don't hesitate to bring a small notebook and a pen along to jot down any important bits of information.

To get great results, treating your acne exactly as your dermatologist asks you to is extremely important. The notes you take during the appointment can be helpful down the road to ensure you follow your treatment plan precisely.


Bonus: Research Some of the Most Common Acne Treatments

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All you over-achievers may want to spend a little time in the days before your appointment researching some of the more commonly prescribed acne medications. It's not necessary, but being familiar with the medication being prescribed to you will help you to ask more directed questions about your treatment.

With just a few minutes of preparation on your part will help you get the greatest benefit from the time spent with your dermatologist.

A Word From Verywell

While the initial visit to your dermatologist is a great start, don't be surprised (or too disappointed) if it takes several appointments before you really start noticing a huge improvement of your acne. It can sometimes take a few tries before finding a treatment plan that works for you.

There are things you can do to speed the process along: use your medications exactly as directed, don't skip days, and keep your dermatologist apprised of any bothersome side effects.

Remember, this first appointment is the beginning of a long and, hopefully productive, relationship between you and your dermatologist.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zaenglein AL, Pathy AL, Schlosser BJ, et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5):945-73.e33. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2015.12.037

By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.