Should I Go Back to the Dermatologist for Acne Treatment?

My Acne Treatment Isn't Working. Should I Fire My Dermatologist?

Closeup of a stethoscope
Photo: Ryan McVay / Getty Images

Here's a question that I received from one of my readers, Annie J. 

"I’m beginning to think that seeing the dermatologist was a waste of time. I used the medicine he prescribed for me but I didn’t see any improvement. Maybe this doctor didn’t know what he was doing. Should I see this doctor again, or look for a new dermatologist?"

Annie, and all of you out there in her shoes, I can completely sympathize.  It's so frustrating to see a dermatologist for your acne, and not see results.

Now, to get to the meat of your question: should you see this doctor again or look for a new dermatologist?  The answer really depends on a few factors.

If you’ve only just started using your medication, it may not yet have had a chance to work.  It can easily take three to four months for acne medications to work, so if it hasn't been that long yet give it a bit more time.

Same suggestion if you've only seen this doctor once.  Part of the reason acne is so tough to control is because there is no one treatment that works for everyone. So, you are going to have to go through a trial and error period with your dermatologist in order to find a treatment plan that really works for you.

If you’ve been diligent in using your acne treatments for several months without seeing any improvement, by all means let your doctor know. Your dermatologist wants to know how the treatments are working so he or she can reevaluate your treatment plan. 

If you feel like your dermatologist is available to answer questions and concerns, and willing to tweak your treatment plan to fit your, hang in there with this doctor a little longer.  Improvement may be just around the corner.

But what if you've seen this dermatologist for several months (or years), you've diligently followed the treatment plan, and you've not seen any improvement?  Now it may be time to look around for a new dermatologist.

Ditto if you aren’t comfortable with this dermatologist, you don’t like his/her bedside manner or you feel like your concerns are being brushed off.  A good dermatologist wants to work with you to develop a treatment plan that you’re happy with.

Try not to think of these appointments as a waste of time. Think of them as getting you one step closer to clearer skin!

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