Whether it’s a blemish, bump, or blackhead, you want to clear acne fast. We understand–we’ve been there too. But trying to treat it on your own with over-the-counter products is often a waste of time and money. Plus, it can be frustrating. Drug store products are usually only effective for mild acne like whiteheads and blackheads, and shallow pimples. If your acne is deep and inflamed, you need a dermatologist’s help.
A Dermatologist Can Diagnose Your Acne
Your dermatologist can evaluate your skin and prescribe medical-grade products to treat your acne’s specific type—and source. For example, if you have painful and swollen blemishes, you’ll most likely need more than just a topical cream. You’ll need a combination of medications, including oral antibiotics, to clear your skin. And sometimes, you’ll need a steroid shot to bring an inflamed pore down to size. It’s best to let a board-certified dermatologist take a look at your skin.
Most People Make Acne Mistakes
Understandably, you might be tempted to diagnose and treat your own acne, but it’s not advised. Trying to figure it out yourself is a recipe for frustration and wasted time. It could even make you spend money on products that don’t help you. And worse, your skin could scar if you don’t get the proper medical treatment in time.
What Type of Acne Do I Have?
Acne falls into six categories: whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts. You can effectively treat clogged pores that are closed (whiteheads) and clogged pores that are open (blackheads) with over-the-counter products. But anything more severe than this needs medications and medical-grade products. Let’s dive right into the last four types of blemishes—the ones your dermatologist is trained to help you resolve. We’ll talk about what causes them and how to clear acne fast, which, by the way, takes up to eight weeks because, sadly, there is no overnight cure.
These are red, inflamed bumps. They happen when the oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside have spilled out and inflamed the surrounding skin. They do not contain pus. Touching it feels painful. Your dermatologist may go beyond the standard benzoyl peroxide treatment and prescribe a retinoid, antibiotic, or (for women) birth control pills.
These are similar to papules but have a white, pus-filled center. Like papules, the surrounding skin is red and tender. Pustules are caused by hormonal changes and clogged pores. They can–but shouldn’t–be popped because that can cause your skin to scar. The best treatment for pustules is almost always an antibiotic. However, this can also be combined with a topical treatment like a retinoid.
Nodular acne is a painful and hard lesion deep in the skin. It can last for weeks or even months and is not likely to resolve on its own. It’s too deep for topical medications to be effective and often requires an antibiotic. If this doesn’t work, your dermatologist might prescribe Isotretinoin, an oral acne medication.
You might have cystic acne if touching it feels painful. It’s softer than nodular acne. Cystic acne causes are varied but almost always include an infection deep within the skin. This is the most challenging acne to treat and will require oral medication with a topical retinoid. Sometimes a steroid needs to be injected into the pore to clear it out.
Acne is a condition that we all want to clear quickly (but often can’t) with topical over-the-counter medications. Many types of acne require a dermatologist prescription for oral medication. It’s best to let a dermatologist check your skin. If you’re suffering from acne, reach out to us today for a check-up.