Is there a test for acne?

To see if you have acne, doctors may:

  • Ask about your family history, and, for girls or women, ask about their menstrual cycles.
  • Ask about your symptoms, including how long you have had lesions.
  • Ask what medications you have taken recently.
  • Look at your skin to help determine the type of acne lesion.
  • Order lab work to determine if another condition or medical disorder is causing the lesions.

How is acne treated?

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Help heal lesions.
  • Stop new lesions from forming.
  • Prevent scarring.

Medications can help stop some of the causes of acne from developing. Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medications to take by mouth or apply to the skin. Talk to your doctor about any side effects that you experience.  

Some people who have severe acne may need additional treatments, such as surgical procedures, injections, and treatment of scars. People of color can develop skin discoloration (dark spots) after acne heals. Your doctor can suggest a treatment approach that can fade existing dark spots. Using sunscreen when outdoors is especially important to help treat and prevent dark spots.

Who treats acne?

The following doctors may diagnose and treat acne:

  • Dermatologists, who specialize in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.
  • Primary health care providers, including family doctors, internists, or pediatricians. 

Living with acne

If you have acne, the following may help you take care of your skin.

  • Clean your skin gently. Use a mild cleanser in the morning, in the evening, and after heavy exercise. Try to avoid using strong soaps, astringents, or rough scrub pads. Rinse your skin with warm water.
  • Shampoo your hair regularly.
  • Avoid rubbing and touching skin lesions.
  • Shave gently and only when necessary to reduce the risk of nicking blemishes. Soften the hair with soap and water before applying shaving cream.
  • Use sunscreen, and avoid sunburn and suntan.
  • Choose cosmetics carefully. All cosmetics and hair care products should be oil free.

Acne can cause embarrassment or make you feel shy or anxious. If you have any of these feelings, talk to your doctor.

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