6 Important Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist About Your Acne Medication

6 Important Questions to Ask Your Dermatologist About Your Acne Medication

Like many other medical professions, dermatology is a demanding career path. Dermatologists spend years attending medical school and have to pass a number of rigorous exams before becoming licensed. Yet, just because a dermatologist (or any doctor for that matter) has these two important letters (DR.) before his/her name, this doesn't mean you should take their suggestions without questioning why. 

Medical science has it rules, and luckily there has been an upward trend in doctors attempting to personalize treatments.  Yet, this practice is still rather an exception, not a rule. 

Your dermatologist may not always be aware of your personal situation, beliefs, and goals for treatment. Asking questions before committing to a particular acne medication may provide the solution to this problem. If you're unsure about the right questions to ask, here are 6 important ones that can get the conversation started. In addition, even when you get your answers, remember to look for additional information through trusted sources.

Question #1:  Do any of the ingredients have side effects?  If so, what are they?  

There are a number of acne-fighting products available today that are quite effective at getting rid of breakouts. Unfortunately, these products often contain harsh, synthetic chemicals that can do just as much harm as good. Before you agree to try a new product, be sure to ask your dermatologist about whether there are any ingredients in it that can potentially cause side effects, short and/or long term.

Yes, you can find out how many of his or her patients have taken it with success, but you need to more importantly find out how safe it is for YOU to take.   With some treatments, they are only supposed to be taken at a certain dosage for a certain amount of time.  Yet, your doctor may increase the dosage and length of time for your particular case.  Question this!

Additionally, asking about ingredients is a must for people with allergies. What might be a perfectly safe product for most people could be deadly if you have an adverse reaction to it.

Question #2:  Does the product treat the cause of acne or only the symptoms?

You might not know it, but acne actually starts much deeper than the skin. While the most visible signs of acne appear on the surface, the trouble actually begins with your hormones. When there is too much androgen in the blood, your body sends signals to your skin's sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This excess oil clogs your pores and sets the stage for acne-causing bacteria.

When it comes to acne products, there are two basic varieties - those that treat the symptoms and those that treat the cause. While symptom-treating products can improve the appearance of your skin, without something addressing the internal causes of your acne,

you'll never see the lasting results you want. You may decide that treating the symptoms is enough for you, but that's a decision you can only make if you ask your dermatologist what problems the product addresses.

Question #3:  Are there any alternatives to the product?

Even if you ultimately decide to go with the product in question, you should know about any alternatives that may be available. Often times, there will be at least one natural alternative that will be gentler but just as effective as the original product, and it's important that you be made aware of them.

Question #4:  Would you use the product yourself, or would you give to your child?

Sometimes the right decision about whether or not to use a product won't be completely clear to you. In this event, it may be a good idea to get a personal opinion from your dermatologist by asking if they would use the product in question themselves.

Professionally, they may be perfectly content to recommend products that are costly or come with significant side effects, but that doesn't always mean they would risk their own skin on them. Like the rest, this question alone won't give you all the answers you need, but if a dermatologist can't vouch personally for a product, that's a good indication that maybe you shouldn't risk it either.

Question #5:  What type of acne is this product designed to treat?

Many of the most prescribed treatments on the market are designed to treat the most severe cases of acne.  Does that mean because you have mild or moderate acne that it will work quicker or faster?  Not necessarily. This scenario is the same as sunscreen.  Just because the potency is higher doesn't mean you need all the extra chemicals that come with it.  

Side note:  our AcnEase users don't even have to worry about this since AcnEase is a personalized natural medicine that gives you EXACTLY what you need, when you need it. 

Question #6: Can this interact with anything else that I'm taking? 

If you ask this question, don't be surprised if your doctor tells you to ask your pharmacist, however, still push the question and tell them what you're currently taking because you never know what information you might be able to get from them.  Don't just tell them about any medications you consistently take or are currently taking short term, but also list supplements (zinc, vit B) and vitamins or any natural medicines.  

SIDE NOTE FOR MOMS OF PRE-TEENS OR TEENS: BEWARE! 

There is very little if any published evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of many acne medications in patients younger than 12 years of age.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has quite clear standards for what should not be used as acne treatment for pre-teens as they are not safe. Those guidelines exclude most adult acne prescriptive products such as antibiotics, Isotretinoin (Accutane and generics), oral contraceptives, retinoids (Vitamin A derivatives) and most of over the counter products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide or phytoestrogens. 

Additionally, if your teen is using a birth control prescribed for acne treatment, this is an off-label use - meaning it's not approved for the use of acne.  Using a birth control can come with a host of other issues

Basically, whether you're visiting the doctor to eliminate symptoms or to prevent acne from coming, you want to make sure that what they're prescribing is SAFE for your child.

SIDE NOTE FOR PREGNANT OR BREAST-FEEDING WOMEN

Please ask this question to your doctor:  What pregnancy rating does this have?  You want to use something with a pregnancy rating of A.  Anything below that, you may want to seriously reconsider.  Learn more about safely treating acne during pregnancy.

With a promise of clear skin, Dr. A

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