Note : This is not a complaint or a rant about any or all dermatologists. This is just my personal experience with dermatologists about my acne ONLY.
As someone who has seen their share of dermatologists for acne, I think it’s only fair for me to say that not one of them helped me. Their treatment for acne was the same, whether I was 14 or I was 34. If I had had some guidance in my early twenties about proper diet and skin care I would not have fought acne well into my 30’s.
I have had a lot of problems with the skin on my face, which I’m really happy to say I have resolved on my own. My experience with dermatologists started when I was really young. If I remember right I was 8 or 9 years old and I used to get white patches on my face. These patches had come and gone throughout my childhood. Various doctors gave me topical ointments and steroids for these patches which did not work. Imagine that, steroids for a 9-year-old. I was then taken to a top dermatologist who was visiting the city for a few days. I still remember he set up his temporary office in the front room of this huge old house. You had to walk up about 30 steps from the road to reach the front door of the house.
His had placed a desk near one of the huge windows in the room. Anyway, after listening to what my Mom told him, he went on to tell her how I should avoid wheat, milk, rice, tomatoes, brinjals, spinach and the list went on. I remember these 6 only for some reason. The problem I see today with telling people to avoid a huge list of foods is that you’re not telling them how to do it, why you’re telling them to do it and what to eat instead. Add to the fact that I was 9 and the list he gave were things we ate on a daily basis, you can bet the diet was never followed even for a day.
Maybe he wanted to check if I was allergic to anything, but the list of what I remember were really random things. Next, if I did somehow avoid all the foods he told me to and my patches cleared I had no way of knowing which food I was allergic to. So what was I supposed to do? Avoid all those foods forever? Not to sound like a smarty pants, but I cured those white patches on my own. How? By drinking an extra glass of milk and eating a lot of spinach. Coincidentally, these 2 foods were on the list that I was told to avoid. So basically those white patches were a calcium deficiency.
When I was 14 my acne started. A physician I was seeing for a cold, prescribed a vitamin A supplement for my acne. She told me it would make my skin clear. After taking it for 6 months and seeing no results I stopped. Throughout my teens and twenties, all the doctors I saw for my acne gave me antibiotics and topical creams like Benzoyl Peroxide, Salicylic acid, Retin-A, topical Isotretinoin. All these big sounding medications lost the battle with my acne. My acne did not decrease while the redness and painfully dry irritated skin increased. I strongly believe that my skin got sensitive after all these treatments.
Fast forward to a few years back. I started going to a skin clinic for my acne. The reason I went was that I assumed they would combine skin care along with treatment for acne. I thought I would cure my acne and make my skin great. Finally!! All I got was a dermatologist who was little friendlier than normal but the treatment remained the same – antibiotics and topical ointments!! I was told I needed a few peels and then laser sessions. All through these peels, my acne was active and more acne kept forming. They never stopped. As I grew older they got bigger, red and painful. They moved from my cheeks and forehead to around my mouth, chin, between my eyebrows, places where I had never had acne before. Basically, I knew I was losing my battle with acne.
If you are 25 and have had the same experience as I have, why don’t dermatologists help? First, they have no idea what is causing your particular acne? Sure they know how the actual acne pustule is formed, i.e the pore getting clogged etc. but the factors leading up to this are a mystery to them. Before the actual acne appears on your face a lot of things have been going on in your body. Maybe your body is in a state of inflammation, maybe your hormones are imbalanced. None of this is taken in effect by them while trying to cure your acne. No advice is given on diet or basic skin care.
Dermatologists know acne, but they do not know skin care. More often than not the prescribed medication for acne leaves the skin worse. The medication deals with acne superficially. Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause acne and topical ointments try and do the same. However, these bacteria alone do not cause acne.
I wasted precious time trying to find that perfect dermatologist or skin clinic who would have the answer and cure for my acne. However, I never found them. What I found was that my skin was getting worse. Because I took so many antibiotics my acne got worse and turned cystic. At one time my whole face was covered with cystic acne. These left horribly indented scars which even today are difficult to get rid of. If I had just dealt with my acne on my own my skin would have been much better. Eventually, I found out what caused my acne and few ways to deal with it.
Also, acne goes way beyond being a physical problem. Acne affects people mentally just as bad. Any treatment for acne needs to take this into account. The person suffering from acne needs to be listened to. and be assured that her acne will be cured, one way or the other.
What I hope that is acne sufferers will realise that there are other options out there besides medications, which sometimes only make the problem worse. Don’t get me wrong, if dermatologists have or are helping your skin heal then great. Otherwise, you’re better off looking elsewhere and making changes in your life that work with your body to heal the acne.
Have you ever had any experience, good or bad, with a dermatologist with regards to acne? Comment and tell me.
Jennifer F. Smith saysDecember 10, 2016 at 2:00 am
Thanks for sharing your long acne story. I agree with you. Because my dermatologist says, there are a lot of causes of acne but most of them are dairy products and skin care products which contain low ingredients. She also told as you have described. I was suffering from acne when I was 17. Now I am 24 and acne and pimples free. Actually, Acne is a common teenage problem. In America, there are 90% people suffering from acne and 85% of them are teenagers. My acne causes were for taking unlimited dairy products and using these skin care products which contain low ingredients. I understand everything and avoid dairy foods from my diet and start using top branded skin care products from Boutiqueken.You may visit boutiqueken to know more.
Anjali Lobo saysDecember 10, 2016 at 7:45 am
Thanks for commenting Jennifer. Happy to know you found out what was causing your acne. 🙂
Jenny Spears saysFebruary 6, 2017 at 5:10 am
Glad you have found the culprit of your continuous acne problem! Just want to share, you might want to take note of your food intake, dairies and chocolates are some of the most popular causes of acne too. Thanks for sharing by the way!
meshel saysOctober 9, 2017 at 8:48 pm
your experience rings true for me. I am 26 and have cystic acne all over my face, primarily in the middle of my cheeks where everyone can see them. I remember at 14 when my self esteem was plummeting from getting small pimples, I was thinking that I wont have to suffer anymore when I am older..but I was so wrong 🙁 it has gotten worse, and out of so much desperation all these years I still go to dermatologists hoping one of them will understand my skin and what it needs.
I actually had only one good year of skin, at 25 years old when I was pregnant for a short while. I had stopped using ointments, creams, and just washing my face with water. My skin had not been that clear in so many years, so I think that these persistent painful cysts on my cheeks are simply from hormonal sensitivity (despite having normal hormone levels).
I hope one day my acne will be cured as yours has. In the mean time, I have been reading your posts and it has been really helpful for reassessing how I view my skin and seeing that ultimately, I am going to have to deal with my skin on my own.
Anjali Lobo saysOctober 10, 2017 at 7:01 am
Thanks for commenting. It makes me happy that my posts have helped you. You will be cured, don’t worry.
Have you tried changing your diet to see if that helps?
Lauren saysApril 23, 2018 at 8:53 am
Hello there! Going through the same experience now and would love to hear what you learned to be the cause of your acne/how you stopped it. I am 21 and swear on my life I have broken out more than I ever did in middle/high school! I went to a dermatologist thinking I would finally see a difference, and even after explaining to him (similarly to you) that benezyl paroxide and salistic acid treatments don’t work for me, he prescribed it to me anyway! I had to go back and reiderate to him that it literally causes me a rash of acne when used. I felt even more discouraged at the fact that he couldn’t tell me what caused my acne… any person who looks at it can clearly see its hormonal (which to me would suggest some sort of oral medication), but he just said “it can be caused by a number of things” and continued on with ordering up further drying topical treatments for my combination skin. I completely agree with you that I felt ignored, and even more hopeless than I felt going in. I really hope you’d be able to disclose what your treatment was because I’m so tired of struggling with this 😞
Anjali Lobo saysApril 23, 2018 at 11:42 pm
Thank you for your comment. I feel your frustration. I too never got a clear answer as to what was causing my acne and as you said it is discouraging to say the least.
The cause of my acne was a bit tricky but it was due to excessive inflammation ( at least that is what I felt ). This inflammation was being caused by the amount of sugar I was eating. So even though I ate a very healthy diet, I was eating desserts along with it. What is the point of eating healthy if you can’t reward yourself, right? But the rewards were giving me horrible cystic acne. But I found this out only after I had cut out sugar and my acne cleared. So I kind of found the cause of my acne after I found my cure. Acne is kind of tricky that way, to treat.
Don’t worry though, the best form of treatment is to make a few diet changes like cutting out sugar from your diet. If you feel it is hormonal the diet changes will certainly help. You can also try drinking a green smoothie like the one I mention here https://www.yourbeautychronicles.com/green-smoothie-recipe-for-great-skin/
Instead of BP apply honey to your face to help healing. Honey will also heal your skin which has been dried out due to medications.
I have emailed you as well.
Mackenzie A saysJuly 1, 2018 at 5:05 pm
thank you for your story! i’m currently in highschool & when i was 13, i battled with really bad acne (i have combination skin) and my tzone would break out really badly & was covered with new inflamed pimples (those with pus) daily, and my mom brought me to the dermatologist at the end of the following year – the medication worked perfectly for about 14 months after so i quite literally had “perfect” skin when i was fifteen. i took the medication consistently for the first 6 months and after that i would only see the dermatologist and take new medication when i broke out badly (which again, only happened twice). however, the year after that, my acne started back up and became worse, even after i went to the dermatologist. i discovered my skin had also become photosensitive from all the antibiotics i had taken. the skin on my cheeks were dry, and every time i tried to put any moisturizer or aloe vera my skin burned like CRAZY. i felt so conscious and frustrated about my skin every single day and tried so many ways to make it better. my cheeks are a lot better now, but my t-zone still breaks out and i’m still finding ways to make my acne go away! thank you for the part on how acne affects us mentally as well – i think it’s important for everyone with acne to know that it’s very common and will eventually go away!
Anjali Lobo saysJuly 12, 2018 at 12:06 pm
Thank you for sharing your story Mackenzie. 🙂
Alicia M. Bonus saysApril 10, 2019 at 10:15 pm
I’ve completely lost faith in dermatologists. For over a year, I’ve been dealing with acne and cystic acne, due to stress, hormones, ethnicity, and Crohns Disease. I left my dermatologist, and instaed I turned to over-the-counter skin care products, such as Boscia from Sephora. And, it’s worked for a solid four months on my skin. I’m still agry at the thought of how my dermatologist for many years have failed me, when I could’ve taken matters into my own hands long ago.
Anjali Lobo saysMay 10, 2019 at 12:01 pm
Sorry to hear about your experience Alicia. Most times dermatologists are of no help when it comes to acne. Happy to know you found something that works for you.
Alicia M. Bonus saysAugust 5, 2019 at 5:18 pm
I can relate what you’re going through. It took me two years to clear up any cystic acne on on my face. I’ve been to the dermatologist four times during those years, and nothing helped. I was so desperate for change, that I resorted to trying out skincare from IHerb.com, Etude House, and Sephora. The products from Sephora helped my skin for four straight months then went suddenly went back from having cystic acne acne, but changed my skincare routine. I refuse to go back to the dermatologist since then, and instead, I went to my regular family doctor. She was much more understanding then any doctor I’ve visited in those two years. She prescribed me Minocycline, which has worked slowly, but surely. It’s already been a month, and I haven’t had cystic acne since.