I Went to the Dermatologist and I'm Feeling Apprehensive. What Do You Think?

Updated on March 24, 2011
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
15 answers

I went to the dermatologist today for adult acne, and he prescribed Retin-A gel and AcZone topical antibiotic. I'm not sure what I was expecting, if anything, but I'm feeling a bit apprehensive about this course of treatment. Have any of you tried this? Does it work? Should I be looking into more homeopathic treatments? I have never been one to jump on the homeopathy bandwagon but lately for some reason I really am wanting to learn more, especially for dermatology. I'm approaching 30 and I want to keep my skin looking as good as possible. What has been your beloved regimen? What works for you? What has been your experiences with dermatology and the things they prescribe versus organic-type treatments?

Update: I should add that I eat perfectly healthy, mostly whole foods, no fast foods, no fried foods. I only drink water, no soda, coffee, or tea. I wash my face once or twice a day with Olay wash. I use an Olay SPF moisturizer daily. I do not take supplements.

Update: As a response to some of you who have suggested Benzoyl Peroxide treatments like ProActiv (and most of the OTC acne 'systems' contain this), I'm allergic to it. Benzoyl Peroxide is horrible!!!

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answers from Dallas on

I know exactly what you mean. I went to the dermatologist last week for my adult acne and I am 38 years old. It had been a long time, but mine told me that as an adult you mostly have to treat from the inside out. I was put on an antiboitic for 30 days so far and am use a ethrymyacin face gel and was given this great face wash that they sell at the doctor's office. It is really working and my face is getting better. I had some of the acne pimples that were hard and underneath the skin and they are almost gone. They also recommended getting a light chemical peel to help with the acne and minimize pores. They do it in about 5 minutes, but didn't schedule one yet.

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answers from Washington DC on


You can try changing your diet. Acne is caused not only by skin conditions but by diet as well...

If you drink a lot of sodas - acne will pop up. Don't go with the old wives tale about chocolate though!

Make sure you wash your face daily...keeping it simple! nothing elaborate. Make sure you don't over moisturize your face - that can cause even more acne. Just as drying your skin will cause it as well.

It's finding that "right balance" that's hard. I love Olay facial cleansing...one squirt and it covers my face - warm water wash cloth to rinse off.

Make-up off EVERY NIGHT before bed.
Pay attention to the make-up you wear - too heavy - clogs pores and causes more acne!!!

It's not easy - but you can do it. Drink plenty of water - avoid soda and the unhealthy diet of fried and fast foods. I know that sounds funky - but it's true!!!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I went to a dermatologist for acne when I was a teenager. They tried the Retin-A, creams, and what I'll call freezing my face (liquid nitrogen) and I can't say it helped. I cleared up as soon as they put me on tetracyclin (sp?). Years later when I had a flare up they put me back on it and again it cleared right up.

Today I don't have that problem. I assume back then it was teenage hormones. Today my face tends to be on the dry side.

While drinking plenty of water will help keep your skin nice, you may need a short term antiobiotic like erythromcin or tetracyclin to clear it up.

Just be careful on tetracyclin because I believe it does decrease the effectiveness of the bc pill and can cause teeth discoloration if you get pregnant while on it. These are just things to discuss with your dermatologist if you choose to go this route.

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answers from Chicago on

I switched around my products until I found something that works. I use the "Say Yes To" line, which is 99% natural/organic, no phtalathates, petrol, etc. I used to use the Tomatoes line of theirs but switched to Cucumber line as it is more calming. I suffer from adult hormonal acne. Worst when I am pregnant (thus no Retin-A products) or PMSing. I also try to eat healthy 99% of the time as it really makes a difference in my skin, I stay out of the sun, and stay hydrated. I did use Retin-A and other topical things when I was a teen and in my 20s (I am 33 now). None of them really 'worked' well. Dried my skin, gave me a rash, were too aggressive for my acne-prone yet sensitive skin, etc. And, if you went in the sun without a high SPF and used Retin-A, your skin will CHAR. Just a warning as I had ashy burning across my cheeks and nose in my late teens just for that reason. They tried erithromycin ointment, Dura-gel, Retin-A and another Retin-A derivative, and a few other things. I would take a long look at the makeup products you use (anything BUT BareMinerals makes me break out -- ANY liquid foundation at all .... even just for a day). I also let my skin be make-up free on the weekends unless I am going somewhere special. Good luck and proceed with caution if you use what was prescribed!


answers from Las Vegas on

Proactive works great! Keeps your skin healthy and acne free! If I were you I would try that first. I've been using it for 2 years now and I LOVE IT!
Good Luck!


answers from Los Angeles on

Ugg. I've used it all. Retin-A is pretty tough on the skin and it actually THINS the skin, which is not good, either! I've been using a line called NeoStrata Gel Plus AHA 15 for about 18 months and I absolutely love it. I very rarely break out anymore and it also has diminished my fine lines -- bonus! Might seem a bit expensive at about $22 a bottle, but a bottle lasts me about 5-6 months because you only have to use a tiny amount.


Good luck! I'm like you in my healthy eating/drinking/living; but have been dealing w/ adult acne on and off for 20 years...

Oh, p.s. I also use Kiss My Face Potent and Pure Start Up Exfoliate Face Wash for about the same time and it's really great, too:



answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter was given a prescription of Retin A for acne. Unfortunately, she did not respond to that particular med but I used it on the advice of the dermatologist for my own skin. I loved it! It made my skin noticeably nicer although I do not have acne. Now I just use Retinol which is the OTC version. Not as strong but it helped the appearance of my skin. I would give it a try if I were you. (I know people swear by proactive but it did nothing for my daughter. If you are still struggling with acne approaching 30 I think it is time for a prescription. JMO)



answers from Boston on

Use a tiny bit of the retin-A every other night until your skin gets used to it or your skin will dry out (and the every other night might always be enough). But the retin-A is amazing. I love it. It clears up acne in like 2 days and leaves your skin feeling so soft.

Good luck.


answers from Dallas on

The topical anitbiotic has worked well for me. Retin - A caused a lot of redness and peeling. I use salicylic acid products. Clean and clear or Nutrogena usually. They make adult acne products with this ingredient. Be sure to moisturize so your skin doesnt overproduce oil to make up for all you are washing away and all the drying ingrediants in acne products. Does your derm know you are allergic to Benzoil peroxide? What he's prescribing is sooo much more powerful and very expensive.



answers from Amarillo on

I went through pretty much the exact same thing you are describing about 6 months ago. I'm 31 and had mild acne, with some small bumps along my hairline and the occasional big zit on my chin. I couldn't tolerate the ProActiv either, it gave me horrible red scaley patches on my face. I decided that it was time to see a derm, not only for the acne but also for a skin regimen as I get *older*. I was really surprised at her advice. She basically said that for a regimen, I should just wash my face a couple of times a day with a mild cleanser (dove or cetaphil). That's it! I was like, no toner? no moisturizer? no night cream?? She said the Olay night cream I was using was probably the acne culprit. She said that unless your skin gets read and patchy, you don't need moisturizer. That 'tight' feeling your skin gets after you wash it is totally fine. She also prescribed a once a day antibiotic and a topical antibiotic. I ended up with a yeast infection after like 2 weeks of that, so I stopped. But my skin has cleared up a ton anyway. I asked her for a Rentinol as well, but because it's super expensive I haven't filled the precription yet. Hope this helps!

PS~I DO still use a tinted moisturizer that has SPF 30 during the day, just no night cream.



answers from Johnstown on

You may want to look into Mary Kay skin care. It's worked wonderfully at clearing up acne and cystic (NASTY!!!) acne in several of my customers.



answers from Richmond on

I use Retin-A and Duac and it works great. Retin-A is also great for wrinkles and sun damage if you have any...I sure do :)


answers from Provo on

My face dries out like crazy whenever I'm on anything that isn't geared towards the more natural side, I have however found that St. Ives Green Tea face wash has helped my face IMMENSELY. Even with my most hormonal of cycles, it has kept my acne to a minimum. I would try switching to a different product before you use something so heavy duty. I have also found that the Burts Bee's Radience moisturizer is AMAZING for my skin. All the others don't moisturize enough or to much, this was just perfect.
I think that if you just experiment with different products, you might find something you would like better than Olay.


answers from Oklahoma City on

Hi N.,

Here's the stuff I've been using for almost 7 years. It's actually meant for your skin and there are no chemicals. I am 56 and folks tell me I look 20 years younger. You can bet I love that! You can watch this video to learn more:

Hope it helps,
V. Wright, CNC


answers from Dallas on

You can always give it a try and see if it works on you. Then if it does clear up your acne you can switch back to natural products. If your acne is bad than the prescription stuff will probably clear it up better and faster than organics. You could try switching from the olay and trying Cetephil products which are gentler. Don't exfoliate-this makes it worse. I don't struggle with acne but I do have sensitive skin and before when I would use stuff to harsh for my skin then I would break out. Also store brand makeup breaks me out pretty bad, so take a look at your products and wash your brushes weekly.

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