7 Questions To Ask Your Dermatologist

Acne Treatment Questions To Ask at Your Next Dermatology Appointment

What should you ask your dermatologist?  Any skin question is fair game!

But oftentimes you think of questions you wished you would have asked, as soon as you walk out your dermatologist's door.  It's super helpful to write down your questions, to ensure you remember all of them.

Not quite sure what to ask?  While not all of these will be applicable to you, these 10 questions will at least get you started.

How should I use this medication?

Girl applying acne medication in mirror
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It's likely your dermatologist will prescribe you an acne medication, either topical or oral (maybe both.)  Whichever medication you get, make sure you're using it right.

Your derm will give you a rundown of how and when it's to be used, but if you're unclear on anything make sure you ask for clarification.  You want to feel super comfortable and confident with your treatment plan.

What side effects should I expect?

It's a bummer, acne medications can cause side effects.  Knowing exactly what to expect from your medication keeps you from being surprised by, say, peeling and flaking or stinging skin. 

You'll also want to ask your dermatologist: what should I do if I notice side effects?  And what can I do to minimize them?

Can I use my at-home skin care products with the medication you prescribed me?

You probably already have a skin care regimen that you're following at home.  That routine may or may not be appropriate now, depending on the medication you're prescribed and what your dermatologist observes on your skin.

This is especially true if you're using OTC acne products.  These might not play nice with your prescription medications. 

For example, an OTC benzoyl peroxide can deactivate your prescription Retin-A if you use them at the same time.  And that super-abrasive scrub might be too harsh now that you're using isotretinoin

So ask your dermatologist which skin care routine she recommends and get advice for a personalized skin care plan.

Ladies, you should also ask if your medication can be worn under makeup. 

Which sunscreen should I use?

This skin care product should get extra attention.  Since many acne medications cause sun sensitivity, it's a must for anyone using an acne product. 

Sunscreen also helps prevent premature aging, keeps your skin looking young and healthy.  Need another reason to slather up?  Sunscreen use can reduce your chance of developing skin cancer.

Getting the right sunscreen product is important, though, to ensure it's not going to make your acne worse.  Your dermatologist will have some product suggestions appropriate for your skin.  

Can I get a facial, or have a waxing done?

This is something you may not think to ask your dermatologist (until you go to book a treatment.)  And, in fact, some acne medications make facials and waxing a no-go, at least for a while.

Your skin may be drier and more sensitive when using certain acne treatment medications.  The esthetician performing your procedure should ask about medications you're using anyway, and will steer you away from any procedure that isn't right for you. 

Knowing what your dermatologist recommends before you book your appointment will save you time, money, and disappointment of being turned away when you were desperately needing a brow wax.  (FYI: tweezing is a safe alternative while waxing is temporarily off the table.)

How long will it take to see results?

This is what you really want to know, right?  You're excited to start seeing your skin clear, but your medication won't work immediately.

Knowing how long it will take to see improvement will keep you from giving up on your treatment too soon, and give you a realistic time frame to work with.  

Make sure you ask what you should do if you aren't seeing improvement after that time, too.

I also need help with X,Y,Z.

While your main concern may be acne, don't forget to ask your derm about any other skin problems you have as well. 

Itchy, dry skin?  Funny looking mole?  Stubborn dandruff?  Have your dermatologist take a look.   

Remember, your dermatologist is there to answer your questions and help you with all of your skin issues.  There's no such thing as a silly question.  So don't be afraid to ask!

Next Steps:

Preparing for a Dermatology Appointment

5 Ways to Be Your Dermatologist's Favorite Patient


Lavers I.  "Therapeutic strategies for acne vulgaris."  Nurs Times.  2013 Dec 4-10; 109(48):16-8.

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