Acne Diagnosis and Treatment

Mar 29, 2023
Patient with Acne
Do you continue to break out despite having tried several acne treatments? With the right treatment and skin care, virtually everyone can have clearer skin. Dermatologists customize acne treatment plans for their patients.

How do dermatologists treat acne?

The acne treatment plan that’s right for you depends on many considerations, including:

  • What type of acne (i.e., blackheads, pimples, etc.) you have

  • Where the acne appears on your skin

  • What treatments you’ve already tried

  • When the breakouts started

  • Your age

  • Whether the acne has left you with dark spots or scars

While a treatment plan can vary from one patient to the next, even for 2 patients who have the same type of acne, treatment often follows these guidelines.

Whiteheads, blackheads, or both: If you have these breakouts, you’ll likely apply acne medication to your skin. Your treatment plan may include one of the following:

  • A retinoid

  • A retinoid + benzoyl peroxide, azelaic acid, or salicylic acid

  • Benzoyl peroxide + an antibiotic you apply to your skin

Pimples: Mild or moderate pimples can be treated with medication you apply to your skin. Treatment will often consist of applying one of the following:

  • Benzoyl peroxide

  • A Retinoid

  • Azelaic acid

  • Benzoyl peroxide + a retinoid or an antibiotic you apply to your skin

Women who continue to get breakouts may need medication, such as a birth control pill that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved to treat acne. The birth control patch may also be effective, as can some other medications.

You’ll find more information about stubborn acne that women can develop at: Stubborn acne? Hormonal therapy may help

Acne nodules and cysts: If you have deep, painful acne that often leaves a permanent acne scar, effective treatment can help you see clearer skin and prevent new scars.

Treatment may consist of:


Acne friendly skin care helps you get the best results

Skin care is so important that without it you may not get the results you want. Even if you follow apply your acne treatment perfectly, new breakouts can appear if you’re too rough on your skin.

You need gentle skin care to clear acne. If you’re scrubbing your face clean or washing it several times a day, you’re irritating your skin. Any time you irritate acne-prone skin, it can lead to breakouts.


Dermatology Associates of Western Pennsylvania patients have access to acne evaluation appointments with our board certified dermatologists and complimentary skincare consultations with Brooke, the practice's skincare expert.  If acne is a concern, contact the practice 412-262-1064!  We'd love to help!