Acne can manifest in several different forms. And, a single person may experience different types of acne at the same time. Mainly, acne is generally associated with red, healing skin from a clogged pore. This healing skin, known as a macule, may last from a few days to several weeks.
People can experience acne at any point in their lives, although it typically begins during puberty when symptoms are usually most severe. Additionally, women may experience regular acne outbreaks during certain times of the menstrual cycle. Regardless of when a person gets acne, it is generally not a serious condition, although it can damange self-esteem, and perhaps be disfiguring.
The severity of acne ranges from person to person. Some people get little acne, even during puberty. Others, however, may experience severe symptoms that lead to permanent scarring. Additionally, severe acne can be painful, in addition to impacting a person's physical appearance. Acne symptoms may appear when using certain cosmetics (particularly those that are greasy), during the onset of puberty until 5 or 10 years later, during the usage of certain medications, and when hormonal levels fluctuate (after childbirth; after ceasing birth control pill medication; etc.). Over time, you may notice acne during certain times each month, before your menstrual period, for example.
When to seek medical help
You may want to see your doctor if your acne is in the form of cysts, which can leave permanent scarring. You can also seek a doctor's help if you notice that your self-esteem has been affected by your acne. Or, if you have tried over-the-counter medication, and still are not seeing any results. And, if you recently begun a new prescription medication, and have noticed significant acne occurring it's a good time to schedule an appointment. Lastly, if you have any scars left from acne, this too might be a good reason to see your doctor.
Deciding to see your doctor is a step in the right direction to start controlling acne, improving self-esteem and reducing future outbreaks. Whether you are experiencing mild or severe acne, treatments are available. When you go in to see your doctor, how will s/he make a diagnosis? What type of doctor should you see? To learn more about the diagnostic process, read our next section on how to diagnose severe acne for more information.