Why Your Acne Treatment Isn’t Working

by Shirley Chi, M.D.

Whether your acne treatment is an over-the-counter system or a dermatologist-prescribed regimen, the first thing I do when patients ask me why their skin isn’t improving is to go over their routine step by step.

Quite often I find that patients are skipping steps in their regimen, or only following a regimen for a couple of weeks then giving up because they don’t see an improvement. Treating any skin concern can take up to 6 or 8 weeks to take effect, because that’s how long cell turnover and skin renewal takes. For this reason, I generally like to see my patients back in the office for a follow-up visit approximately 6-8 weeks after their initial consultation, and I let them know during their first visit that results may not be evident until I see them at the follow-up appointment.

I give the same advice to those who wish to try over-the-counter medications first: If you are sticking with your over-the-counter regimen and you aren’t seeing a significant improvement after 6 to 8 weeks, then it is time to make an appointment with your local board certified dermatologist.