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Pimples Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Mild cases of pimples can be treated with OTC medicated creams, cleansers, and toners.
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When you may need a provider

  • Moderate to severe pimples that are not improving with OTC pimple medication.
  • Severe or cystic acne
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The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.

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All treatments for pimples
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When to see a dermatologist

You should consider seeing a dermatologist (skin doctor) if your pimples are not getting better after 3 months of using OTC medications, or if your pimples bother you in any way. Some people decide to see a dermatologist right away because they want a more targeted, faster treatment.

You should also see a dermatologist immediately if you have symptoms of severe acne, like large inflamed lumps, open cysts, or fever. Getting treated by a dermatologist can help prevent scarring and ensure that your diagnosis is acne and not something more serious.

What to expect from your visit

A dermatologist (skin specialist) will usually prescribe one or a combination of pimple medications. They may also try various procedures at their office to help get rid of a pimple quickly.

  • Topical (applied to the skin) tretinoin (Retin-a) or other vitamin A medications help unclog pores and exfoliate skin. They can dry out and irritate your skin so it’s best to start by applying a small amount at night.
  • Topical antibiotics, such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or sodium sulfacetamide (sulfur), treat inflammatory acne by targeting bacteria and can be used with retinoids.
  • Oral antibiotics (like doxycycline, minocycline, and Bactrim) may be prescribed for more severe acne.
  • Oral contraceptives and other hormone-like pills (like spironolactone) can help teenage girls and women whose acne is affected by hormonal cycles.
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane) is a powerful oral medication for people with severe or scarring acne. If you are prescribed it, you will be monitored by a doctor for possible serious side effects.

Prescription pimple medications

  • Retinoids like tretinoin (Retin-A) and adapalene (Differin)
  • Topical antibiotics, such as clindamycin, erythromycin, or sodium sulfacetamide (sulfur).
  • Oral antibiotics like doxycycline, minocycline, and Bactrim
  • Isotretinoin (Accutane)
  • Birth control pill, like Yaz
  • Hormone pills like spironolactone

Best doctor for pimple treatment

  • A dermatologist is a skin doctor who can prescribe effective medications and do procedures, like pimple extractions. You typically see them once every 3–6 months to make sure your acne is under control and to get prescription refills.
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