Dermatologist or Esthetician for Acne?

When people realize they need help with acne, often their first thought is to see a dermatologist. Occasionally people think of heading to the esthetician. Which is the better choice? The answer is that they really need to think of finding an acne specialist.

Why Choose a Dermatologist?

A dermatologist spends four years in medical school studying the anatomy and physiology of the human body and doing clinical rounds in teaching hospitals learning about a wide variety of disease and injury treatment. After completing his/her MD, the dermatologist-to-be spends four years in a dermatology residency program to become, in the words of the American Academy of Dermatology, “a physician who has expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric and adult patients with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair, and nails, as well as a number of sexually transmitted diseases. Dermatologists have extensive training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, melanomas, moles, and other tumors of the skin, contact dermatitis, and other allergic and non-allergic disorders and in the recognition of the skin manifestations of systemic (including internal malignancy) and infectious diseases. The dermatologist also has expertise in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin such as hair loss and scars.”

If you have a suspicious mole or other sign of skin cancer, an allergic reaction, or an infectious disease of the skin, there is no question that you should seek the advice of a dermatologist.

But do you notice what is missing from the AAD’s description? There is no mention of acne anywhere on that body’s website. There is no reason a dermatologist couldn’t become an acne specialist, but for some reason few of them do. Ironically, it is the single most commonly seen condition by dermatologists, but most have not made it a priority to study the various modalities that have proven successful by acne researchers. They generally use a very limited protocol when treating acne patients. When confronted with acne, dermatologists typically write prescriptions for antibiotics, retinoids, Benzoyl Peroxide or Accutane® with sporadic results. Elsewhere on this site you will find articles addressing each of these acne treatments.

Why Choose an Esthetician?

An esthetician spends 600 hours in an esthetics program studying treatments to improve the appearance of the skin, along with basic anatomy, physiology, and histology of the skin and its supporting structures. Acne is discussed in the classic esthetics textbooks, but it is not emphasized, and it is possible to pass most state licensing exams without answering more than one or two questions about acne.

Estheticians typically go to work in a spa or salon environment where the majority of their clients are seeking treatments to improve their appearance or to relax and feel pampered. The salon or spa will usually have a preferred line of professional products they use in treating clients. Most professional product manufacturers carry a line of acne care products, and an esthetician in a spa or salon will be encouraged to use those when confronted with acne, regardless of their proven efficacy.

What is an Acne Specialist?

An acne specialist is a licensed esthetician who has gone beyond the state licensing requirements and studied the work of the world’s foremost acne researchers to learn the complex causes and treatments of acne. S/he has studied what ingredients in skin care products contribute to clogged pores, what environmental factors contribute to irritation and inflammation, what dietary components do and do not exacerbate acne, and what treatment modalities show the most consistent success. The acne specialist avails herself of current clinical research and treatments available today, and networks with other specialists around the country and around the world to learn what is working and what isn’t and why. The acne specialist is trained to examine and test each client’s skin for sensitivities and tolerances, to build a custom treatment plan for each individual, and to work together with that individual until his/her complexion is clear.

As of this writing the acne specialist is not a state designation, but they do exist, and for most acne sufferers they are the best hope for finally clearing their acne.

The Acne Treatment Center is staffed by acne specialists who are passionate about helping you to get your skin clear. Give us a call and let’s get started!

©2011 Jane Neville Dudik, The Acne Treatment Center;