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Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about my acne?

Yes, a licensed Canadian doctor on Maple would be glad to discuss your skin type, signs of acne and its symptoms with you.

In most cases, they will suggest you try over-the-counter acne treatment products for several weeks, before offering any kinds of prescription acne medications in Canada.

If you have acne prone skin or your acne symptoms are severe or widespread, you may consider seeing a dermatologist to provide you with a more indepth acne diagnosis. If you live in In Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador or Nunavut, you can see a dermatologist on Maple in 24 hours or less.

Can I get a prescription for acne medication on Maple?

Yes, our physicians can prescribe acne medications online during your consultation. Once you accept an acne prescription, you’ll have the option to pick it up from any pharmacy or to have it delivered right to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

What is acne?

Acne is a very common skin condition that will affect most people at some point throughout their lives. It can appear as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, or nodules further beneath the skin.

Severe cases of acne that result in painful nodules under the skin are known as cystic acne.

What are the symptoms of acne?

While the symptoms and signs of acne can vary widely in severity depending on each person, the most common acne symptoms include:

  • Blackheads (clogged pores that are open)
  • Whiteheads (clogged pores that are closed)
  • Nodules (solid, painful lumps beneath the skin)
  • Papules (small, tender red bumps)
  • Pustules or ‘pimples’ (papules with pus at their tip)
  • Cystic lesions (painful, pus-filled lumps beneath the skin)
How severe can acne get?

The severity of your acne can determine the type of treatment and whether it includes prescription acne medication.

Acne is often categorized as

  • Mild – mostly whiteheads and blackheads, with a few papules and pustules
  • Moderate – more widespread whiteheads and blackheads, with many papules and pustules
  • Severe – lots of large, painful pustules, nodules or cysts, potentially accompanied by some scarring
Can acne cause scars?

Yes, unfortunately acne can cause scarring if a breakout deeply penetrates the skin and damages the tissue beneath it.

As the acne clears, the body tries to repair the damage. During the healing process the body produces collagen. If the body produces too much or too little collagen, visible scarring can form.

The good news is that treating acne scars is possible. A dermatologist can prescribe acne scar treatment options to significantly diminish their appearance.

What causes acne?

Our skin’s sebaceous glands naturally produce greasy secretions called sebum. As old skin cells die and are replaced by new skin cells, they break off. When the skin cells combine with the sebum, together they create a plug in the follicle.

When either the sebum or dead skin cells plug the hair follicles in our skin, it causes acne.

This may cause acne directly, but there are no clear answers for why one person may be much more predisposed to experiencing acne than someone else.

Hormones are one commonly believed cause of acne, since testosterone signals the body to produce more sebum. This could also explain why so many people experience symptoms and signs of acne during adolescence.

The increased sebum production allows for overgrowth of the normal skin bacterial flora, called Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes). This overgrowth leads to inflammation and rupture of the hair follicle, causing a tender, red pimple to form.

Other elements like stress or anxiety are also known to trigger acne symptoms.

How is acne diagnosed?

If you’ve never had acne before, and you’re just beginning to show signs of acne, you may still need an acne diagnosis.

Most often, the doctor will suggest a physical exam, so that the severity of your condition can be evaluated.

A physical exam allows the doctor to assess the types of acne lesions, severity and distribution of the involved areas, presence of complications, and contributing factors like skin care products or medications that may be attributing, or screen for signs and symptoms of endocrine disorders that involve acne.

If home remedies and over-the-counter medications aren’t helping your acne symptoms, the doctor may suggest some prescription acne medications.

If you have severe acne symptoms, the doctor may suggest you visit a dermatologist to help provide you with a more detailed acne diagnosis. This may help you identify triggers that are causing your acne flare-ups, as well as techniques for treating severe acne.

How is acne treated and prevented?

It’s important to note that acne is not the result of having a dirty face. In fact, exfoliating or scrubbing your face too often could actually make your acne worse.

The first thing the doctor will suggest if you’re showing signs of acne are home remedies and over-the-counter acne medications.

Some of these suggestions could include:

  • Washing affected areas with gentle cleansers once or twice a day
  • Avoiding possible irritants
  • Avoiding pressure or friction on your skin
  • Avoiding picking, squeezing, or rubbing affected areas
  • Showering after physical activities
  • Avoiding excessive exposure to the sun, or apply sunscreen if going outdoors. Acne treatments can often make the skin more sensitive to sun damage
  • Trying over-the-counter medications that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or alpha hydroxy acids

If these acne treatments and prevention methods aren’t working, the doctor may suggest oral or topical prescription acne medications to treat your symptoms. And remember:

  • Sometimes acne may get worse in the first 1-2 weeks of treatment before it gets better
  • Apply treatment in a thin and even layer, applying more doesn’t mean the treatment will work faster
  • After acne has visibly improved, continue to use the treatment as long as recommended to prevent new breakouts from forming

In some cases, the doctor or dermatologist may suggest certain therapies as acne treatments, such as:

  • Drainage and extraction (where the doctor will gently remove whiteheads and blackheads)
  • Chemical peels
  • Light therapy
  • Steroid injections
What are the most common prescription acne medications?

From whiteheads and blackheads, to more severe cystic acne, there are several options and forms of prescriptions to treat acne with.

Topical creams that contain salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide help reduce oil production and inflammation. Common names include azelaic acid (Azelex) and erythromycin (Benzamycin).

Oral prescriptions are sometimes necessary if the acne is not responding to creams. Some of these include isotretinoin (Accutane), cephalexin (Keflex) and doxycycline (Vybramycin).

Oral contraceptives, or hormonal acne treatments (“the pill”) can also be prescribed for women if oral antibiotics aren’t working. Anti-androgen agents such as Aldactone can be considered.

When to see a doctor for acne?

If none of the home remedies we suggested are helping to clear up your acne symptoms within a month, it’s a good idea to see a healthcare professional.

You may require prescription acne medications in order to reduce the signs of your acne. Also, if your symptoms are severe, you may need to speak with a dermatologist in order to find acne treatments that will help you.

Many people, with all kinds of skin types have struggled with acne for decades, and need professional assistance to treat their condition. Adults who experience a sudden severe acne flare-up could have a more serious underlying condition that may require treatment.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a doctor about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare platform for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors.

Simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it works page to learn more.

Our doctors can assess symptoms and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary. In addition to seeing a general practitioner on Maple, if you live in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador or Nunavut, you can see a dermatologist on Maple 24 hours or less.

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