The medical world might wish they could discourage us from diagnosing our own illnesses. But when a problem is so widespread and has such a small likelihood of any real danger, then it is best if we as intelligent people learn to diagnose a problem rather than take it to a doctor every time. Acne is probably the best example of that kind of ailment. It is fair to say that at some point or another, almost everybody deals with acne in some form or another. So not only do we have the resources to diagnose our own problem when it comes to this skin condition, we have plenty of resources to prescribe our own treatment as well.
This is not to say that if you or your teenager has a case of acne that is becoming severe, you should not seek out medical help. It is always a good idea to have a family dermatologist already identified and familiar with your child as he or she enters puberty. Then if acne begins to become a real medical problem or is causing unusual discomfort, you can resort to your physician quickly and get the help you need. But even your dermatologist would admit that most common varieties of acne could be handled by "off-the-shelf" treatments or just a change to diet and how the patient handles personal hygiene.
If you or your teenager goes to the drug store to shop for acne medicine, you are going to be in for a real challenge sorting through all the products that are on the market to help you out. It might seem like they are all on the shelf to deal with the same problem. But there are different variations on acne and different medications are there to handle the acne you have. If you get the wrong thing, it will just not be as effective then if you took some time to match your condition with the medication.
Some acne leaves your skin dry and flakey and some kinds are oily and messy in that way. So before you make a purchase, take a tissue or a soft rag and gently clean the face. Pay attention to how your face feels as you clean it as to whether it is dry and crusty or if you are getting a lot of oil off of the affected area. That one clue alone can help you narrow down what kind of medicine to use.
By paying attention to how the acne looks and feels, you can go to the drugstore or to the dermatologist armed with good information and "self diagnosis" so you are well informed to seek a solution to the problem. You are best suited to evaluate the problem you have because you live with your acne day in and day out, you know it well. And by documenting the types of sores and how they behave as part of diagnosis, you will get the right treatment the first time. That means you spend your money well and your path to recover is much faster which is why you buy the medicine in the first place.