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Beneath the Mask: Telemedicine and Acne

In this 2-minute video, Julie C. Harper, MD, shares her tips for utilizing telemedicine to treat acne and outlines the importance of addressing acne and “maskne” for patients’ quality of life.

Dr Harper is a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and consultant for Galderma.


Dr Julie Harper: My favorite tip for dermatologists who are seeing their acne patients on telemedicine is man, take advantage of it. How often do you have somebody come back to you?

It’s funny. We’ve maybe written them two topical products, and we say now are you using blank in the morning and blank at night, whatever the two are that you’ve given. They look at you and they’ll say, “I’m using the white one in the morning.” Most all of them are white by the way.

What you can say is, could you just go to your bathroom or your bedroom, wherever you keep those? Can you go get those pumps, or tubes, or bottles, whatever they are? I want you to show me those. That’s been very effective for me to do that. You actually get to see the bottle, the pump.

Sometimes they show you a sample tube, and so you realize they really haven’t been using very much of it at all. It’s nice that you can actually really physically see that.

The other thing I would say is acne and rosacea in particular have been very, they have benefited from telemedicine because we can do a pretty darn good job seeing people in a telemedicine scenario with acne and rosacea. So many things in dermatology are not amenable to that, but acne and rosacea really are.

I would say don’t forget rosacea by the way because talk about skin care problems that can be exacerbated by wearing something like a mask, another one would be rosacea. We certainly have good treatments out there that can help with that like topical Soolantra, which is a once‑a‑day topical cream that can be applied on the face.

We have an oral, really let’s don’t call it an antibiotic, it’s a modified‑release doxycycline called Oracea that can be used once a day. While we talk about acne and maskne, let’s not forget that there’s also rosacea. Both of those things can be treated well and managed well with telemedicine.

The main thing that I got to say today that I think is so important is this is calling our attention back to a common condition, which is acne itself.

Right now everybody wants to talk about maskne. I think that’s good because it does remind us, or reminds maybe a broader group of people, how much it stinks to have acne and how important it is then because of that that we treat it. When we treat acne, we improve people’s quality of life most definitely.

Again, I would say no matter if it’s maskne, or acne, or rosacea, no matter if it’s severe or mild, if you have it and it bothers you, you need to see your dermatologist.


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