Do you follow your Doctor’s acne recommendations?

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In March 2015, an online article in JAMA Dermatology reported the findings of a small study - that out of 143 respondents, around a quarter habitually failed to take their acne medication either as prescribed, or avoided using it altogether. Even though acne is a condition with considerable potential psychological problems as well as the risk of permanent scarring, topical creams were often avoided altogether, and medication regimes were only reliably kept to if they were as simple as taking a single pill, and even then not in all cases. 

Obviously, prescription and over the counter medications can only have an effect on a condition if they are used correctly, so the study, which took place at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, also examined the reasons that the participants failed to take their medication as advised. The study's leader, Steven R. Feldman MD, PhD, was astonished to discover that these rates seemed to have more than doubled following on from a previous similar exercise. 

Although patients weren't directly prompted for reasons, they offered them freely - it costs too much, it's too easy to forget, it's too much trouble, they didn't agree with the doctor and in a small number of cases, their skin had improved so much that they no longer felt medication for a minor problem was appropriate. Although there were minor fluctuations for prescription versus over the counter, and paper prescriptions versus electronic, these weren't felt to be significant. 

In summary, the need seemed to be for convenience and results relative to cost - for example, where a prescription was for a course of oral medication and a topical cream, the pills were taken as directed, and the cream wasn't. For a condition where there is perceived social stigma, asking for over the counter topical treatments could be a factor.

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