Reduce Acne Suffering: The Use of Good Clinical Photographs to Improve Treatment Compliance

Known mainly as a serious problem among teenagers, acne is considered the most common skin affliction affecting pre-teens and young adults. However, acne often affects adults through their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, and the incidence of inflammatory acne is growing across all of these groups, although experts are not quite sure why.

Acne has strong effects on the psyche of clients and drives people, sometimes passionately, to find a solution. Today, a dizzying number of acne product and treatment options exist, and consumers do not often stick with a single treatment program long enough to see the improvement. Taking a series of client photographs over time establishes the important pre-treatment starting point, helps demonstrate progress and improvement, and encourages them to continue the course of treatment as originally recommended. The resulting compliance can make a dramatic difference and there are several options for making client photography work.

 

IMPORTANCE OF COMPLIANCE

There are several important reasons to adhere to an acne treatment regimen. Acne treatments take time to work, no matter the severity or the treatment, so patience and commitment are necessary. Acne can progress from mild to severe, due to insufficient or inappropriate treatment, and a severe case of acne can cause permanent scarring. Severe acne usually requires more powerful treatments, which also stress the skin, and some acne medicines introduce the possibility of side effects. In addition, years of acne can cause significant self-esteem issues for clients. Consultative approaches that encourage compliance, such as photograph documentation, can make a meaningful difference.

PHOTOGRAPH DOCUMENTATION OPTIONS

There are numerous hand-held camera solutions available to spa, medical spa, and dermatology practitioners, ranging from traditional point and shoot and digital SLR cameras, to mobile phones and tablets, all of which provide a relatively cost-effective image capture tool, but image quality differs due to the variety of lens, image sensor, flash, and image stabilization characteristics.

All of these cameras have one thing in common – they use standard lighting, either ambient room lighting or white light flash. Standard lighting attempts to replicate the view of the skin seen by the naked eye. With variations due to the strength and exact color of the flash and ambient lighting, this mode may satisfy the need to document the client’s acne condition. These pictures provide a good reference point for tracking an acne treatment plan, help communicate and document improvement, and help to encourage the client to continue treatments.

Ultraviolet lighting helps skin care professionals review additional topical issues, including heavy bacterial and porphyrins buildup and sub-surface skin conditions, including sun and vascular damage. Cameras and imaging systems with ultraviolet lighting provide detailed views not visible to the naked eye. Tracking porphyrins helps clients see the benefits of antibacterial cleansers. Another photographic approach, using cross-polarized lighting and advanced image processing, can target the red or vascular information on and below the skin surface. This approach allows the client to see how well the vascular inflammation is subsiding below the surface even before the appearance on the surface has improved. As a result, clients appreciate improvement sooner and become more agreeable and compliant with the acne treatment program.

Image documentation of acne clients helps set the pre-treatment baseline, communicates and educates about the treatment progress, and helps encourage treatment compliance. Skin care professionals should develop a photography protocol to implement this valuable toolset for their practice.

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