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Treating Patients with Acne by Telemedicine in the Era of COVID-19

Sponsored by Galderma


AdvertisementAcne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually.1 Facial acne (forehead, cheeks, nose and chin) is the most common and often the most visible presentation of the disease, but more than half of patients with facial acne (52%) also have truncal acne (chest, shoulders and back).2


Acne is diagnosed by examining the patient’s skin with a simple, visual inspection. In rare cases, a lesion or pustule may be swabbed or scraped for microbiological examination or culture to rule out other sources of infection.


Benefits of Virtual Visits for Acne Patients

With stay-at-home orders in effect in the United States because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many dermatology practices have transitioned from live appointments to telemedicine visits. They have found that switching from live to virtual visits is especially amenable for patients with acne, especially those with severe acne who are taking isotretinoin and must be seen every six weeks. With telemedicine visits, dermatologists can diagnose new patients with facial acne. For existing acne patients, dermatologists can provide uninterrupted care and treatment, and hear directly from patients about their progress with a specific acne treatment – just as they can with in-person visits in the clinic.


“Our practice has found that virtual acne visits can be as efficient and effective as in-person visits, namely because the evaluation of acne is very visual and the treatment is not procedural,” says Julie Harper, M.D., a dermatologist at Dermatology & Skin Care Center of Birmingham in Alabama and Galderma consultant. “We were surprised to find that telehealth visits with our acne patients in their own home even have a distinct advantage. If I ask a patient which medications they’re using to self-treat, they’ll often walk to their bathroom and show me, so I can see those products for myself.”


Challenges in Treating Truncal Acne

Although telehealth visits for patients with facial acne are typically straightforward and simple, virtual visits for patients with truncal acne can be challenging as the shoulders, back and chest aren’t typically seen on a video chat. Now that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved AKLIEF® (trifarotene) Cream, 0.005%, for the treatment of acne vulgaris in patients age 9 years and over, clinicians should ask facial acne patients whether they are also experiencing truncal acne. AKLIEF Cream is a unique, highly targeted retinoid that has been demonstrated to reduce inflammatory lesions on the face, back, chest and shoulders and to be safe and well tolerated.3 It is the first topical treatment specifically studied and proven safe and effective to treat both facial and truncal acne. AKLIEF Cream also contains the first retinoid molecule to receive FDA approval for the treatment of acne in more than 20 years.4,5,6


The FDA approval was supported by data from pivotal Phase 3 clinical trials of once-daily AKLIEF Cream in patients with moderate acne on the face and trunk, including two 12-week trials of efficacy and safety and one 52-week safety trial.4 The two identical 12-week, randomized, multicenter, parallel group, double-blind, vehicle-controlled clinical trials of 2,420 patients showed that AKLIEF Cream significantly reduced inflammatory lesions as early as two weeks on the face and four weeks on the back, shoulders and chest compared to vehicle (p<0.05). AKLIEF Cream was well tolerated when used on the face, back, shoulders and chest. The most common adverse reactions (incidence >1%) included application site irritation, application site pruritus (itching) and sunburn. For more information, visit AKLIEF.com/HCP.


Future of Telehealth in Dermatology

Virtual visits allow clinicians to provide uninterrupted care to patients with acne and offer visibility into a patient’s lifestyle and skincare regimen. “With telehealth visits, I don’t have to interrupt patient care, and with newer treatments becoming available, I can continue to offer patients innovative options that may be better suited to their needs. For example, for patients with acne on the face and trunk, I now have the option to prescribe AKLIEF Cream, which has been proven effective to treat both areas, and I can help patients achieve clearer skin from the safety of their homes,” says Dr. Harper. Given the success that many dermatology practices have had with telehealth visits during the novel coronavirus public health crisis, many plan to continue to offer virtual visits for the foreseeable future.


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Important Safety Information


INDICATION: AKLIEF® (trifarotene) Cream, 0.005% is a retinoid indicated for the topical treatment of acne vulgaris in patients 9 years of age and older. ADVERSE EVENTS: The most common adverse reactions (incidence ≥ 1%) in patients treated with AKLIEF Cream were application site irritation, application site pruritus (itching), and sunburn. WARNINGS/PRECAUTIONS: Patients using AKLIEF Cream may experience erythema, scaling, dryness, and stinging/burning. Use a moisturizer from the initiation of treatment, and, if appropriate, depending upon the severity of these adverse reactions, reduce the frequency of application of AKLIEF Cream, suspend or discontinue use. Avoid application of AKLIEF Cream to cuts, abrasions or eczematous or sunburned skin. Use of “waxing” as a depilatory method should be avoided on skin treated with AKLIEF Cream. Minimize exposure to sunlight and sunlamps. Use sunscreen and protective clothing over treated areas when exposure cannot be avoided.


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


©2020 Galderma Laboratories, L.P. All Rights Reserved. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.



1. American Academy of Dermatology. Acne. https://www.aad.org/media/stats-numbers. Accessed June 2, 2020.

2. Del Rosso JQ, et al. A closer look at truncal acne vulgaris: prevalence, severity, and clinical significance. J Drugs Dermatol. 2007; 6:597-600.

3. Tan J, Thiboutot D, Popp G, Gooderham M, Lynde C, et al. Randomized Phase 3 evaluation of trifarotene 50 μg/g cream treatment of moderate facial and truncal acne. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2019.02.044.

4. British Association of Dermatologists. Topical trifarotene: a new retinoid. Br J Dermatol. 2018;179:231-232.

5. Data on File, Galderma.

6. FDA PPI, Galderma.

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