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Dermbusters: Cheri Frey, MD

Featuring Nicholas Brownstone, MD |

Temple University Hospital
Department of Dermatology
Philadelphia, PA

, Cheri Frey, MD |

Assistant Professor, Dermatology & Residency Program Director 
Director of Cosmentic Dermatology
Howard University
Washington, DC

| Published March 12, 2024

In this episode of Dermbusters, host Nicholas Brownstone, MD, chats with Cheri Frey, MD, about some common misperceptions they often hear from their patients.

Dr Frey shares some suggestions on how to counsel patients on 2 significant topics: retinol use for patients with sensitive skin and moisturizing for patients with acne.

Myth 1: Patients with sensitive skin can’t use retinol for acne.

Dr Frey addresses a common myth that dermatologists often hear from their patients: that they shouldn’t use retinol to treat acne if they have sensitive skin. She offers a few suggestions for dispelling this misperception when speaking with patients.

Tips for counseling your patients:

  • Advise eligible patients to try an over-the-counter retinol that’s not as strong or harsh as prescription-strength retinoids
  • Explain application strategies such as the sandwich method, which involves applying retinol between 2 layers of moisturizer, and short-contact application, where retinol sits on the skin for a few minutes before being washed off
  • Express the importance of retinol as a cornerstone of acne treatment and reassure patients there is always a way to incorporate it as a therapy

Myth 2: Patients with acne can’t moisturize their skin.

Dr Brownstone and Dr Frey next cover another common myth often heard from patients: that moisturizing can exacerbate acne.

Dr Frey stresses the importance of moisturization for patients with acne and serves up a few tips to use in patient conversations when addressing this topic.

Tips for counseling your patients:

  • Explain the barrier disruption that occurs in patients with acne and how it can cause more irritation and inflammation; advise patients that moisturizing can mitigate this disruption to the top layer of skin
  • Educate patients on the drying nature of retinols and other acne-fighting ingredients; emphasize the importance of keeping skin hydrated so patients can tolerate their acne medications

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